Bodybuilding and Weight Training/Constructing a Diet

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There are many aspects to weight lifting, beside the obvious work in the gym. Perhaps the most important of all is maintaining a proper diet. Building a diet will revolve around your macronutrients: protein, fat and carbohydrates (or carbs, for short).

Macronutrients[edit]

Proteins are what your body uses as "building blocks", although to be fair, they have a lot of different functions in an organism. They are made up of amino acids and can be found in fish, meat, dairy products, eggs, legumes.

All in all, we can find 20 different amino acids and of these only three are brached-chain amino acids (BCAA): isoleucine, leucine and valine. These are the ones needed to build muscle, and they are "essential amino acids". This means that your body can't produce them, unlike other amino acids. But mind that calling them "essential" only means your body can't produce them, not that they are more important.

Fats are perhaps the subject of the biggest misconception. Many people think that all fats are bad, and that a healthy life style should comprise no fats at all, especially if you're doing sports and, even less if it's bodybuilding. Still, many people thick that they will make you gain body fat... So, let us discuss fats for a while.

First, "what are fats" and "what are they good for"... we usually call fats to all lipids, be it oils or fats. But don't worry, we allways will and no harm will come upon us for that. They are molecules made up of "fatty acids" and are important for various functions in our organism, sych as lubrication (yep, like your car's engine), formation of hormones, cell structure, carrying vitamins and storing energy.

Secondly, "what types of fat are there"... now we're getting somewhere. There are "good fats", there are "bad fats" and there are "the fats you don't want near your children".

  • Unsaturated fats can be either monounsaturated ou polyunsaturated.
    • Monounsaturated fats can be found in olive oil, canola oil, nuts and avocados and they have been associated with keeping LDL (bad) cholesterol low and HDL (good) cholesterol high, so have at it;
    • Polyunsaturated fats can be found in nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, fish (especially cold water, from the ocean). These include the famous essential fats (thwy are essential because you need them and they have to be ingested, your organism cant produce them): omega-3 and omega-6. Omega-3 regulates heart rythm, normalises cholesterol levels decreases inflammation.
  • Saturated fats are usually found in animal products (although they can also be found in vegetable oils like coconut, palm ou kernel oils) and they are associated with raising cholesterol levels in your body, so they should be consumed with caution;
  • Trans-fats are the fats you find in processed foods, snacks, commercial cakes, cookies, fried foods, stick margarines, etc. They are created artificially by heating regular oil, which forces hydrogen atoms onto polyunsaturated fats and have bigger shelf-life than other fats and they don't produce smoke when heated ... and they will kill you. ...or at least they will increase your risk of cardiovascular disease... so keep them away whenever possible;

Carbs are another "bad boy", today. Like fats, it is important to understand what they are and why they are important. But also, how they should be consumed... yes, we're going to have rules and try to debunk some myths.

Carbs are the primary source of energy and include simple sugars and complex carbohydrates (whether they have up to two sugar units, like glucose, frutose, maltose, etc. or more sugar units, like starch, glycogen or cellulose). The former are water soluble and absorbed quickly by your body. The latter, on the other hand, either require enzymes to break the molecules apart (like in starch) or don't get absorbed at all (like fibers)

And your body loves them... have you ever felt your mouth begin to water when you smelled fresh-baked bead or thought of your favorite chocolate? That's your body preparing the saliva, with the enzimes it will need to break the carbs apart, continuing to be broken apart through your digestive system until they are monosaccharides and absorbed. Now, they can be used promptly or stored. But if they are stored this will be triggered by insulin and it can be in the form of glycogen ou fat.

The thing with energy in your body is that while it prefers to use glucose for energy, it can use protein to produce this energy... but then it's not using protein to what it should, building (or rebuilding) your body. So you really should have about half of your daily energy intake being carbs, but you should also watch what you're eating... prefer foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, etc.

So... how do I build a diet program?[edit]

First of all, a disclaimer: if you're serious about making changes to your diet and lifestyle, you really should consult with a dietician or your doctor. I mean, you do see an architect when you want to build a house, or a lawyer if you want to sue someone... it's no different. Also, mind that these are empirical formulas... they are meant to give you a general idea for generic individual, whose organism might not be quite like yours.

Another important thing to consider is that these are greatly affected by body composition. The formulas presented here do not take into account this factor, but is your body fat percentage is greater than about 30%, you should not consider these formulas. There are specific formulas for obese people, but you really should get professional help to ensure your safety as well as your health.

That being said, there are things you might learn, that give you a rough first approach to be refined.

Basal Metabolic Rate[edit]

First of all, you need to know your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). That is how much energy you spend doing nothing. And brace yourself... we're going metric!

Male:    BMR = 9.99W + 6.25H + 4.92A + 5

Female: BMR = 9.99W + 6.25H + 4.92A - 161

With: W - weight in kg; H - height in cm; A - age in years.

So, let's look at Bruce, a 30 year old male who weighs 80kg and is 170cm high: BMR = 9.99*80 +6.255*170 + 4.92*30 + 5 = 2014 kcal
On the other hand, Joan, a 30 year old female who weighs 60kg and is 165cm high: BMR = 9.99*60 + 6.25*165 + 4.92*30 - 161 = 1617 kcal

Total Daily Energy Expenditure[edit]

Next, you need to input how active you are and what your goal is...

