EZ Dieting

50% Protein 20% carb 30% dietary fats

Steve Colescott, Metabolic Specialist
Contest Workshop

BMJ Volume 9

Eating plan for lean muscle

Thinking back, it dawns on me how many of us slop haphazardly through our nutrition programs. Is your eating plan something you jotted down on the back of a McDonald’s bag? Worse yet, does your eating plan contain items from a McDonald’s bag? Chances are, that’s not the case or you wouldn’t be reading this magazine. For a lot of you though, I suspect you are following a loosely organized, jotteddown wish list of a nutrition strategy.

Grams of protein, carb and fat we consume

We’s going to divide your grams of protein, carbs and fat into individual serving sizes. 4-7 meals depending on your schedule and goals. To encourage both muscle gain and fat loss.

If you are a regular reader of the No Nonsense Magazine and Body Muscle you probably have a much better than average diet. Even by loosely modeling your eating after the successful athletes featured in these publications, will put you in the top echelon of nutritional proficiency. But do you know how to structure your diet to meet your personal needs? This article will spell out the basics to putting it all together into a comprehensive package.

› Contest Workshop,
this article is part of the Workshop Manual

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The easiest way to do it, by far the easiest way to get a personalized eating program designed specifically for your goals and to fit into your lifestyle.

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They do it free and no purchase is necessary. (Between you and me, I think they are crazy to do this. They could be charging big bucks for a service this valuable). Even if you intend to call them for a free personalized diet, don’t stop reading. The following info is still important to know. I suggest that you get a pencil, calculator and some paper (put that crumpled McDonald’s bag to good use) and follow along. Even if you have someone else create an eating program for you, this will give you a clear understanding of the hows and whys behind a proper lean muscle promoting diet.

I suggest that you get a pencil, calculator and some paper (put that crumpled McDonald’s bag to good use) and follow along. Even if you have someone else create an eating program for you, this will give you a clear understanding of the hows and whys behind a proper lean muscle promoting diet.

Calories over-emphasized by nutritionists

It all starts with...
Calories have been over-emphasized by nutritionists from day one. Traditionally, they would dogmatically clutch their guidelines and genuflect before their Recommended Daily Allowances. From them, the answers were simple, calories are calories; anything above your basic energy needs will cause you to gain weight, anything below it will cause you to lose.

Experience working with athletes, who eat quite differently and ask more of their bodies than average people, proves that not all calories are created equal. As our knowledge of the human metabolism has progressed, in particular, how various proportions of macronutrients (protein, carbs and fat) affect glucose disposal, our thinking has evolved. In general, your calorie level is the addition of three measurements: basal metabolic rate (the minimal amount of energy needed to carry on vital bodily functions), activity level (calories used to perform day to day activities) and the thermic effect of food (TEF).

Some factors which affect basal energy levels include, body composition, body condition, gender, hormone secretions, thyroid function, sleep, age, pregnancy, body temperature and environmental temperature. As you can see many of these factors are profoundly affected by weight training. Activity level of course varies depending on what we do for a living (most masonry workers burn more calories than office workers), what we do in the gym and what we do for recreation. Thermic effect of food is strongly affected by a bodybuilding diet (as we will discuss later).

Regardless, calorie level is still, out of necessity, the starting point for any diet. In this case, we will choose calorie levels with an assumption that the calories will be derived from the healthy muscle-promoting and bodyfat-discouraging guidelines that will be discussed later. You can see now why the cookie-cutter RDAs designed for the average sedentary couch potato fall short when applied to fitness competitors, bodybuilders or other serious athletes.

Determining Your Calorie Level

The problems with taking a three to five-day averaged caloric count to determine your caloric level is; 1) it’s a pain recording everything and doing all that math, 2) you may find yourself eating differently since you are more conscious of your intake, 3) sometimes weight gain or loss comes in spurts, so a five-day calorie level may not show a bodyweight change even though it may be slightly above or below your normal level, and 4) activity levels may be unusually high or low in that time period.

