My Nutrition Plan

I wish I could say that eating healthy is easy, but it’s not.  With the thousands of items available for purchase, there are too many unhealthy temptations.  Most people make more than 200 food- and beverage-related decisions each day.  That’s 200 times that you need to say NO to sugar, high-carbohydrates, and high-fat food that don’t have nutritional value.  (Source: Eat Out Eat Well)

Many of your most common concerns can be answered through macro-nutrients!

Why aren’t you losing weight?  Not all calories are the same.  It’s okay to have a dessert once in a while, but wasting your daily caloric limit on sugar and carbs, then you aren’t going to get the protein, fiber, and vitamins that you need for strength, energy, and muscle recovery!

Why don’t you feel full?  You’re not getting enough protein and fiber!

Why can’t you stay awake?  You had a “sugar or carb rush” and you don’t have the fuel you need!

Here are the guidelines I’ve currently set for myself:

“Low” Day

“High” Day % Macronutrients

BMR (with no activity)

Calories

1,200 1,600 1,464

Fat

33 grams 44 grams

25%

41 grams
Carbs 90 grams 120 grams

30%

110 grams

Sugar

25 grams 35 grams 69-97 grams
Fiber 17 grams 25 grams

25 grams

Protein 135 grams 180 grams 45%

165 grams

My General Rules:

  • No trans fat.
  • No refined sugar (table sugar).
  • Eat enough to avoid “starvation” mode!  (Calculate your limit on LiveStrong.)
  • If hungry between meals and snacks, drink water!  Lots of water!
  • Don’t waste calories by drinking them (unless it’s a protein shake).  That means no soda, no juice, and pretty much no alcohol (maybe for my friend’s bachelorette party…).  If you’re craving a “healthy” fruit smoothie, use water!  (Check out my favorite recipes.)

This may or may not be right for you, so I strongly encourage you to do the research and figure out what’s best for your personal situation.  Here are some things to think about…

Bodybuilding.com provides a great macronutrient calculator.  Even if you’re not a bodybuilder, it will help you set your goals.  Also read about how it’s important to set your macronutrients according to your body type.

Here are a few macronutrient breakdowns (Carb/Protein/Fat):

High Carb:  60/25/15  (Typical for bodybuilding/gaining muscle)

Moderate:  50/30/20  (Typical for maintenance)

Zone Diet:  40/30/30

Low Carb:  25/45/30  (Typical for fat loss)

Here’s a nice calculator where you can set your percentage goals and caloric intake!

The USDA recommends the following macronutrient proportions by age.

These are basic guidelines and do not account for gender or personalized activity level.

Carbs Protein Fat
Age 1-3 45-65% 5-20% 30-40%
Ages 4-18 45-65% 10-30% 25-35%
Ages 19+ 45-65% 10-35% 20-35%

Fat:  Fat is necessary for optimal health and wellbeing.  There are “good fats” and “bad fats.”  Starting in 1955, American’s started a huge “low-fat trend,” which is recently being reversed as science has proven the importance of healthy fats!  (Avoid trans fat and too much saturated fat!)

Fat yields 9 calories per gram.  It helps you feel satisfied after a meal and it contributes to muscle gains and prevents muscle loss during a low-fat diet.

Fat is an energy source and helps with the construction of cells in our body and regulation of most bodily processes.  Check out this fat intake calculator from BodyBuilding.com, or visit the American Health Association website for their recommended fat intake calculator.

Carbs:  Carbs are critical to fuel your workout and throughout the curse of the day.  Carbs replenish glucose and glycogen stores to prevent fatigue.

The type of carb you eat is important.  There are simple and complex carbs.  Avoid simple carbs (processed foods, cookies, white rice/noodles, etc.) and get your carb intake from complex carbs!

Simple carbs are quickly digested and spike blood sugar leaving you fatigued and hungry.  Complex carbs include whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables.  You’ll be surprised that you can get most of your carb intake just through fruits and vegetables!  Many organizations recommend 45-65 percent of your total calories be from carbs.

Check out this carbohydrate intake calculator from BodyBuilding.com.

Sugar:  Starting in 1955, American focused on low-fat foods, but in order to make those taste good, manufacturers added more sugar!  Yikes!  It’s actually pretty interesting to read about.  Google it!

There are two types of sugars:

  1. Naturally found sugar.  Fructose (fruit) and Lactose (milk)
  2. Added sugar.  White sugar, brown sugar, honey, chemically manufactured (high fructose corn syrup), and other sweeteners.

According to the American Heart Association, the maximum amount of added sugars you should eat in a day are 37.5 grams (9 teaspoons) for men or 25 grams (6 teaspoons) for women.

Extra sugar in the bloodstream is unhealthy, so the body stores it as fat!

Read more about sugar on BodyBuilding.com and on the American Heart Association website.

Fiber:  Dietary fiber is an essential carbohydrate but aren’t considered a key source of energy.  Fiber keeps you full and “regular.”  Typically women should consume 25 grams per day and men 38 grams, according to the Institute of Medicine.  It is hard to get the recommended amount of fiber!  You need to incorporate fiber-rich foods at every meal.  Fruit, bran, and beans (I love lentils) are great ways to get fiber.  (Lentils actually have a lot of protein and fiber, especially for the low calorie amount.  Plus, they’re inexpensive!)

Protein:  My favorite macronutrient!  Protein is amazing!  It comes in so many forms too.  Of course, egg whites, salmon, and lean chicken are my favorite go-to protein sources due to their low calorie content; however, you can also get protein from lentil beans, oatmeal (with protein powder), cottage cheese, low-fat greek yogurt (watch out for the sugar content), and nuts.  If your calories are limited though, you’ll want the biggest bang for your buck!

Protein yields 4 calories per gram.  Many organizations recommend 0.5 – 1.5 grams per pound of body weight.  Educate yourself, as over 1.5 grams per pound of body weight may have negative effects.

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