So you are ready to create your nutrition plan, but where do you start and what do you include?
Here is some of our best advice…
START WITH THE 7 DAY CARB CYCLE
Wondering how to programme your nutrition plan? No matter your goal, the 7 day carb cycle is a great starting point that can be easily adapted to suit you.
It works. We know because it’s been tried and tested, time and time again with amazing results. Begin with the standard 7 day carb cycle, then progress or regress as necessary to follow the strict or easy version. You can find the full library of nutrition cycles here.
What’s the diet style?
Essentially, it’s a 7 day carb cycle, meaning the amount of carbs you eat will vary from day to day over the course of the week. You’ll eat high carbs every Wednesday and Saturday, and low to medium carbs every other day of the week. Follow this for an initial 2 weeks, eating as low carbs as possible, to massively boost your long term goal, help the way your body handles carbs and get leaner at a faster rate.
WHAT’S YOUR GOAL?
Next, consider your motivation. Do you want to lose weight, tone up, look leaner or gain muscle? Your calories, macros and diet for the week will all vary depending on your goal. Whatever it is, explore different templates and diet styles to suit you.
For fat loss
Want to lose weight? You need to eat in a calorie deficit. A calorie deficit means you’re eating less calories than your total caloric expenditure. To start, try a small calorie deficit. If you lose more than 2-3 pounds per week, it’s likely you can increase your calories. Only drop calories during your weight loss programme once you stop losing weight (or in turn increase your activity and keep your calories the same).
Nutrition styles to follow for fat loss include
- 7 day carb cycle
- 5 day carb cycle
- Carb backload
To maintain your results
If you’ve lost weight and want to maintain your results, you need to switch to maintenance calories. This means you’re eating the same calories as your total caloric expenditure. This way, you will stay the same weight without gaining or losing anything.
For muscle gain
Looking to gain muscle? You’ll usually have to eat in a calorie surplus, which means you’re eating more calories than your total caloric expenditure. To maximise your results, we recommend aiming to eat the least calories possible while gaining muscle tissue, so start off on maintenance calories for the first 2 weeks of your programme. This way you have room to add calories later on in the plan. When you do increase your calories, add 250-500 over maintenance to see the best results depending on your body type. Eating carbs post workout or carb backloading are two good nutrition styles to follow for those wanting to gain muscle.
Once you’ve set your plan, don’t be afraid to make changes along the way if you’re not seeing results. For example, if you’re following the 7 day carb cycle, you may want to regress to the easy version, 2 day carb cycle or carb backloading to make some good initial progress.
CONSIDER YOUR TIME FRAME
How long you have to achieve your goal will also influence your nutrition plan. The more time you have, the better, as you can experiment with what works best and gets the results you want. However, we know that’s not always the case, and often lots of people have a shorter term goal. Let’s take a look at some examples of different time frames and what you may need to do to suit it…
You may have a short term goal to get in shape for a wedding, holiday or other big event, which means your nutrition plan must be stricter. If you’ve got just 6 weeks to hit your goal, you need to make certain changes to your diet to make sure you see results quicker, such as consuming less calories or eating the best quality food possible.
Nutrition plans for more mid term goals don’t have to be as strict, as it’s a gradual process with more time to see what works best for you and brings about the best results. For example, you could start on a slightly higher amount of calories and gradually cut back, or change the nutrition style to suit your lifestyle.
Perhaps you have a longer term goal focusing on fat loss and to improve your general health and wellbeing. Start the 6 months on as high calories as possible while losing weight, gradually dropping your calories or increasing your activity if you plateau.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
Whether your goal is short term or long term, the more you can educate yourself on food and nutrition, the better. For example, learning about good quality proteins, healthy sources of carbs, fats and more will help you achieve better results in the long run.
Protein is essential for growth, repair and maintenance of the body, vital for a healthy diet and possibly the most important nutrient to get right. No matter your goal, you should aim to eat 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day. Read everything you need to know about protein here.
Carbohydrates are found in a wide range of foods and their main function is to generate energy. A key part of nutrition, carbs can help you achieve your goal when used properly and not abused. It’s all about eating the right type of carb and the correct amount for your body type and end goal. Find more about carbs here.
Fats aren’t all bad for you, and healthy fats are encouraged in your diet. Your body needs some fat from food as an alternative source of fuel to carbs, to help regulate certain hormones and aid absorption of certain vitamins and minerals. Want to know more? Click here for all the information you need on fats.