Follow these simple guidelines and you can achieve any result you want, whether it’s gaining muscle or strength, losing fat, maingaining (adding a small amount of muscle while leaning out), or just feeling and performing better.
These will be underwhelming for those looking for unknown or underground dieting secrets, but they work better than any fake secret some YouTube authority is trying to sell you.
1 Eat mostly unprocessed foods.
Meat, seafood, eggs, fruits, veggies, nuts, unprocessed grains, etc. If these constitute at least 80% of your caloric intake, it’s extremely hard to go wrong.
2 Ingest 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.
This is at the upper limit of what’s needed. You could eat a bit less and be fine. But since protein isn’t efficiently stored as fat, it’s better to consume a bit too much than too little. Just use common sense. If you’re 350 pounds and obese, you don’t need 350 grams of protein, but you probably do need more protein than you’re currently consuming.
This amount of protein is enough to help you build muscle, perform optimally, minimize muscle loss when dieting, and keep you more satiated if your main goal is fat loss.
3 Adjust your caloric intake to your goal and expenditure.
The first step? Find out how many calories you need to maintain your current weight. There are formulas for that, but most aren’t really adequate. And anyway, your caloric expenditure varies from day to day. Also, someone who’s been a chronic dieter will have a much different “real energy requirement.”
I suggest recording everything you eat for 5 to 10 days. The longer you do it, the more accurate it is. Weigh yourself in the morning of day one and in the morning after your last day.
Calculate your average daily caloric intake. Then look at your bodyweight change.
If you gained weight, that average caloric intake is a surplus. If you lost weight, it’s a deficit. If your weight stayed stable, it’s likely close to your maintenance level.
Once you’ve figured out what your maintenance level is, it’s very easy to plan your daily caloric intake:
- For building maximum muscle while accepting some fat gain: More than a 25-30% surplus
- For building muscle with a little fat gain: 20-25% caloric surplus
- For building some muscle with minimal fat gain: 10-15% caloric surplus
- For building a small amount of muscle while maintaining leanness: 2.5-7.5% surplus
- For getting leaner while hopefully adding a small amount of muscle: 5% deficit up to maintenance intake
- For losing fat without losing muscle: 10-15% caloric deficit
- For losing a lot of fat while minimizing muscle loss: 15-20% caloric deficit
- For maximum fat loss (higher risk of muscle loss): 20-30% caloric deficit