This page is designed to be viewed alongside two of my videos. The page gives more information about how I calculate and plan for healthy, nutritious food for me and others that both helps people enjoy their food while taking them towards their fitness goals.
The first part of this page gives more information relating to my video ‘Easy Nutrition – the Numbers’ – you can see this video on ChrisNutrition001 – if you haven’t seen this, please check it out now as it goes into more detail than what follows on this page, and will help you understand it more easily, especially if reproducing the calculations for yourself.
STEP 1 : The first step is to calculate a target daily calorie requirement. This is a fairly simple calculation – divide weight in kg by 3, then multiply by 100. This leads to the approximate daily calories to be consumed which I have found will help maintain weight (assuming the rest of the plan is also followed).
Chris example – I weigh 75kg – so divide by 3 = 25 then multiply by 100 = 2500 calories.
STEP 2 : Then add 10% if you want to gain weight, or deduct 10% if you want to lose weight – or leave it alone if you are happy with your overall weight.
Chris example – I want to lose weight, so I will take 10% off the calculation and this gives 2500 x 90% = 2250.
STEP 3 : These calculations assume that significant fitness activities are undertaken, perhaps about 8-10 hours of activity (resistance and/or cardio) over the course of the week. If you do less fitness activity than this, or are generally less active in your normal day-to-day existence, take off 10%. So this could be 20% you are taking off if you are both inactive by this definition and want to lose weight.
Chris example – I’m active and do about 10 hours exercise per week, so I’m not going to make any adjustment to my 2250 number.
Try this for a month, and if the weight isn’t changing as you’d like it to, adjust the calories accordingly. The idea is to get to a target number of daily calories before we move to the next step.
STEP 4 : Divide the target number of daily calories into the three macronutrient groups – proteins, carbohydrates and fats. There are many different opinions on how the ratio should work, but the one I’ve found that works well and is easy to use is 40% protein, 40% carbs and 20% fat.
Chris example – 40% of my 2250 daily calories = 900. 20% of that 2250 = 450. So my target number of calories from each of the macronutrients are: Protein = 900 calories, Carbs = 900 calories, Fat = 450 calories.
STEP 5 : Convert those numbers of calories into grams of the relevant nutrient. There are 4 calories in a gram of protein, 4 calories in a gram of carbs, and 9 calories in a gram of fat. So divide the numbers from the last step by 4, 4 and 9 respectively. Then you have your target weight of protein, carbs and fat per day – ready for you to start looking at nutrition labels.
Chris example – Protein = 900 calories divided by 4 = 225g. Carbs = 900 calories divided by 4 = 225g. Fat = 450 calories divided by 9 = 50g. So for me, my daily target of grams of protein, carbs and fats are 225g, 225g and 50g respectively.
From now on – I’m going to use the notation of (calories/grams of protein/grams of carbs/grams of fats) on this page. So my daily total target numbers are shown simply as (2250/225/225/50).
STEP 6 : Plan your meal times. Again there are many opinions on this, but the method I have found that works best (and again is easy to use) is five meals per day, three traditional meals and two snacks between them. Try to plan these on the basis of a 12-hour overnight fast – a period of 12 hours each day when you don’t eat. And try to get about 3 hours between each meal. An ideal breakdown, that I often use, could be:
Chris example – 8am breakfast – 11am morning snack – 2pm lunch – 5pm afternoon snack – 8pm dinner – then 12 hours overnight before breakfast, which of course is break-fast.
There actually is a sixth ‘meal’ – which is post-workout nutrition which is in addition to the other five meals. This can be at any time of the day, whenever your main workout of the day is.
STEP 7: Set the amount of calories per meal. Make the post workout nutrition to be the same as in each of the snacks, and I like the main meals to be twice the size of the snacks. A quick way of doing this is to divide your target daily calories into 9 blocks – and use 2 blocks for main meals, and 1 block for snacks and post-workout.
