This plan is great for those who are relatively lean but would like to gain some muscle while shedding some fat. You will be rotating between moderate carb, low carb, and high carb days. If you picked this plan you are training 6 days a week. Make sure that your high carb days fall on your core and cardio days. Like any flexible dieting plan, as long as you reach your macronutrient goals daily, any food choices are allowed. But, this plan will work best if you choose healthy, nutrient dense foods. You will be allowed one refeed meal on the day before your rest day. For most people training Monday-Saturday, this will be Saturday. During this meal you are allowed to eat whatever you want. We recommend eating very low carbs and fat around this meal. If you choose to eat this meal for breakfast you will eat low carbs and fat the rest of the day. If you choose to eat this meal for dinner, eat low carbs and fat leading up to the meal. We want you to be able to eat whatever you want for your refeed meal and not have to count macros during that meal. Eating smart around this meal will help to make sure that you stay close to your macronutrient goals for the day.
Your body becomes more efficient at digesting any macronutrient the more it becomes exposed to it. At first, you may not want to dive straight into eating all of the recommended protein for the day. It could be hard to digest if you do not regularly eat large quantities of protein. If you regularly consume more than 50 grams of protein less than what your diet prescribes, it is a good idea to start lower than the recommended amount. Start with .9 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. Add 3 grams of protein every day until you reach the recommended amount.
This plan was developed to work perfectly with your training plan. Many times we see people having a high carb day on their hardest training day. Your high carb day will have the most impact on the day after you train. If you choose this plan, our goal is for you to be a little depleted of muscle glycogen when you enter your core and cardio days. Muscle glycogen is your body's storage of carbohydrates. Being a little depleted of muscle glycogen going into your core and cardio day will help your body to utilize more fat for fuel. You don't want to be depleted on lifting days because this will have a negative impact on your performance. After your core and cardio are completed, you will eat a large amount of carbohydrates during your high carb day. This will refuel you for the upcoming workouts. Since we want you to hit your cardio with less carbohydrates in your system, it is best to complete your cardio before you eat carbohydrates on this day.
Macronutrients are protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Every gram of each macronutrient contains calories. Protein and carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram, and fat contains 9 calories per gram. The way your body responds to each macronutrient is very different. Although protein and carbohydrates have the same amount of calories per gram, the effect on your body is not the same. This is why just counting calories is not an effective way of dieting. Eating carbohydrates, especially high glycemic carbs, increase the levels of the hormone insulin. Chronically high insulin levels can make the cells more resistant to insulin, leading to weight gain and diabetes.
Also, some foods burn more calories to digest than others. This is called the thermic effect of food. Animal protein and leafy greens take much more energy to digest than white bread and candy. This is why counting macronutrients is so important. It is a way to make sure your calories are coming from foods that will help you be lean and support muscle repair and growth. In your grocery list you will find tons of examples of proteins, carbs, and fats.
Protein is a vital macronutrient, and the most important macronutrient to build muscle. Protein is a class of nitrogen-containing compounds formed by amino acids. These amino acids are used by our bodies to repair, and build muscle tissue. A high concentration of amino acids in the blood stream is imperative to keeping your body in an anabolic (muscle building) state. This will allow your body every chance to repair and build muscle. This also will reduce day to day recovery time and reduce muscle soreness. This is why we recommend consuming at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. In this plan your protein intake is based off your desired bodyweight. This amount of protein will ensure speedy recovery and muscle growth.
It is best to get all recommended protein for the day from whole foods. This doesn't mean that protein supplements aren't great, but they have more purpose for post workout recovery and should not be used to replace a meal unless it is a last resort. Grass fed beef, free range chicken and eggs, wild caught fish, and wild game are top picks for protein sources. These sources are the best for health, vitality, longevity, and quality of life. They are high in omega-3 fatty acids and have a low inflammatory response. With that said, history has proven that muscle can be built eating canned tuna, canned chicken, etc.. We know that these types of foods are very convenient, and are sometimes necessary when eating 4-5 meals a day and living a busy lifestyle.
Fat is essential for many functions in the body. Fat is an essential component of cell membranes and nerve fibers, it is our primary energy source in a resting state, and all steroid hormones in the body are produced from cholesterol. Your diet plan allows for enough fat to keep our body functioning at a high level, but are low enough to cut out unnecessary calories that could be holding you back from getting lean. Fat yields the most calories per gram at 9 and because of this, it is very easy to eat too many calories if you consume too much fat.
