Let's break it down. Credit:myfitnesspal & reddit
This is bad for a whole host of reasons:
Micronutrients? One serving of salad and veg is not enough. You need to have more variety or get a multivitamin in there. This WILL NOT address your low mineral intake though.
Macronutrients? Broken down your carb/protein/fat ratio is 1/0.18/0.12 which is abysmal. Far too much carbohydrates and far too little protein. Your body will struggle to build muscle using that fuel breakdown; you simply need more protein.
Rather than put you down any more, let's focus on what you need to do:
How do I make a meal plan that is good?
The best meal plan is always going to be the one that you create yourself. It is important that you take ownership of your meal planning - it will be easier to adhere to and easier to hold yourself accountable if you can't abdicate the responsibility onto someone else making your eating choices for you. Consistency is the most important part of getting results when changing your diet, and the easier it is for you to be consistent, the better.
One of the most important factors in making dietary changes stick is that they not be too drastic. This is another reason it's important that you create your own meal plan - no one knows what foods you like better than you do. Including as many foods that you already know that you like is crucial to promote adherence.
A simple and straightforward process for creating a meal plan might go something like this:
- Calculate your approximate calorie and macronutrient needs (more on this later).
- Make a list of foods and recipes that you already know that you like. Use Google or /r/Fitmeals to find additional ideas.
- Use resources like MyFitnessPal and nutritional labels at the grocery store to calculate the nutritional content of the foods from Step 2. If you're trying to do this on a budget, this is also a good time to calculate the cost of each food.
- Arrange your foods and recipes until your calorie and macronutrient needs from Step 1 are met. A common way of doing this is the "If It Fits Your Macros" or "flexible dieting" method.
- Enjoy your delicious food.
A note about eating the same thing every day: This is a really easy way to ensure you are always hitting your calorie and macronutrient requirements, however, it is not for everybody. Some people will get bored with this method and their adherence can suffer as a result. Feel free to create multiple different meal plans for different days that all meet your nutritional requirements
How do I calculate my macros?
"Macros" is short for macronutrients. These include dietary carbohydrate, protein, and fat. Alcohol is a fourth macro, but it is not usually budgeted for on it own and its consumption typically comes at the expense of the carbohydrate allotment. Key to setting up your macro split is knowing your total calorie intake needs and the fact that protein and carbohydrates have ~4 calories per gram, while fat contains ~9 calories per gram. (Alcohol clocks in at ~7 calories per gram.) While everyone will have different needs and preferences for their macronutrient breakdown, the following is a generic guide to get you started. We calculate macros from the ground up, but always in the context of total calorie intake.
Protein intake is the starting point. If calories are king, protein is queen. There is a large body of evidence emerging that shows adequate protein intake as a key element to achieving body weight and composition goals. (1)(2)(3)(4)(5)(6)(7)(8)
One gram of protein per pound of body weight (1 g/lb) or 2.2 grams per kilogram (2.2 g/kg) is the traditional recommendation for protein intake. However, this can be considered the upper bound of target intake, with the suggested range spanning 0.45-1 g/lb (1.0-2.2 g/kg) of total body weight.
Fats are essential for many bodily functions including metabolism, brain function, and hormone production. For this reason, and despite decades of the low-fat dieting trend, fat calories are not "worse" than other calories. After your essential fatty acid needs are met in the diet, the remaining allocation for fat intake is largely determined by personal preference. A general rule of thumb and good starting point is 0.4 g-0.5 g/lb (0.9-1.1 g/kg) of total body weight.
Now that the essential macros have been calculated, we must refer back to the goal calorie intake to tie it all together. As such, the remaining allotment for carb intake is determined by subtracting your goal protein and fat intakes from your calorie intake. Basically, whatever caloric intake is left over after determining your protein and fat needs is met by carbohydrate consumption. So your goal carb intake in grams = [Goal calories - (Px4 + Fx9)] ÷ 4 where P and F are target grams of protein and fat, respectively. This result can range from 0.0-2.2 g/lb (0-4.8 g/kg) of total body weight and beyond depending on performance needs and personal preference.
