Strength Performance Network

Nutrition: Setting Realistic Goals by Cameron Forbes

My name is Cameron Forbes and I am currently in my last semester of graduate school at Meredith College seeking a Master degree in Nutrition. My passion for nutrition started in high school when I was looking for an edge on the competition in athletics. I took this passion with me to NC State University where I graduated with a B.S in Applied Nutrition. While at NC State I worked as a student athletic trainer and a sports nutrition intern my entire undergraduate career. I have been a strength and conditioning coach for over a year, but have been training since high school.  Being in an athletic setting my entire life, I have seen the impact proper nutrition can have on an individual’s training. Within the next year I hope to obtain two major certifications/licensers. The first will be a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and the second will be a Registered Dietitian/Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.
1.Weight loss = Calories in < Calories out
2.The best diet is one you can follow consistently
3.Use an online RMR calculator to find your estimated caloric total for a maintenance weight, then subtract 250-1000 calories for 0.5lb-2.0lbs of weight loss per week
4.These are ESTIMATIONS. You may need to tweak these numbers to find your true maintenance calorie goal.
5.To promote maximum lean muscle gain, .7-1.0g of protein per pound of body weight is recommended.
Let me start by saying that nutrition goals can be as simple as expending more calories than you take in. If your goal is to simply lose weight there is no need to overcomplicate things.

Calories in (eating) < Calories out (exercise/daily activities) = Weight loss
On the opposite end of the spectrum, nutrition goals can be as specific as hitting daily target macronutrients (Carbohydrates/Protein/Fat). An example of this would be eating 300g carbohydrate/200g protein/80g fat. This goal equates to a daily caloric intake of roughly 2,720 calories. If you are wondering how I got this caloric estimate; carbohydrates and protein account for 4 calories per gram, while fat accounts for 9 calories per gram. This dietary method requires tracking of your daily food intake and accurately estimating portion sizes. Most people aren’t extremely accurate when it comes to eyeballing portion sizes, so a weight scale is usually recommended to measure foods in grams or ounces.
Why would someone be crazy enough to weigh every gram or ounce of food they eat? If they’re a competitive athlete they may be looking for an edge on the competition. By portioning out the proper macronutrient amounts before, during, and after training or competition days, an athlete can maximize their potential each and every session. You could just be completely crazy like myself and track everything you eat because you enjoy seeing trends in your caloric/macronutrient consumption and your body weight/composition. This method works for me because I enjoy it and I see the best results. In other words, this diet is SUSTAINABLE and something I can adhere to on a consistent basis.
I firmly believe the best diet is one you can follow consistently
There are no magical diets. If you enjoy the Paleo diet and can follow that for long periods of time, DO IT. If you like a ketogenic diet because your love for fats and protein outweigh your love for carbohydrate, DO IT. The common theme here is your dietary goals should be realistic and attainable. Consistency is the key when it comes to weight loss. You should be aiming for NO MORE than 1-2lbs of weight loss per week. Obviously this will fluctuate from person to person, but these are all general guidelines. This slow weight loss will allow you to keep your calories relatively high (in regards to your own body weight/metabolism) and will avoid the feeling of being on a “diet.” Slow weight loss will promote sustained weight loss, meaning the weight will come off and stay off.
How Do I Know How Many Calories I Should be Eating?
            The first thing to do is estimate how many calories you burn in a given day based on your age, height, weight and activity factor. By using the Mifflin St. Jeor equation you can get an estimate of your resting metabolic rate or RMR (the minimum amount of calories you burn by just being alive). For the sake of avoiding confusing, here is a link to calculate your RMR ( To get an accurate estimate of calories you burn during a given day, your daily activities must be taken into account. This is known as your activity factor. Below is a description of different activity factors, which you can choose to accurately describe your day to day activity. Remember, these numbers are estimations and not 100% accurate. However, they do give you a great starting point from which you can make adjustments later.
Mifflin St. Jeor Equation: 
10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) + 5
10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) – 161
Activity Factors:
1.2 = Sedentary. Little to no regular exercise
1.375 = Mild activity level: Intensive exercise for at least 20 minutes 1 to 3 times per week. This may include such things as bicycling, jogging, basketball, swimming, skating, etc.  If you do not exercise regularly, but you maintain a busy life style that requires you to walk frequently for long periods, you meet the requirements of this level. 
1.6 = Moderate activity level: Intensive exercise for at least 30 to 60 minutes 3 to 4 times per week. Any of the activities listed above will qualify.   
1.7 = Heavy or (Labor-intensive) activity level: Intensive exercise for 60 minutes or greater 5 to 7 days per week (see sample activities above).  Labor-intensive occupations also qualify for this level.  Labor-intensive occupations include construction work (brick laying, carpentry, general labor, etc.). Also farming, landscape worker or similar occupations.    
1.9 = Extreme level: Exceedingly active and/or very demanding activities:  Examples include:  (1) athlete with an almost unstoppable training schedule with multiple training sessions throughout the day  (2) very demanding job, such as shoveling coal or working long hours on an assembly line. Generally, this level of activity is very difficult to achieve. 
            Once you have calculated your estimated daily caloric requirement, this number will represent the number of calories you need a day to maintain your current weight. You will need to subtract 250 calories from this and that will give you an expected 0.5lb per week loss. I will show a table below that can help explain this in further detail in respect to both weight gain and weight loss.
3000 calories/day
DAILY CALORIES                                  EXPECTED WEIGHT LOSS/GAIN
4000                                                   +2.0lbs per week
3750                                                    +1.5lbs per week
3500                                                   +1.0lbs per week
3250                                                    +0.5lbs per week
2750                                                    -0.5lbs per week
2500                                                   -1.0lbs per week
2250                                                   -1.5lbs per week
2000                                                  -2.0lbs per week

 Maximizes Muscle Gain
            If your goal is to gain lean muscle mass there are a two things you must do. The first may seem simple, but many people do not do this with the consistency they need to see results. It is LIFT WEIGHTS. Go in the gym, pick up heavy stuff, put it down. Obviously having a plan of attack is recommended, but you must induce a stress on your muscles to stimulate muscle growth. The second factor in increasing lean muscle mass is protein intake. Many individuals fall short of the daily protein intake needed to maximize muscle hypertrophy.
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein set by the U.S Government is .8g/kg of body weight. This means a 220lb person would need 80g of protein according to the RDAs. However, research has shown that to maximize muscle hypertrophy you should be ingesting 1.2-2.0g/kg of body weight. This means that same 220lb person would need to have a protein intake of 120g-200g to maximize their potential lean muscle gain. Other researchers have even suggested ingesting up to 2.2g/kg of body weight (equivalent to 1g/pound). These are also general guidelines. If you want specific dietary advice geared directly toward your goals and needs, seek out a professional.
I want to thank The Strength Feed for giving me the opportunity and platform to express my opinion to his followers. If you want to achieve your fitness goals and have fun doing it, hit this man up! If you enjoyed this content, found anything I covered useful, or would like for me to cover specific nutrition topics, please reach out to The Strength Feed and let him know.

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