We all know by this point that if we want to lose fat, we need to cut calories, plain and simple. This is indisputable and even though there are some factors that influence this, it is the number 1 factor that we need to address.
But what if our goal just isn’t to lose fat as fast as possible? What if we want to perform better, get more muscle or simply feel better? To accurately figure out how much we need to eat, we need to consider the following factors. If we can do this successfully, we really can lose fat, build muscle and gain performance at the same time. Interested? Read on!
1. Basal Metabolic Rate
This is defined as the minimal amount of calories you need to have normal physiological function. You can eat at this level if you want to lose bodyfat, but you will not feel good! You may eat at this point at some time towards the end of a extreme fat loss diet but is certainly not a good starting point.
2. Physical Stress
Physical stress is defined as the stress from training, moving around, NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) and our general daily activity. We need to ensure that, if performance is a goal, we are eating enough to fuel us through our training. Otherwise, we will not even get through training sessions, we will struggle to even finish our workouts, let alone see performance improvements.
3. Mental Stress
This is the stress of daily life. All stress affects our physiology the same way, it causes the mobilisation of fuel into the blood stream to be used. Unfortunately when the stress is mental in nature, we do not have the opportunity to use any of this fuel and it has to go back into storage. This does challenge our physiology and is one of many reasons why stress is a negative for optimal body composition.
This is how much we need to eat to recover from our training. The magic with training is not in the actual process of working out, it is the recovery process. To keep excelling int he gym and seeing better and better results, we need to eat enough ensure we recover from the stimulus of training.
This is the process of building muscle. You need to ensure you eat enough (protein in particular) to build muscle and grow.
So now we know all this what do we do? How do we achieve it all?
We simply design a diet based around a few key baselines. BW in kg x 35 is generally enough to cover all our bases. From here we get protein a 3xBW in KG.
This will ensure we have enough overall calories for adaptation and enough protein to have optimal nitrogen status for muscle growth. From here we can add in 100 grams of fat which will ensure fullness, support our basal metabolic functions and give us something later on to take away from our diet.
From this point, whatever calories we have left can be made up with carbs to support the process of recovery and fuel our training. Here is an example of how much food this works out to be for an 80kg man.
Protein in grams and calories – 240 grams and 960 calories.
Fats – 100 grams and 900 calories
Carbs – 235 grams and 940 calories.
Sounds like a lot doesn’t it? This is so you can set a baseline for performance, recovery and adaptation. From here, you can slowly reduce or increase calories in line with your goals. For people over 85kgs, we recommend 250 calories at a time and for below we recommend moving 150 calories at a time. This ensures progress is steady and not too fast.