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In order to get the most out of your weightlifting sessions, it is important to ensure you’re getting the right nutrients and the right amount of calories.
One of the most common questions people have is how many calories should you be consuming to get the most from your workouts?
If you’ve ever done any research on the topic, you’ll find there is a lot of conflicting advice out there. Most of this advice is fairly generic.
The trouble with generic advice is that not everybody is the same. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. Here you’ll discover the 3 most important principles of nutrition and how to create a diet that fits you.
Before that, it helps to know the basis of what your diet should look like. Ideally you should be focusing on the following:
- 40% on calories consumed vs calories burnt
- 40% on the breakdown of macronutrients
- 10% on the timing of nutrients
- 5% on the quality of your food
- 5% on supplements
It may surprise you to learn that supplements and food quality should have such low focus. The majority of weightlifting dietary advice tells you that supplements and food quality should be the main things you concentrate on.
Below you’ll find out the most important principles of good nutrition.
1. Calories consumed vs calories burnt
Everybody consumes and burns a different amount of calories. To find out your own personal number, you can follow a pretty straight forward formula.
Firstly you need to write down how many hours you typically train in a week. Then add 10 to the number you’re presented with. Next multiply that by the weight you’re hoping to achieve. Confused? Here’s an example…
A busy person who weighs 200 pounds, wants to lose 10 pounds before the beach season kicks in.
If they manage to count calories properly, they could reach their goal if they trained just 4 hours a week. The formula for this would be 200 x (10 + 4).
2. Nutritional breakdown
Protein is by far the most important nutrient you are told to focus on when lifting. It has been recommended for many years that you consume 1 gram of protein for each pound of body weight. What you need to remember is that 1 gram of either protein or carbohydrates has four times the amount of calories.
If you take an example of a 200 pound fairly sedentary lifter, following a strict protein diet would add 800 calories (200 grams protein).
Then you need to add carbohydrates which are another important nutrient to focus on. If the lifter is trying to get rid of body fat, ideally he’d have 1.5 grams of carbs for every pound of body weight.
So 200 x 1.5 would equal 300 grams of carbs. This would add up to a massive 1,200 calories. This leaves only 660 calories a week left for other nutrients.
Now, if you’re looking to bulk up, ideally you want to include around 100 grams of carbohydrates a week. However, you shouldn’t go over 3 grams for every pound of body weight. If you find it doesn’t work, you will need to start increasing the amount of fat you consume.
3. Nutritional timing
Timing is also important and ideally you want to spread your protein intake out evenly throughout the day. Think little and often.
Aim to have a minimum of four and a maximum of seven protein meals a day.
The timing of carbohydrate intake is also extremely important. It helps to give you energy so you can work out and also causes your insulin levels to increase.
Obviously you want to make sure you have plenty of energy to get you through your workout. However, you don’t want to cause your insulin levels to raise too much throughout the day as it could lead to fat gain.
If you tend to train mainly at night, skip the carbs for your first two meals. Then after the workout focus on high glycaemic carbs.
Don’t forget about fats too. However, they tend to slow your digestion down so it is best to consume fat quite a long time before your workout.
Overall, you will likely notice your diet stops working after a while. This happens to everyone. That is why it is important to get weighed twice each week so you can tweak your diet when necessary.