Your caloric range will vary from ten to twenty-five calories per pound of bodyweight a day. Obviously, that is a huge range. To narrow down your starting point we must look at:

Your physical condition greatly affects daily energy requirements. Lean muscle tissue requires energy (calories) to maintain itself, while bodyfat is merely stored energy. A 280-pound genetically-gifted male bodybuilder with single-digit bodyfat levels would require far more energy to support his musculature than a 280-pound fat couch potato, since the obese person’s bodyfat is actually stored energy. Like a camel, this guy can live off that energy-rich blubber for weeks, if need be.

Goals also have an obvious effect on where we will start your calorie levels. Those who wish to gain weight (almost exclusively teenage and college-aged men) have a tendency to have stubbornly fast metabolisms, so require higher calorie intake. Those looking to lose bodyfat (while maintaining their current muscle tissue) will need lower calorie levels since they will be trying to burn off stored bodyfat as fuel. These obviously diametrically opposed conditions require different nutritional strategies.

Gender also has a strong influence on our daily caloric needs. The simple added stress of having to deal with women is extremely taxing to men, requiring more calories per pound of bodyweight. (Okay, I was just seeing if you were still paying attention there.) In fact, in addition to having a tendency for more muscle tissue, the general hormonal landscape of men seems to kick everything up a notch as far as caloric needs goes.

It should come as little surprise that activity level has a huge impact on your calorie needs. Anyone that remembers the first week of intense high school sports (like summer football camp) can clearly recall the ravenous appetite that accompanies even a few hours of real exertion. Now contrast the ninehour workday of a person laying bricks or shoveling tar to patch potholes with that of someone sitting at a desk crunching numbers and the differences can be quite dramatic.

To calculate calories we will multiply your bodyweight by how many calories per pound of bodyweight you need. This should be determined by your goal.

Now where within that range should you start? Not so surprisingly, in the middle. But, human metabolism can be remarkably diverse, as are individual living conditions. If you work an extremely strenuous job and have a fast metabolism that almost never puts on bodyfat, you may want to select a variable on the higher side of the range. If you are overweight with a slow metabolism and the most difficult part of your workday is tapping the speed-dial on your phone, you may want to go on the lower end of the scale.

Say you are a 170-pound man in average condition, wanting to increase your lean muscle weight while reducing your bodyfat. You would choose the middle of the muscle-gaining range (or a variable of 16). Multiplying 170 by 16 gives you an average daily calorie intake of 2,720 calories.

Keep in mind these are just starting points. After two weeks, assess your bodyweight and body composition changes (or lack thereof) and make a two-point adjustment up or down in intake as you feel is required (unless, of, course you nailed it the first time). In the above instance, if the person notices that they are gaining some bodyfat, they can lower the variable to 14 for a calorie intake of 2,380 – or, if they feel they aren’t getting enough to maintain their muscle tissue, they can bump it up two to 18 for a caloric level of 3,060. Two weeks later at the new intake level, reaccess and adjust again as needed.

Once you have targeted your caloric level you are NOT done though. The number is going to change over time. As a hard-working, goal-oriented athlete you will be carrying more lean muscle tissue a year from now, which will require about fifty calories more for you to just maintain each added pound. This is why those carrying lots of lean tissue can often get away with sloppy eating without immediate repercussions and why you will, over time, find that it becomes easier to stay lean.

Macronutrient Magic

Calories obviously are derived from your intake of protein, carbs and dietary fats (the three macronutrients). Much has been written about various theories of properly proportioning these three. While some earlier (and still annoyingly prevalent) theories existed which espoused a very low-fat, high carb, low-calorie approach to dieting, this approach is a difficult one, with limited effectiveness for most whom have tried it.

This is perhaps the most heated debate among the various diet philosophies, with each fatloss guru arguing the merits of his method (and encouraging you to buy his signature line of frozen dinners and breakfast bars). While a low-carb Atkins (or South Beach) Diet approach is a very effective method for weight loss, it does not meet the needs of those engaging in intense bodybuilding exercise. A heavy leg or back workout seriously will deplete muscle glycogen levels and, without some carbohydrate intake, those reserves will not be adequately replenished, limiting your strength and muscle gains. The trick is to provide enough carbs, at the right times, to assist with proper recuperation without extra calories spilling-over and being stored as bodyfat.