  • Objective
    • 1.1 to 1.3 for mass gain
    • 1.0 for maintainig
    • 0.8 to 1.0 for mass loss
  • Effort
    • 1.2 for sedentary people with desk jobs and no sports;
    • 1.4 for people who practice light sports 1 to 3 times a week;
    • 1.5 or people with moderate exercise 2 to 4 times a week or jobs which involve physical activity;
    • 1.7 for people who pratice sport 4+ times a week or a job with considerable amount of physical activity;
    • 1.8 for active people who pratice sports and have a job with considerable amount of physical activity.

So, your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) will be:

TDEE = BMR \times Objetive \times Effort

Again, Bruce has a desk job, but intends to hit th gym twice a week to burn some fat: TDEE = 2014 * 0.8 * 1.5 = 2417 kcal/day
As for Joan, she goes to the gym, but wants to step up her game up to 4 and make some gains: TDEE = 1617 * 1.5 * 1.1 = 2668 kcal/day

Notice how these factors affected our subjects... while Bruce will only need 2400 kcal, in order to loose some weight (he will be burning more calories than he will be taking), Joan, who had a BMR inferior to Bruce's, will need 2670 kcal to acomplish her goals.

Proteins[edit]

The first thing you will calculate is the amount of protein you will need... we are builing strength, and it comes from the muscles. Another path could be taken if we were training for endurance or other excercise.

What you first need to establish is your daily need, which will be:

  • 0.8 for sedentary people;
  • 1 to 1.5 for most activities
  • 1.5 to 2.0 for muscle building (strength or bodybuilding)
For Bruce, let's set him up with 1.3g for 80kg, that's 104g of protein per day.
And, for Joan, we'll crank up to 1.8g for 60kg, that's 108g per day

So we see that even though they have different caloy needs, their protein needs are quite similar.

Fats[edit]

As for protein, go for 1 to 2 g/kg of fat for body weight. Go nearer to 2 g/day you do more cardio.

If you want to lose bodyfat, you could consider only your lean body weight to calculate your fat and even decrease further, but as a general guide, don't go beneath 0.6 g/kg of bodyweight.

Bruce's looking to loose weight, so let's go for 1.2g for 80kg, that's 96g of fat per day.
And, for Joan, she's not looking to loose weight and women tend to store more fatty tissue, let's go for 1.4g for 60kg, leaving us at 84g.

Carbs[edit]

Now, for carbs... it's the rest! What do I mean?

Count 4kcal/g for protein ans 9 kcal/g for fat. The rest up to the TDEE will be carbs, with the carbs contributing with 4 kcal/g. So:

For Bruce: 2417 - 104*4 - 96*9 = 1137 kcal. This means he will need 284 g of carbs (1137/4)
For Joan: 2668 - 108*4 - 84*9 = 1480 kcal. To consume these calories, she will need 370 g of carbs (1480/4)

But my friend told me carbs (or insulin) were evil.[edit]

While you can find a chocolate bar to have as many carbs as a portion of nuts, the nuts will consist of complex carbs, that your body will consume over time and use as energy, while the chocolate bar will have simples sugars, which will be quicly absorbed and stored as fat, requiring insulin.

Now, the thing is: when you eat and you bloodstream is filled with amino acids, fatty acids and glucose, insulin is released to your organism. It's purpose is to tell the organism to absorb the nutrients, but logically.

To produce energy, your body could do two things: use the fresh glucose or use the energy stored in the fat. But it's like us with our money: you use the money you received now, you don't save it in the bank and use the money you received first, right? It sits there untill you need it. And so it is with fat; your body stores it's energy for when you might need it and not have enough available.

So, the presence of insulin also tells your body to not use fat cells and stimulates the creation of body fat. And people thick that by consuming carbs, your body maintains a high insulin level and so is always in "fat storage mode"

But... does this mean your friend was right? No. Your body is also always burning energy, even after you're done eating and so, on a healthy living, it will be floating between excess intake and excess consumption during the day. To reduce these differences you should eat less and more often, and not big portions 2 or 3 times a day. And exercise... always exercise!

What about supplements?[edit]

How can I choose the best whey?[edit]

Qt of whey > 70%

Aminogram

aminospiking

You said something about rules...?[edit]

Yes, I did. It is not enough to know how much you should eat... it is also important when and how you eat it. So, here are some rules:

  1. Always prefer natural products to processed ones. Procesed foods are always riddled with sugar, preservatives and any number of things you didn't expect to be there and don't need. Plus, it's cheaper to buy a chicken breast and vegetables than hamburguers and fries.
  2. Eat smaller portions throughout the day. Is you skip meals you will "compensate" later in the day and eat bigger portions that your body will need to store as fat, instead of keeping a steady rythm thoughout the day.
  3. Prefer wholegrains. The more fiber, the longer your body will take to absorb the nutrients and, again, the more steady is your rythm throughout the day.
  4. Avoid carbs after 6 p.m..Your body will not need immediate sources of energy, so it is better to just eat protein and fibers (salads, etc) and not bread, baked goods, etc., which your body will, again, store as unnecessary fat.
  5. Drink lots of water. We didn't go into how much water you should drink daily, but think of 2 litres and never less than 1.5 l of water per day. Carry a bottle with you at all times and sip occasionally.
  6. Be reasonable, don't overdo it. Most people I've met that failed to keep up with their diet did so because they had a very strict plan and became disappointed after th first few mistakes... if you slipped today, try again tomorrow.

See also:[edit]

I'm sorry for not making the correct references... but most of what I read is here.

USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference

TDEE Calculator

Learn About Carbohydrates

Fat Structure and Functions

Protein Structure and Metabolism

How Insulin Really Works: It Causes Fat Storage…But Doesn’t Make You Fat