Carbohydrates are turned into glucose (simple sugar) during digestion. Upon the ingestion of carbohydrates, insulin is released and binds to muscle tissue cells to shuttle glucose into the cell to be stored as muscle glycogen. Muscle glycogen is the body's stored source of carbohydrates. Muscle glycogen is stored by skeletal muscle and used as an energy source during exercise. The common mistake made by most people (and the primary reason for the obesity epidemic) is eating carbohydrates all day long. The body can only store a limited amount of carbohydrates as muscle glycogen. Elite athletes have ability to store more than the average Joe, but there is still a limit. Once muscle glycogen has been restored to capacity, all excess carbohydrates must go somewhere. If you are not actively using these excess carbohydrates for energy, they will be turned into fat. This is why cycling carbohydrates works so effectively. You are guaranteeing that carbs are being used to restore muscle glycogen. Not eating carbs all the time also allows your body to become more sensitive to insulin because you are not constantly flooding your body with the hormone.
To be successful during this diet it is a good idea to eat 4-5 times a day. The reason for this isn't because it speeds up your metabolism, it is because it will give you a better chance to stay strict on the diet. If all of your meals are planned, there is a better chance you will hit all of your Macro goals. Also, if you eat more regularly you have a better chance to not be so hungry that you make a bad decision. That is the most common reason for slip ups. If you let yourself get too hungry, it is much easier to talk yourself into making a bad decision.
Eating out can be very tricky because you never know the exact amounts each cook/chef is putting into the foods you are eating. Even if there is macro breakdown for each meal, it may not be anywhere near accurate unless the chef is measuring everything exactly every time. To combat this limit eating out as much as possible.
When you do eat at a restaurant, try to estimate everything as closely as you can. Once you begin to track your food and get more comfortable with it you will start to have a better understanding of portion sizes and how much a certain amount of food really is. Always err on the side of caution and guess slightly higher for carbohydrates and fats to ensure you aren't going over.
Ask for vegetables to be cooked without oil/butter, dressings and sauces on the side, and pick the healthiest options that will compliment your nutrition plan the closet. Choose meal options such as: Lean Protein, Green Veggie, & Side of Carbohydrate (rice/potato) OR Salads with lean protein (make sure to pay attention to nuts, dressings, cheese, etc. that may be on top)
Pay attention to what you are ordering here - coffee drinks can be deceptively full of carbs, fats, and sugars. Most tasty coffee beverages have upwards of 300 calories & 40g of sugar in them! Stick with simple things, choose an Americano instead of a Latte (water instead of 2% milk), OR always choose nonfat milk to make it a little bit more macro-friendly. Instead of getting sugary syrups, opt for sugar free syrups or splenda (stevia is a great option if you are trying to watch the chemicals). Simple brewed coffee is also a great choice as long as you aren't adding a lot of sugars and cream/milks to it.
This goes along with the above section about ordering coffee. Don't drink your calories. Tons of different beverages out there are loaded with sugars and many people don't even realize it. Be aware of this and check nutrition labels. A 32oz Dr. Pepper contains 108 carbs, and it's not uncommon to see people drinking a couple of these a day. Cutting this out will have a huge impact on your body composition. Always opt for a 0 calorie choice and save your calories for actual food which will keep you full longer and give you more sustenance.
Use some creativity in the kitchen to add some variety into your meal choices. Adding in lower sugar/carb sauces can be a great way to mix up your meals so they don't all taste the same. Things like teriyaki sauce, barbeque sauce, or marinara can be great additions to your meals. Make sure to shop around and find the lowest sugar, most macro-friendly option you can and track what you are using in your meals.
Spices are a great way to add flavor to your dishes. Some spice blends contain sugar. That is really the only thing you need to look out for. Other than that, add whatever spices you want to your food.
Below are a few meal examples of what your days will look like on this diet. We do you not give you exact meal plans because this does not work long term. There are so many foods you can choose to fit into your day. Learning what foods contain a lot of fat, are high in protein and low in fat, are really high in carbs, etc… is the best way to be successful long term. At first it may seems like a task to check nutritional labels all the time and track your food, but after a few weeks you will start to have it down. It will turn into knowledge you can use for the rest of your life, and make eating healthy easy. Notice on the example meals that the macros are not exactly perfect. There will be a little variance here and there. It is hard to hit every goal to the exact gram. Make sure to not go over on carbs and fat, and make sure you get all of your protein. If you go over a little on protein that is fine. Also, we give you a list of macros for your carb night. Make sure to hit the protein goals for that day, but you really don't have to count anything that night. Just make sure you keep it to a 4 hour window of eating.
