There are a thousand ways to skin a cat, but some are better than others.
The same is true for dieting. You can lose weight on the cabbage soup diet, the Atkins diet, south beach, Weight watchers, or simply by becoming a heroin addict. Some aren’t so bad … Others will likely kill you.
But, what is the BEST way to diet? well …that is complicated. And without a personal assessment, not too easy to pin down.
But, in general (and VERY basic), what has worked with most of the clients I’ve ever had, who were trying to lose fat, is to use a 4:3:3 ratio for your break down of calories. That is, if each “part” is 10% of your total Daily Calorie intake, then you’d eat 4 parts from Protein (40%), 3 parts from Fat (30%), and 3 from Carbs (30%). And if the ratio is to shift at all, it should be in favor of Protein and a little more fat.
Here are the Key points:
Most people don’t understand what I mean when I say High Protein. They say, “I have milk in my cereal.” Sorry, that ain’t gonna cut it.
When I say High Protein, I mean at LEAST 1 gram per pound of lean body mass. But I’d prefer you to be near 2 grams. That’s a LOT. But the higher your protein levels, the lower your tendency to eat junk.
So if you’re the 150 lb woman with 20% body fat, then you should be eating at least 115 grams, but closer to 200 is even better .. but that is tough. That’s upwards of 800 cal. Just from Protein!
That means you really need to have about 25-40 grams per meal, for 5-6 meals a day. As a point of reference, a whole can of tuna is 32 grams of protein.
Not Atkins low! You need about 1 gram/lb of lean body mass just to keep your body and brain running at full speed. So if you are a woman who is 150 lbs @ 25% body fat (~115 lean pounds). Then you need about 115 grams a day, which equals 460 cal.
You’re now at 1260 cal. Then it’s time for the fun part. Fat.
each gram of fat is worth 9 or 10 calories. As opposed to Protein and Carbohydrates with provide only 4 calories for each gram. This is one of the big reasons to be more careful about your fat intake.
That said, I am often more worried about a clients Carb intake, than their fat.
If our hypothetic 150 lb woman has 400 calories from Carbs, then to have the right ratio, she needs 400 calories from fat=40 grams.
I suggest that at least 6 grams of that comes from Fish Oil, 2 from Flax oil, and the rest be healthy fats like Olive Oils, etc.
There you go. That’s a 1600 calorie a day diet. A good start for most women. For a man, I’d up it just a little to 2000.
If your activity level goes up significantly (And if you work with me, it will!) then you up your calorie count for the day. But keep the ratios the same.
If your interested primarily in gaining muscle. Then up the calories, but keep the ratio the same. There are exceptions to this, but not many.
(As a note–the more you exercise, the less worry you have to put into your diet. It’s a zero sum game. Trust me, working out hard is far easier than an uber-strict low cal diet with no cheats)