But even though it can adapt, its main goal is to keep you alive, and you can treat it pretty badly for a pretty long time before it breaks down. And during this time, most likely you’re not living your life feeling refreshed, energetic and awesome, but rather tired, in pain and hoping for the magic pill to show up. THERE IS NO MAGIC PILL. Sorry.
The reason some people succeed and some don’t, usually comes down to picking ONE advice, and then following that for a LONG period of time. So if you’re one of those people that changes up your diet and training every few weeks, and you’re not happy with the results you’ve gotten, then please consider this: Stick to a plan for few months, and not just few weeks or days.
We’re all different, and we might respond differently to different diets. But at cellular level, we’re not all to different. How the body uses protein, fat and carbohydrates as energy and building blocks, and how different enzymes and hormones work in the body, yeah – pretty similar.
Below you can find some good advice which is based on what research is showing. This is not a list of random things based on my feelings and MY point of view, but what science has figured out through trial and error. SCIENCE. So put your feelings aside for a moment, and read the following with an open mind.
1. Eat enough for your goal
If you want to lose weight, you need to eat less than what you use. Pretty basic I know, and you’ve probably heard it before. At the same time as you want to be in a deficit, you still want to feel full. To achieve this, eat low-calorie-density foods such as vegetables. Not only are vegetables nutritious, they also provide lots of volume with few calories, as well as fiber. This means you can eat a lot of food, but not a lot of calories.
If you want to gain weight however, you need to eat just enough to build muscles, but not so much that you put on fat. Also make sure that you have low enough fat percentage before bulking,not higher than around 15% for men and 25% for women. The more fat you have on your body, the more fat you put on and less muscles.
When calculating your calories, make sure to take into account how active you are outside the gym (work, school – also known as Life) and the energy it takes to digest food (also known as the thermal effect of food – TEF). TEF is between 10 and 25% based on your health, and eating mixed meals also yields the highest TEF.
2. Eat as many meal as you want
How you break up your total calories over the day doesn’t matter. So it basically doesn’t matter if you eat breakfast or not, or if you eat after 8 pm or not. The body can handle fasting up to 18 hours pretty well without any negative effects on the body, meaning you can have a late breakfast or a early dinner if that’s your thing.
The most important part is that you eat as many meals as it makes sense for you and your lifestyle. There’s no magic to many smaller meals over fewer larger meals. However, for the purpose of losing fat and/or building muscles, picking a number of meals between 3-5 seems to be the best.
3. Eat the same meals everyday
Consistency is key.
When you have figured out how many meals you’re eating daily, you need to be consistent with those, and do your best to eat the same amount of meals every day. Then try to eat those meals at roughly the same time every day (+/- 1 hour).
Like I said earlier, your body is amazing, and over time it will adapt, and learn your schedule. The benefits of this are pretty astounding and important. Better nutrient partitioning (more muscles, less fat), better response to insulin, healthier level of cholesterol, lower blood pressure and lower levels of cortisol, your stress hormone.
Basically, you can build more muscles, burn more fat and have a better health just being consistent and creating a routine.
4. Eat enough protein
The body doesn’t store protein to use later, so it’s important that you provide enough of it throughout the day. The last thing you want is for it to use your body’s muscle or organ protein as energy. For this you need to make sure you get enough protein each day. If you are mostly strength training, 1.8g protein per kg bodyweight per day should do it.
And instead of eating lots of smaller doses of protein, eating enough per meal is also important. This makes sure that you stimulate as much muscle building as possible through muscle protein synthesis. The minimum is around 0.3g protein per kg bodyweight.
Now add strength training to the mix and you got the recipe for a bigger bicep.
5. The Macros
When you know your protein intake, you can look at the other macronutrients. Luckily, how you split them up doesn’t really matter. At least if you’re just a regular joe, and not training for a high intensity race. Understand that, if you overeat on calories, your body has no idea about which if the macros is the surplus. It doesn’t know that you have a 30/40/30 macro split, and that the muffin you just ate got you over on carbs. Seriously.
How many grams of carbohydrates you need depends on your activities and training. For someone who lives a pretty normal life and only does strength training, the need for carbs is very minimal. If you think you need carbs to perform at the gym, you probably don’t. And you probably don’t even need them to replenish your glycogen stores. Like I said, your body is pretty adaptable and amazing.
Fat however is important in creating new muscles and hormones, so keeping fat at minimum 40% is a good advice. This can be a mix of all the different fatty acids, including saturated fats.
Your body is amazing. At the same time, your body has no idea what you’re thinking, and doesn’t understand the reason why you eat what you eat. It only responds to what it gets and how you treat it.
Many things work. What research tries to do is to find what works the best, for most of the population. It tries to find the most optimal diet, and maybe we’re far from knowing it right now, but what we do know is a lot. So if you follow the advice given here, there is no need for you not to get the results you want!