Through a great deal of tweaking and adjusting over time, a 50% Protein, 20% carb, 30% dietary fats eating program has been shown to be an excellent basic eating plan for the promotion of lean muscle without adding bodyfat for most lifters. First off, the high protein level ensures that the body is provided with adequate amounts of amino acids for the repair, recuperation and rebuilding of muscle tissue. Training hard without adequate protein intake is like trying to play the accordion with one hand.

Secondly, the lower quantity of carbs keeps you from having huge insulin fluctuations. As you might suspect, we won’t be recommending that you guzzle maple syrup or eat raw honeycomb for your carb calories, so you will be eating items from quality sources that break down slowly. These often tend to include fibrous carbs, such as found in steamed vegetables and salads.

Thirdly, this diet allows you to include plenty of healthy fats into your diet. When you avoid saturated and trans fats in favor of the essential fatty acids (EFAs – such as you’d find in fish oils, olive, flaxseed and borage oils), you cause a dramatic shift towards muscle-building, bodyfat loss and improved health. As a nice side effect the combination of a fairly high level of fat and the aforementioned fiber, makes adoptees of the 50-20-30 eating plan, notice a level of satiety, even when in the fat-burning lower calorie aspects of the plan.

50% 20% 30% style diet

My personal favorite aspect of the 50-20-30 style diet is its effect on TEF. If you recall from the brief reference to it earlier, TEF stands for thermic effect of food. Thermic effect of food can be defined as the stimulation of the metabolism from the digestion of food. Ever eaten a high protein meal and feel a noticeable increase in your body temperature one to three hours afterwards? This is TEF cranking up the furnace. So why does their style of eating have a strong effect on TEF? It has been shown that high protein diets have a stronger thermic effect than their chock full o’ carbs counterparts. It’s kind of like those credit cards which offer cash-back incentives for their use. You get free calories for growth without having to worry about putting them on as fat. [Also, see 50% Protein / 20% Carbs / 30% Nutrition Planning Mix-and-Match Diet by Steve Colescott

While we are on the subject, here’s a term you can use to impress the guys around the squat rack. Luxus consumption is a theory that when one’s intake of calories exceeds what is needed, there is an automatic increase in the person’s metabolism in an attempt to keep them from getting fat. Isn’t it nice to know that not every metabolic process seems to be working to turn us into pudgy couch potatoes?

Working the Numbers
You’ve figured out your daily calorie level and read the rationale behind the 50-20-30 split; so now what? Once again some simple math needs to enter the equation. We will stick with the example of the 170- pound man. As you may recall he chose 16 as his starting calorie level for building lean muscle. Multiplying 170 by 16 gives him an average daily calorie intake of 2,720 calories.

From this, we see that of that daily consumption of 2,720 calories, 1360 will come from protein, 544 will come from carbs, and 816 will come from dietary fats. We’re not done, of course, since we want to find out how many grams of protein, carb and fat we need to consume each day. Since protein and carbs provide 4 calories per gram, we will be dividing each of those sums by four. As fat contains 9 calories per gram, we will be dividing our calories from fat by 9 (as shown below).

The Final Breakdown

Starting to feel like one of those physicists in a sci-fi movie with a chalkboard full of complex scribblings, detailed variables and confusing symbols? Worry not, for we are almost done. The last step is to divide your grams of protein, carbs and fat into individual serving sizes. This will vary from 4-7 meals depending on your schedule and goals. In order to encourage both muscle gain and fat loss, we need to eat frequently. This means no less than four times a day, preferably five or six. This isn’t that difficult with a little preparation and protein shakes are a life-saver here.

For our 170-pounder, this might break down to a daily consumption that looks something like this:

This is simply a guideline and should be adjusted as necessary. If an emergency pops up and you miss Meal Four, either double up on your protein on one of your later meals or just split it up over your last two remaining meals of the day. The important part is that you get in adequate nutrients. Don’t let this scientific minutiae overwhelm you.

Now you have both the basic guidelines of setting up a proper diet and a thorough understanding of the principles behind them. Hopefully, you plugged in your numbers as we went along so that you can apply these principles to help you reach your goals. By looking at some of the sample diets by the successful members of Beverly’s extended family, you should get plenty of ideas about what specific foods can be plugged in to meet these nutrient needs, as well as which supplements can help you push things to an even higher level. You have the tools. Make it happen!

*This article was originally published in Body Muscle Volume 9 was included into Contest Workshop for ease of use.


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