Follow these simple guidelines and you can achieve any result you want, whether it’s gaining muscle or strength, losing fat, maintaining (adding a small amount of muscle while leaning), or simply to feel better and perform better.
These will be disappointing for those looking for unknown or underground diet secrets, but they work better than any fake secret some YouTube authority is trying to sell you.
1 Eat mostly unprocessed foods.
Meat, seafood, eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts, unprocessed grains, etc. If these constitute at least 80% of your caloric intake, it is extremely difficult to go wrong.
2 Ingest 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.
This is at the upper limit of what is needed. You could eat a little less and be fine. But since protein isn’t efficiently stored as fat, it’s better to eat a little too much than too little. Just use your common sense. If you weigh 350 pounds and are obese, you don’t need 350 grams of protein, but you probably need more protein than you currently consume.
This amount of protein is enough to help you build muscle, function optimally, minimize muscle loss while dieting, and keep you feeling fuller if your primary goal is fat loss.
3 Adjust your calorie intake to your goal and your expenses.
The first step? Find out how many calories you need to maintain your current weight. There are formulas for this, but most are not quite adequate. And anyway, your calorie expenditure varies from day to day. Also, someone who has chronically dieted will have a very different “actual energy requirement”.
I suggest logging everything you eat for 5-10 days. The longer you do it, the more accurate it is. Weigh yourself the morning of the first day and the day after your last day.
Calculate your average daily calorie intake. Next, watch your body weight change.
If you have gained weight, this average caloric intake is a surplus. If you’ve lost weight, that’s a deficit. If your weight has remained stable, it’s probably close to your maintenance level.
Once you’ve figured out what your maintenance level is, it’s very easy to plan your daily calorie intake:
- To build maximum muscle while accepting a little fat gain: More than 25-30% excess
- To build muscle with a little fat gain: 20-25% caloric surplus
- To build muscle with minimal fat gain: 10-15% caloric surplus
- To build a small amount of muscle while maintaining leanness: 2.5 to 7.5% extra
- To slim down while hopefully adding some muscle: 5% deficit to maintenance intake
- To lose fat without losing muscle: 10-15% calorie deficit
- To lose a lot of fat while minimizing muscle loss: 15-20% calorie deficit
- For maximum fat loss (higher risk of muscle loss): 20-30% calorie deficit