Chris example – 2250 divided by 9 = 250 – which is the size of a block
Breakfast, lunch and dinner – each : 2 blocks – 500 calories
Morning snack, afternoon snack, post-workout – each: 1 block – 250 calories
Total is 2250 calories
You can forget the concept of blocks now – it is just used for calculating the target meal sizes.
STEP 8: Set the number of grams of the macronutrients by meal. To start off with, lets do an even split – splitting the grams in the same ratio across each meal.
Chris example – reminder – daily target is (2250/225/2250/50) – from step 5.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner – each to be (500/50/50/11)
Morning snack, afternoon snack and post-workout – each to be (250/25/25/5)
Its not vital to get the split correct (or even close) within each meal. Its much more important to get close to the daily total at the end of each day – before the 12 hour overnight fast.
Optional step – If you can arrange it, try to spread the protein and fats as described above, but for carbs, go ‘carb-heavy’ in the mornings and ‘carb-light’ in the evenings. So I’d be happy for my breakfast to be carb-heavy at (580/50/70/11) and my dinner to be carb-light at (420/50/30/11). But feel free to ignore this refinement if it is a ‘step too far’ and leave the calories spread across the six meals as described above.
The remainder of this page looks at a sample breakdown of real food that makes up a typical day – again using myself as an example. This is a real day, so its not perfect – but its pretty good.
This data adds to the second video ChrisNutrition002 – if you haven’t seen this, please check it out now, as it goes into more detail than what follows on this page and will help you understand it.
I’m going to continue to use the notation of (calories/grams of protein/grams of carbs/grams of fats) on this page. So, for example, my daily total target numbers are shown simply as (2250/225/225/50). Note that the numbers don’t add up exactly – there are some rounding factors plus some minor labelling inconsistencies and differences with the measurements used on the video, but these all account for only a very small number of grams so can be ignored.
(320/10/54/7) – 90g oats
(105/21/2/1) – 1 scoop chocolate whey protein isolate mixed with water
(58/1/13/1) – one cup of mixed berries (rapsberries and blueberries)
(53/1/1/5) – small amount (14g) of mixed nuts
(535/33/70/14) – TOTAL breakfast – note heavy on carbs due to first main meal
Morning snack 11am
(210/18/0/15) – three large whole eggs made into omelette
(58/7/0/3) – 30g sliced smoked salmon cut into small chunks
(268/26/0/18) – TOTAL morning snack
(271/51/0/6) – 170g of grilled, skinless, boneless chicken breast
(156/4/34/0) – 115g rice
(54/4/5/1) – 160g mixed veg – brocolli, beans, carrot, courgette
(482/58/40/7) – TOTAL lunch
Afternoon snack 5pm
(244/30/21/5) – high protein, low sugar bar – CNP XS Probar or Carb Killa bar
(244/30/21/5) – TOTAL afternoon snack
(200/45/0/2) – 200g lean breast turkey mince
(112/2/26/0) – 130g medium sized sweet potato with skin
(82/3/6/4) – 160g pack of stir fry vegetables
(35/2/8/0) – 160g mixed green salad
(429/52/40/7) – TOTAL dinner lower carbs – note lower carbs as last main meal
Post-workout – whenever
(196/44/2/1) – 2 scoops strawberry whey protein isolate mixed with water
(113/0/30/0) – Banana – 127g
(309/42/33/1) – TOTAL post-workout
This gives totals for day of (2266/243/201/52) which is close to the target of (2250/225/225/50). But not perfect. Protein is 3% higher than the planned 40% figure, and carbs are 4% below. To me, that is within measurement or estimation error – and well within what I call ‘real life’ adjustment. It would be too hard from a practical basis in the real world for me to keep closer than that on a daily basis.
As a rule, I’m happy if every one of the four numbers is within 10% of what it should be each day. So, for today, with every one of the four numbers being within 10% of the target, it counts as a good nutrition day!