The very first thing that we need to go over is your calorie intake. How many calories you consume on a daily basis will establish which direction your weight goes.
Eat more than you burn and you’ll gain weight.
Eat fewer than you burn and you’ll lose weight.
It’s pretty straightforward. The first step is calculating your target calorie intake. To do this, you’ll use the following equation to calculate your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which stands for how many calories you burn to simply stay alive:
BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) – ( 4.7 x age in years )
Once you have this number, then you need to factor activity into the mix. Since you do more than just sit around all day, you will need more calories to support your movement.
The Activity Multipliers To Use Include:
- If you are sedentary (little or no exercise) – 1.2
- If you are lightly active (light workouts 1-3 days/week) – 1.375
- If you are moderately active (workouts 3-5 days per week) – 1.55
- If you are very active (intense workouts 6-7 days per week) – 1.725
- If you are extra active (very intense workouts + active job) – 1.9
So taking the number you arrived at above, multiply it by wherever you stand. This now represents your target daily calorie intake to maintain your body weight.
If you want to lose weight, decrease this by 250-500 calories for a ½-1 pound rate of fat loss per week.
If you would like to build lean muscle mass, you need to increase this by 250-500 calories per week. Most women should error on the lower side of around 250 calories so they don’t start gaining extra body fat while they build lean muscle mass tissue.
If you’re a beginner who’s brand new to exercise, you might be able to build lean muscle mass while you lose body fat, but most women will need to focus on one goal or the other for a set period of time. Since you can’t really eat more than you burn and eat less than you burn at the same time, you can see why this clearly isn’t possible.
The important thing to keep in mind with this is that eating for muscle gain and eating for fat loss aren’t all that different. Both will require healthy, wholesome foods, timed properly throughout the day.
The only real difference is the number of calories you consume as mentioned above. Those looking to lose fat should also eat slightly more protein and fewer carbs/fats, while those who want to build muscle will need less protein overall and will be eating more carbs/fats. This is what we’ll be discussing next.
Otherwise though, all the same general rules of good nutrition still apply. Let’s look more closely now at the macronutrient side of things.
The macronutrients refer to the proteins, carbs, and dietary fats that you’re eating as part of your diet plan. It’s going to be important that you get these right as they are what will determine how much energy you have, how well you maintain your lean muscle mass, along with how hungry you are. Plus, from an overall health standpoint, each has specific roles in the body.
First let’s look at proteins. Proteins are what will support your lean muscle mass, maintaining the tissue, building new muscle cells, as well as repairing broken down cells after a hard workout session. Additionally, protein will help to keep your hunger levels lower as it takes a long time to digest and break-down in the body, and will also have very minimal influence over your blood sugar level.