When it comes to diets and dieting, generally you’ll find the emphasis is on how many calories you get each day, not which food groups the calories actually come from. So how much protein and carbohydrates do we need? What about fat? And why does it matter?
Well it matters because if you want to get a six pack and generally be fit and healthy, you need to provide your body with materials it needs to achieve this. Including more fat than you might think.
Protein repairs and maintains every living cell in your body, including muscle and six packs. But despite the importance placed upon it, especially by supplement companies, it should make up only about 30% of your diet. It’s found naturally in meat, dairy, pulses, legumes and nuts.
Carbohydrates are to people what petrol is to a car. They fuel your workouts and if you don’t get enough you’ll feel tired, have low energy, and because your brain has a big appetite for them you’ll probably also be in a bad mood too. Replacing carbohydrates after a workout is just as, if not more important, than getting your protein. Sources are oats, pasta, rice, potatoes and bread and it should make up about 50% of your diet.
Although all fats have in the past been put together into the category of, “Bad! Avoid at all costs!” they are in fact essential. Unsaturated fats like olive oil, fish oil and sunflower oil, saturated fats like those from meat, and even cholesterol is needed to help absorb vitamins, provide energy and is essential for brain functioning. For this reason you should aim to get about 20% of it in your diet. Concentrate on the unsaturated sources, the rest will take care of themselves!
Percentages don’t mean a lot to most people though, so here’s how to change them into something simpler that you can use. To do this you need to know what your total overall calorie requirement is (which you can find here), but for now let’s say it’s 2,500 a day.
2500 multiplied by 0.3 = 750 calories from protein
2500 multiplied by 0.5 = 1250 calories from carbohydrates
2500 multiplied by 0.2 = 500 calories from fat
Hopefully that means a little more to you, but just how much fat is 500 calories worth? Well with a trusty calculator it’s easy to find out.
1 gram of protein has 4 calories, so 750 divided by 4 = 187.5
1 gram of carbohydrates has 4 calories, so 1250 divided by 4 = 312.5
1 gram of fat has 9 calories, so 500 divided by 9 = 55.5
So someone who requires 2,500 calories a day should have:
187.5 grams of protein
312.5 grams of carbohydrates
55.5 grams of fat
The only thing left to tell you now is that each of those should be divided equally into each meal. So if you’re having 6 meals a day that’s 31 grams of protein, 52 grams of carbohydrates, and 9 grams of fat for each.
I know what you’re thinking. That’s a lot of sums and looks complicated. But it really isn’t. And just that alone will go a long way to improving your diet, your energy levels, your workout and your results.
As always, any questions or feedback leave a comment below.