There are many different styles of meal plans available which vary upon your goals.
Realistically there are three main goals which you can choose
- Weight Loss (Fat loss diet)
- Mass Gain (Focus on higher calories for larger muscular gain, but will more likely gain fat at the same time)
- Body Composition Change (Lean Muscle gain whilst attempting to lose body fat)
To summarise these you have to take into consideration what changes you want to make to you body. Option 1 and 2 will get you faster results than option 3 as losing fat whilst gaining muscle is contradictory in existence but can take place. The reason for this is to gain muscle you need to consume more calories whilst on the other hand to lose fat you need to eat less calories than your body needs.
However for option 3 whilst incorporating resistance style training it can be possible to accomplish your target, but it could be possible to reach your end goal faster by utilising option 2 then option 1. This is known as bulking and then cutting. Or in most recent days ‘bulking’ is also called the improvement season. By increasing your calories and using a good training program (see daily exercise tab for help) you can improve and grow some of your muscles.
Unless enhanced (taking Performance Enhancing Drugs, PEDs) or within your first year of training your lean muscle tissue gain will eventually become slower. For example intermediate to advanced lifters over the course of a year can expect to gain anywhere from 1-5 pounds, whereas the former could possibly gain anywhere from 5 upwards. As a caveat this is all dependant on how hard you take your training and recovery and not just if you are consuming all types of supplements (over and under the counter).
Other aspects to take into consideration for your choice is your bod fat percentage. It is easier for your body to partition nutrients if you have a lower body fat percentage. For men, if above 15 percent body fat they should choose either option 1 or 3. If below 15 percent body fat then they can choose option 2. With a higher body fat percentage, it is easier for the body to become insulin resistant (i.e. consumed carbohydrates are more likely to be stored as energy, thereby become fat), this is something that we do not wish to occur so readily. For women, due to not wanting to negatively affect periods, it is more beneficial to maintain a higher body fat percentage and so from around 15 percent body fat, option 1,2 and 3 can be chosen. The reason for this is if women consume calories too low, without adequate enough fat and have a very low body fat percentage it is common for their menstrual periods to alter and be effected.
Other aspects which you may not have considered are time frames. Ideally to lose body fat, you should expect a net loss of 1-2 pounds a week (around a 0.5kg-kg), that is if you are consistent with your diet. So if you want to lose those ten pounds that you gained after your Christmas binge or get lean for summer you need to bear in mind that you need to allow yourself at least one to two months. In addition weight loss does not follow a linear pattern (i.e. sometimes your weight loss may stall (or plateau) and others it may rapidly change over the course of a few days). But by following a regimented diet you a more likely to achieve your goal. Let’s also bear in mind that the extra slice of cheesecake or glass of wine that ‘won’t hurt’ will hurt. To lose 1-2 pounds a week you need to eat 3-500 calories less than you need. That extra glass of wine may cost you around 200 of those calories. Of course from experience, when you don’t get the weight loss you wanted at the end of the week your more likely to get disappointed and finish off the rest of that bottle of wine and remaining cheesecake. Thereby yo-yo dieting and never actually losing weight at all. You will then become discouraged and will stop exercising, this is something we must avoid at all costs. For my previous competition in Korea, once a week I would treat myself to a starter, main course and desert of my choice. When I stopped doing this my weight dropped very quickly.
So….. when you make your decision choose
A. I want results
B. I want results but may cheat on my diet
The people who choose option B may spend up to a month more on their diet to get to their goal, whereas option A will see results in a far shorter time frame. You need to pick, I want it whatever it costs or ‘I kind of want it’. Don’t be the latter, they will always be ‘kind of wanting it’ – (these are most commonly the people who claim everyone to be taking PEDs and other drugs due to not getting the results they want!