Making your own meal plan (Step by Step)
Calculating Calories and Macro's
Please note - the following should be taken as general advice only and should not be used in the face of medical contraindications. Please consult your physician before starting any diet or nutrition plan.
1/ BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate): The amount of calories you need to consume to maintain your body if you were comatose (base level).
2/ NEAT (Non-Exercise Associated Thermogenesis): The calorie of daily activity that is NOT exercise (eg: washing, walking, talking, shopping, working). ie: INCIDENTAL EXERCISE! It is something that everyone has a good amount of control over.
3/ EAT (Exercise Associated Thermogenesis): The calorie requirements associated with planned exercise. Unless someone is doing a whole heap of exercise (eg: two or more hrs training a day) it usually doesn't add a stack of calories to your requirements (30 minutes of 'elliptical training isn't going to do it')
4/ TEF (Thermic effect of feeding): The calorie expenditure associated with eating. REGARDLESS of what myths you have been told - this is NOT dependent on MEAL FREQUENCY. It is a % of TOTAL CALORIES CONSUMED (and 15% of 3 x 600 cal meals is the same as 15% of 6 x 300 cal meals). It varies according to MACRONUTRIENT content and FIBER content. For most mixed diets, it is something around 15%. Protein is higher (up to 25%), carbs are variable (between 5-25%), and fats are low (usually less than 5%). So -> More protein and more carbs and more fiber = HIGHER TEF. More FAT = LOWER TEF.
5/ TEE (Total Energy Expenditure): The total calories you require - and the sum of the above (BMR + NEAT + EAT + TEF).
How much do you need?
A multitude of things impact MAINTENANCE calorie needs.
- Age & sex (males generally need > females)
- Total weight & lean mass (more lean mass = more needed)
- Physiological status (eg: sick or injured, pregnant, growth')
- Exercise level (more activity = more needed)
- Daily activity level (more activity = more needed)
- Diet (that is - macronutrient intake)
In order to calculate your requirements the most accurate measure is via Calorimetry [the measure of 'chemical reactions' in your body & the heat produced by these reactions], either directly (via placing a calorimeter where the heat you produce is measured) or indirectly (eg: HOOD studies where they monitor how much oxygen you use/ carbon dioxide and nitrogen you excrete over a given time). But although accurate they are completely impractical for most people & we mostly rely on pre-set formula to calculate our needs.
NOTE: IF YOU ARE LESS THAN 18 YRS OF AGE - THESE FORMULA WILL NOT BE ACCURATE!There is an energy cost associated with growth / inefficient movement / high surface area:mass ratio. Look HERE for alternatives.
As a teenager I would also STRONGLY suggest you don't obsess on calories and macros! Eat well, exercise regularly, and have fun while you can!
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Psalm 91:1-2