Whether the goal is weight loss, maintenance or putting on lean muscle, calories are king. End of story. Calories are units of heat used to indicate the amount of energy that foods will produce in the human body. The amount of calories your body needs to burn to get you through the day is known as your ‘Maintenance Calories’. If you eat this amount every day, you will stay the exact same weight day in day.

What Are Your Maintenance Calories?

When we have found our maintenance calories which let’s hypothetically suggest is 2000, then we need to create a diet plan in order to achieve our goals. If we want to lose body fat, we need to be in a ‘Caloric Deficit’. If we want to put on lean muscle mass, we need to be in a ‘Caloric Surplus’. Simply put, we need to eat less calories than we burn in a day to loose body fat, and we need to eat more calories that we burn in order to put on weight and muscle mass. However, this does not mean eat as little as you can and eat as much as you can respectively.

Minimise Fat Gain

In the case of a caloric deficit, I advise in taking in 250-300 calories less than our maintenance. This is because any more than that and we will be dropping weight too quickly and unhealthily. In addition, this makes a diet much more sustainable and not just a quick fix. In terms of a caloric surplus, I advise taking in 250-300 calories more than our maintenance. It is physically impossible to naturally go up in weight and it be 100% muscle. Some of it must be fat. However, this method allows us to minimise the amount of fat gained. Furthermore, by utilizing this method we stay away from the ‘Dirty Bulk’ where you just eat as much as possible, see the scales go up every day and think ‘it’s all muscle’! Well if it were like that everyone would be the size of Arnold Schwarzenegger! You can only physically put on a certain amount of muscle mass daily, weekly and monthly. To do this your body needs extra calories in a day than you burn, but to minimise fat gain, these calories need to be only slightly over our maintenance (250-300).

Diet Is Everything

I’ve heard a few times that diet is responsible for 70% of burning fat and training is the other 30%. I disagree. I would put diet at 99.9%. The ONLY way one can loose body fat is being in a Caloric deficit. If someone is eating chicken breasts, broccoli, egg whites all day and training 6 times a week, 2 times a day, but still eating over there maintenance calories, they WILL NOT LOOSE BODY FAT! It’s scientifically impossible!

Therefore, with all that said, sort out the diet first and the rest becomes a lot easier. Don’t kill yourself eating boring, flavourless foods. It’s unsustainable and boring! Eat within your caloric requirements and eat what makes you feel good! Remember – It’s not about what you eat, its about how much you eat!

Have a look at my optimal guide to nutrition, 6-week nutrition programme and 4-week online nutrition coaching for more detail!