You want to build lean muscle. You want to lose that stubborn fat. You’ve heard the saying that “great bodies are made in the kitchen”, but the only problem is, you have no idea where to start.
Every fitness expert out there is feeding you (no pun intended) conflicting advice on what the absolute “best diet” is to reach your goals effectively, and at the end of the day you’re just left even more confused than when you started.
What IS the best dieting approach to transform your body as efficiently as possible?
Should you eat higher protein and lower carb? Moderate protein and higher carb? High protein, high fat and zero carb?
Should you follow an intermittent fasting diet? Paleo diet? Ketogenic diet? Vegetarian diet?
Should you eat 7 small meals a day, 4 moderate sized meals, or 2 large meals?
What are the best “muscle building and fat burning foods” to eat, and which ones should you avoid?
The questions go on and on and can quickly become overwhelming, but today, I’m going to give you the definitive answer once and for all so that you can finally stop over-analyzing and start getting into great shape right away…
This is going to be a slightly different take on the subject than what you might be used to.
See, when most people go about trying to structure the “best diet” for themselves, they tend to think ONLY in terms of bottom line effectiveness.
In other words, they simply look for the one particular nutrition plan that they believe will burn fat and build muscle as quickly as possible, and then dive in headfirst without really giving it much thought.
But in doing so, the critical factor of adherence tends to get overlooked.
A particular meal plan might be effective when it comes to overall fat loss or muscle gain, but are you actually going to be able to stick to it long enough in order to achieve your desired physique, and then maintain it over the long term?
We already know from the statistics (and from basic every day observation), that the majority of people who begin a muscle building or fat loss diet will NOT stay consistent with it over the long term.
Among many reasons for this is the simple fact that the diet itself just isn’t sustainable.
It might involve too large a calorie deficit or surplus… it might be overly restrictive in terms of food choices… it might be based around a bunch of different “rules” that just aren’t practical for your lifestyle… or it might simply revolve around certain eating guidelines that you really don’t enjoy following.
For example, some people experience their best results by eating 6 small meals spread all throughout the day. Others prefer an intermittent fasting style approach where all of their daily calories are pushed into a smaller 8 hour feeding window. Some (like myself) would rather go somewhere in the middle.
That’s all a matter of personal preference, and since meal frequency is essentially a non-issue when it comes to bottom line muscle growth and fat loss as long as you’re getting in at least 2 (ideally 3) separate feedings for the day, all of these approaches will work just fine.
If you try to force yourself into a particular diet that deep down you really dislike, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to maintain it over the long haul. You might stick with it for a few weeks or even a few months, but eventually you’re going to burn out and quit.
So, what is the best diet plan for building muscle and losing fat effectively?
The simple answer is this…
It’s whatever diet allows you to consistently meet your overall calorie and macronutrient needs for the day as a whole, and maintain it consistently over the long term.
Regardless of what anyone tries to tell you, from a nutritional perspective, building muscle and losing fat is mainly just a numbers game based on consuming the proper amount of calories, protein, carbohydrates and fats in the big picture based on your goal.
As long as you’re consuming around 80-90% of your total calories from nutrient-dense, minimally processed whole foods (the other 10-20% can be allotted to whatever “cheat foods” you’d like – I’ll be covering this concept in the next lesson), this is really what proper nutrition mostly comes down to.
While the smaller “nitty gritty” details such as meal frequency, food timing, pre and post workout nutrition, calorie cycling etc. may have some minor application for advanced lifters in the later stages of training who are trying to squeeze out every ounce of progress possible, the average beginner or intermediate is not going to see any measurable difference to their results by worrying about these smaller factors.
In most cases, all it will do is unnecessarily over-complicate your diet, cause you to gradually resent the process, and eventually give up.
A much better and more effective long term approach is to simply know your daily nutritional targets in terms of calories and macronutrients, and then lay out your daily meals in whatever way is most convenient, enjoyable and sustainable for you.
(You can check out my Free Macronutrient Calculator to determine a good starting point for yourself based on your individual stats and primary fitness goal)
As long as your diet plan allows you to hit those calories/macros for the day as a whole and it’s sustainable for you in the long term, you literally can’t fail and your success is guaranteed as long as you have a proper workout plan to go along with it.
The key to effective nutrition is consistency.
It’s about structuring your daily meal plan in a way that is as simple and streamlined as possible, so that you can go about your day with minimal to no guesswork involved and know that you’re on the right track towards your goals.
Once you know what your daily nutritional needs are to support your goals, go ahead and “stack the odds” in your favor.
There are all kinds of different factors involved that you can tailor to your own individual preferences and lifestyle, for example…
* If you prefer bigger meals less frequently or smaller meals more frequently, choose the approach that works best for you.
* If you like allocating a higher percentage of your calories toward the earlier hours of the day versus the later hours, or vice versa, go for it.
* If there are certain foods you prefer over others, lay out your diet so that it consists primarily of those items. No single food is mandatory, so just choose those in each category (protein, carbs and fats) that you like best, whether it be chicken vs. red meat, rice vs. potatoes, bananas vs. apples, yogurt vs. cottage cheese, oatmeal vs. bread etc.
* If a certain food is a particular “weakness” for you and something that you crave, allocate a certain percentage of your daily calories towards it so that you don’t feel overly restricted or deprived. No, a bit of chocolate, cookies or ice cream is not going to hamper your results as long as you track it as part of your intake.
* If there are certain types of meals that you prefer to eat before or after training based on your appetite and on what maximizes your personal performance during your workout sessions, go for it.
These are just a few of the many factors you can take into account when laying out your own personal diet, and it really won’t make any measurable difference to your results regardless of how you configure them as long as the calories/macros are on point for the day as a whole.
If you simply take the time and effort to structure your plan using this “sustainability” mindset (rather than just jumping head-first into some random diet based around a bunch of rules that may or may not fit your lifestyle or preferences), your chances for long term muscle building and fat burning success will be exponentially higher.
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