Your training and diet should reflect your goals and your workout and nutrition plan should work together to reach those goals. This sounds like common sense but not everyone follows it. For example if you’re bulking, this doesn’t mean to eat everything in front of you just to add up the calories. You will only end up gaining fat and losing muscle definition. Or if you’re cutting, you may think starving yourself will get you to your goal faster. This may be true but you will also lose more muscle than you want and be miserable the entire time.
With some simple planning you can avoid these mistakes, getting your diet and fitness plan on the same page isn’t complicated.
WHAT IS YOUR GOAL
The first step is to decide what you’re trying to accomplish.
There are many different reasons that will make someone want to change their fitness habits.
- If you’re overweight and want to slim down.
- You may be on the skinny side and want to build muscle.
- Or you’re somewhere in the middle and don’t know if you want to lose fat or build muscle first.
The most important part of creating a fitness plan is to first identify what goal you are trying to reach. Are you trying to bulk (build muscle) or cut (lose fat)?
The answer to this will determine your daily caloric intake which is the most fundamental factor in creating a nutrition plan no matter your goal.
SHOULD I BE BULKING OR CUTTING FIRST
For most people this will be pretty simple to figure out.
If you consider yourself overweight and you want to slim down you should cut first.
If you consider yourself skinny and want to gain lean muscle you should bulk first.
The only time this decision isn’t so easy is when you are somewhere in the middle.
If you’re a man with more than 15% body fat or a woman with more than 25% body fat you should cut first.
If you’re a man with 10% body fat or less or a woman with 20% body fat or less you should bulk first.
Some people prefer having excess weight on the, if you are one of those people than obviously you can choose to bulk no matter what your body fat percentage. Just keep in mind the higher your body fat percentage, the easier your body will retain fat.
How Long Should You Be On A Bulking Or Cutting Diet
This will be different for everyone, genetics and metabolism play a role in how fast or slow you gain or lose weight. Also the amount of effort you are putting into your workout sessions.
If you are bulking first you should continue until you attain the amount of lean muscle you desire, or you become uncomfortable with the amount of fat you have accumulated.
When bulking you are eating a calorie surplus which will always add some fat to your body. How fast this happens depends on your metabolism and the cleanliness of your diet.
I will cover calorie surplus and calorie deficit in the next chapter.
A bulking phase could last 4 months, 6 months, 8 months or over a year. The duration will depend on how fast your body adds on fat. I am able to bulk for about six months before I feel the need to trim back down. Fortunate people can bulk for years before having to cut.
If you decide to cut first, you shouldn’t stop until you reach the desired body fat percentage you were trying to achieve.
HOW TO TRACK YOUR DAILY CALORIE INTAKE
What is a calorie?
Simply put a calorie is the energy received from the food and liquids you ingest.
If you eat excess calories, your body will store the extra energy as glycogen or fat to be used at a later time. Glycogen gets stored in your liver, muscles and fat cells. Continually eating excess calories causes your fat stores to grow, creating weight gain.
The next step is to figure out your caloric maintenance level. This is how many calories needed on a daily to maintain your current weight. There is a simple formula to calculate this for your specific goal.
THE HARRIS- BENEDICT FORMULA
This will tell you your BASAL METABOLIC RATE (BMR).
BMR is the amount of calories your body needs to perform all of its natural functions while at rest. For example, breathing, temperature control, digesting food and circulating blood flow. Even laughing burns calories.
Calculating your B.M.R.
MEN: 66 + (13.7X bodyweight in kg) + (5x height in cm) – (6.8x age in years)
WOMEN: 655 + (9.6x bodyweight in kg) + (1.8 x height in cm) – (4.7 x age in years)
Now you want to take this number and multiply it by your activity number.
SEDENTARY = X 1.2 (very little or no exercise)
LIGHTLY ACTIVE = X 1.375 (light exercise a couple of days a week)
MODERATELY ACTIVE = X 1.55 (moderate exercise 3-5 days a week)
VERY ACTIVE = X 1.725 (intense exercise 6-7 days a week)
EXTREMELY ACTIVE = X 1.9 (hard daily exercise and very physical job)
This number is the amount of calories you need on a daily basis to maintain to your current weight.
If you’re bulking, you’re going to want a CALORIE SURPLUS which means you will add 350 calories to your total.
If you’re cutting, you’re going to want a CALORIE DEFICIT which means you will subtract 500 calories from your total.
This formula is very accurate in helping you determine how many calories are needed daily. However you still need to remember that different genes and metabolisms can cause varied results. If you keep proper track of your progress you will know if you have to tweak your diet.
- Figure out if your body type requires you to bulk or cut
- Calculate your calorie needs to determine your nutrition plan
- Form a diet plan to meet your goals.
If you need help understanding what you should eat, this article will help.
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