To give an example of this process, let's look at a typical scenario: Billy is 22, 5'9 (175 cm), and 175 lb (79 kg) and works out 3x/week. His estimated TDEE is 2450, but he wants to lose fat and gain muscle, so he is taking the advice given above and planning to consume 1890 calories daily. Using the suggestions above, Billy decides he should aim for 140 g protein (0.8 g/lb), 70 g fat (0.4 g/lb), and 175 g carbs (1 g/lb).
Remember that protein is the cornerstone of any macro split. Once you set your protein goal, the remaining allocation of fats and carbs is largely personal in nature. Given matched protein intakes, diets differing in fat and carb make-up do not perform any differently in terms of weight or composition changes. Don't be afraid to experiment with different intakes to find the set up that works best for your goals.
It's important to base your macro calculations on your own body stats - especially protein. Calculating macros as a percentage of calorie intake can create situations where some intakes are inadequate or overkill. Also, if you are significantly overweight, using your total body weight would be inappropriate for this activity and would heavily skew your macro split. In this instance, instead base your calculations on your lean body mass. Conversely, if you are significantly underweight, you may instead want to use your goal body weight.
How do I estimate my calories?
Now that you know all about macronutrients/caloric needs of the body, a question that's often asked is:
"I don't make my food, how do I calculate it?"
The reasons for this range from "I live at home/college/with a significant other who is the cook" to "I live in hotels for work/am a food critic". Regardless, learning to estimate how much you're eating is a skill everyone should have.
Use a Calorie Counter's "Meal" function
Many sites have pre-entered estimates from other users already in their respective databases. Use this until you feel comfortable with foods you know. Familiarity with sizes/numbers is the best way to learn how to estimate what you're eating.
Use "rule of thumb" charts
SparkPeople has the most well-known of these charts, but they are everywhere on the Internet. The same basic concept is here as with using an actual calculator, but it doesn't require as much repetition to learn. You can even carry cheat sheets with you, or just leave them at work.
Use "real-life" objects as portion size estimators
It's much easier to estimate sizes if you have something to relate it to that you deal with every day. Whether that be an unrelated set of objects that you can visualise, or a set of objects you deal with every day, knowing that the meal the waiter just dropped in front of you is roughly 2 cups of potato and a pound of steak makes it much easier to either use your online calorie counter, or your rule of thumb.
Finally, Can I still get strong if I am a Vegetarian / Vegan?
Yes. Protein requirements vary, but you will probably want to consume a protein supplement in addition to your normal diet if you are strength training. Rice protein, hemp protein, and gemma pea protein are good options, as is soy. Egg or whey protein is ideal if that is allowed.
There are certain important factors to keep in mind when considering vegetable protein. PDCAAS, the FAO/WHO standard for determining protein quality, considers soy protein to be just as useful as whey or animal protein. Unfortunately, recent research suggests that measurements such as BV and PDCAAS do not take into account important factors such as anti-nutritional factors and chymotrypsin inhibitors. These anti-nutritional factors limit the extent to which your body can utilize the protein and are commonly found in soy and other vegetable protein isolates. Thus, it is important to keep in mind that you may require a higher dosage of vegetable protein to gain the same effect.
If you aim for a more moderate but still adequate protein intake (1-1.2 g/kg bodyweight or lean mass), then you can achieve this through a healthy and smart diet. Just be aware to eat varied sources for a more complete distribution of amino acids.
Check out /r/veganfitness for more info.
High Calorie Complex Foods
Here is a list of foods to consider if you are looking to bulk:
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Peanut Butter
- Greek Yogurt
- Wholegrain rice/pasta and potatoes (sweet/normal)
- Beans (black beans are great)
Full list of foods listed by protein amount is here (ignore anything with meat in)