Myfitnesspal is a great way to track your daily macro goals. There are a ton of features, but the easiest way to use it is to simply put in the foods you are eating and make sure your macros line up. We have factored in all of your exercise to fit your macros, there is no need to track that in myfitnesspal.
The multiple variables in this macro calculator allow you to customize your macronutrients to any goal. Also, depending on how your body is reacting, you can easily change your macros on a week to week basis.
Here is how the calculator works:
Remember, nutrition is not an exact science. Everyone is very unique. These macros will be a great starting point. Based on your energy levels and how your body is responding to the diet, you may need to make adjustments weekly.
Protein - As stated above, try to get all of your protein through whole food sources. The way this diet is structured, only use protein shakes for post workout recovery and as a last resort to replace a meal. Because we are only using shakes post workout, do not count this protein toward your macronutrient goals for the day. Make sure to count the carbs and fat. You are not going to gain body fat from eating too much protein when you are working out this hard. If you choose to use shakes post workout, whey protein is a great choice. If you cannot tolerate whey, hemp protein is the next best. For post workout consume 20% of your bodyweight in grams. That equals 40 grams of protein for a 200lb male, roughly 2 servings of most whey protein brands. It doesn't need to be exact, just get close. It is a good idea to find a protein supplement that is very low in carbs and fat. This will help you to stick to your macros easier.
Creatine - Creatine is probably the most well researched supplement available. Studies have shown supplementing creatine can lead to enhance muscle gains, strength gains, power production and even decrease bodyfat. Loading creatine can help to top off the levels of creatine faster, but taking a maintenance dose will also top off the levels in your body in about a month. For loading take .12 grams of creatine per pound of bodyweight. Then continue to take .025 grams per pounds of bodyweight for maintenance.
Beta Alanine - Beta alanine increases the amount of carnosine stored in the muscle. Carnosine helps the muscle contract with more force and helps to balance the PH in the muscle by eliminating hydrogen ion build up in the during exercise. What does this mean for you? More work capacity. Take .025 grams per pounds of bodyweight daily. Make sure to break this up into 2-3 doses. Taking too much Beta Alanine at once can cause a flushing effect that can be very uncomfortable.
Fish Oil - In studies, fish oil has shown to help increase muscle mass, decrease soreness, decrease body fat, improve brain function, and many other things. Unless you are eating wild game, wild caught fish, and grass fed animals as your primary sources of protein, it is a good idea to add fish oil to your routine. Not all fish oil is great. The amount of omega 3s in your fish oil supplement is very important. Some labels read 1000mg of fish oil, but the omega 3 content is only 300mg. Make sure to buy a quality fish oil with a high amount of omega 3s. Shoot for half your body fat percentage in omega 3s per day. This may seem like a lot if you have a high bodyfat percentage, but it is even more beneficial if this is the case. If your body fat is in a category of obese, there is a good chance your cells do not respond well to insulin. Consuming high amounts of omega 3s can change the structure of your cells, leading to better insulin sensitivity.
Broccoli Raab Celery Arugula Asparagus Chard Chayote Eggplant Hearts of Palm Jicama Lettuce Radishes Spinach Bell Peppers, Green Cabbage, Green & Savoy Cauliflower Cucumber Mushrooms, Button Pumpkin Puree (1 cup) Rhubarb Summer Squash Zucchini Fennel Green Beans Mushrooms Okra Radicchio Tomatoes Bell Peppers, Red Broccoli Mushrooms
all vegetables all friuts bread tortillas Cereal Oats grits rice - white and brown Potatoes Pasta beans Most Sauces - bbq, teriyaki, etc - can find low carb options Soda, Juice, Milk has a high sugar content Junk food - candy, chips, ice cream, etc.
Oils - Coconut, Olive, etc. Nuts Butter Nut - Butters Avocado Heavy Cream Half and Half
Eggs Chicken Turkey Seafood - Fish, Scallops, Shrimp, etc... Beef Pork Wild Game - elk, bison, deer, emu Lamb Cottage Cheese Greek Yogurt
Tuna Canned Chicken Beef Jerky Cottage Cheese Greek Yogurt