Find your BMR. (http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/)
Calculate your daily caloric needs by using the Harris Benedict equation.
This means multiply this number by one of the numbers above.
Please understand that this number is not perfect and will most likely not be exactly your daily caloric needs. From here it will be up to you to adjust your calories to where they need to be, dependent upon your goals. If you do not wish to do this, here is a cheat sheet of general calculations courtesy of Dr. Mike Israetel from his book The Renaissance Diet.
If your goal is to maintain your weight then simply eat the number of calories that the equation (BMR x activity multiplier) yielded.
If your goal is to lose weight then simply subtract 500-1000 calories from the equation (BMR x activity multiplier). If you weigh more than 200 pounds then your are probably better served subtracting closer to 1000 calories, while if you are under 200 pounds then subtracting 500 calories will most likely be sufficient.
If your goal is to gain weight then simply add 500-1000 calories to the equation (BMR x activity multiplier). If you weigh more than 200 pounds then you are probably better served adding closer to 1000 calories, while if you are under 200 pounds then adding 500 calories will most likely be sufficient.
Make sure you monitor your progress. This means daily weight check-ins. The easiest way to do this is just weigh yourself as soon as you wake up in the morning and record it. If what the scale is displaying isn’t matching up with your goal then simply add or subtract 250 calories everyday until you reach the desired effect.
Q: What about macronutrient balance?
A: The research suggests that the bodybuilders had it right all along and that you should be consuming around .08-1.2g of protein per pound of bodyweight daily if the goal is muscle hypertrophy or maintenance of muscle tissue. To make it easy for you just consume 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight daily. So if you weight 175 pounds, then you should be consuming 175g of protein daily.
The intensity of your workout will dictate how many grams of carbohydrates and fat you ingest. Here is a chart that characterizes the intensity of your workout based on the information found in The Renaissance Diet by Dr. Mike Israetel.
Based on the information Dr. Mike Israetel provides in The Renaissance Diet, here are the multipliers you should apply to your carbohydrate intake based on the intensity of your workout:
- Non-training days: less than 0.5g per pound of bodyweight
- Light workouts: 1g per pound of bodyweight
- Moderate workouts: 1.5g per pound of bodyweight
- Hard workouts: 2g per pound of bodyweight
The rest of your allotted calories will go towards fats. So, for an individual that weighs 175 pounds wishing to maintain their weight, their diet might look something like this based on the cheat sheet provided by The Renaissance Diet:
- Non-training days: Protein – 175g Carbohydrates – 87.5g Fats – 111g
- Light workouts: Protein – 175g Carbohydrates – 175g Fats – 72g
- Moderate workouts: Protein – 175g Carbohydrates – 262.5g Fats – 115g
- Hard workouts: Protein – 175g Carbohydrates – 350g Fats – 122g
Q: I’m not gaining/losing weight and I followed everything perfectly!
A. Simply add or subtract calories. There are plenty individual differences that may affect how accurate some of the following information I’ve provided is, but none of those differences are of a great of magnitude to completely wreck the science behind weight gain or loss.
Q: I did really well with my goal initially but after x number of weeks my weight is stalling. What should I do?
A. Readjust your goals based on your new bodyweight. If you weight 175 pounds and are now 190 and want to continue to gain weight, just apply 190 to the formulas you used to calculate your caloric and macronutrient goals.
Q. What is a good rate of weight loss/gain?
A. The old axiom of 1 pound a week in either direction isn’t actually too far off and isn’t a terrible number to use, however I would say that .5 pounds per week on average will be much more sustainable, especially for lighter and leaner individuals (<200lbs). Personally, I was able to drop weight at about 1% of my bodyweight per week with absolutely no issues. I went from 254 to 229 in about 13 weeks which is an average weight loss of right under 2.5lbs per week. As a general rule of thumb, I wouldn’t recommend gaining or losing over 1% of bodyweight weekly for individuals under ~12% body fat.
Q. This seems like a lot to manage, is there an easier way to do this?
A. Just keep track of calories and protein. Fill in your leftover calories after protein is accounted for with whatever you want. Not optimal, but definitely better than not tracking at all.
Q. If all I’m worried about is calories and macronutrients can I fill in those numbers with whatever foods I want?
A. Don’t eat like a moron. Eating with discipline of a bodybuilder isn’t for everybody, so just do what you can. If you want to use your macronutrients on doughnuts or pizza that is absolutely fine, it just doesn’t need to be an everyday habit…even though it technically can be.
*Much of this information can be found in The Renaissance Diet and various other Renaissance Periodization resources.
**For more information on nutrition check out Mike Israetel, Jared Feather, Eric Helms, Alan Aragon, Lyle McDonald, and Layne Norton.