Creating A Diet

One of the biggest questions that those who are looking to obtain any goal, be it fat loss or muscle gain, are asking is how they should go about developing a diet for themselves.

Should they use a low-carb approach? Or maybe low-fat is better if they are hoping to minimize body fat while putting on pounds of muscle. Surround yourself amongst the literally hundreds of different diets out there, and it's no wonder there is some confusion.

When it comes to setting up any diet, there are three basic, crucial elements that have to be satisfied, and then the rest is up to your own individual preferences, how you feel with certain foods, and so on.

Let's have a look at these three elements so you can make sure they are in line with your current diet.

1. Total Protein Intake

Protein is potentially the most debated about nutrient in the industry. How much protein do you really need? Is more better? What does the body do with excess? You have your different opinions, but the generally agreed upon amount is 1 gram per pound of body weight (assuming an active individual).

So right now, take your weight (in pounds) and multiple by one. That's how much protein you need each day.

Now, I'm going to throw out an exception to the rule. If you happen to be dieting on a fairly strict, low-calorie approach, I'd recommend bringing this up to somewhere between 1.2-1.5 grams per pound of body weight. This will help to ensure you don't lose any muscle mass tissue while being in a hypocaloric environment. No one wants to lose the muscle mass they worked so hard to put on, right?

I didn't think so.

2. Total calorie intake.

Next is setting your total calorie intake. This is going to make or break any fat loss or muscle building diet because you can't burn fat while supplying your body with more energy than it needs, and you can't build muscle without more energy than it needs to just sustain what's there.

How do you know how many calories to eat? Honestly, this is tricky. Every day your activity will vary slightly, as well as your environment, your stress levels, how much sleep you got the night before, and so on. All of these things will impact how many calories you need.

BUT, a general guideline that's super simple to use and relatively quite accurate for most people is:

Dieting: Body weight (in pounds) X 10-12 calories
Maintenance: Body weight X 13-15 calories
Muscle Gain: Body weight X 15-18 calories

If you are sedentary, you'll use the lower end of the scale, and if you're more active (be it with your job or scheduled activities, use the higher end).

Also note that some unlucky individuals will need to go down to 9 calories/pound to get fat loss moving, just as some individuals will have to go up to 20 calories a pound to gain weight (who, if you ask them, may also be unlucky - eating that much food is not as fun as you might think!)

Once you've set your designated calorie intake, give it a couple weeks and see how you do. If you aren't moving in the general direction you want, make some small adjustments and try that new intake for a few weeks.

3. Essential fats

Finally, the third component is essential fats. Everyone needs these. EVERYONE. I don't care if you're dieting, bulking, or just sitting on the couch eating Cheetos and drinking Pepsi, essential fats are, well, essential.

Shoot for between three and six grams a day and you're good to go.

So, once these factors are in order, then you simply fill out the rest of your calories with some combination of fat and carbohydrates (some people may up protein more, but realize it is not necessary).

Again, once the diet is formulated and has been put into practice, give it a few weeks. Real life results are going to be far better than anything you cook up on paper, so see how it goes.

From that, you'll gain valuable experience and information and can then make adjustments to further improve the diet, without changing these three components.