There are various approaches to how you design your meal plan with several variants that need to be taken into account. This is a very basic approach to calculating your daily intake.
There are two essential aspects to an effective meal plan.
1. Precise calorie intake calculation; and
2. Managing macronutrient ratios.
Calculating your daily calorie intake:
To work out your daily calorie intake, you will need to calculate your basal metabolic rate (“BMR”) (the amount of calories your body requires to function) and also take into account any extra activity you perform throughout the day (additional calories burned).
Calculating your BMR:
Male: BMR = 66 + (13.7 x weight in kg) + (5 x height in cm) - (6.8 x age in years)
Female: 655 + (9.6 x weight in kg) + (1.8 x height in cm) - (4.7 x age in years)
Using the Harris Benedict formula, with your BMR calculated above (the calories required daily for your body to function), estimate your level of activity on a daily basis. To determine your total daily calorie needs, multiply your BMR by the appropriate activity factor, as follows:
If you are sedentary (little or no exercise): Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.2
If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week): Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.375
If you are moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week): Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.55
If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week): Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.725
If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports and physical job or 2x training): Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.9
You have now calculated your daily calorie intake to “maintain” your current weight. Depending on your goals, you will now need to create either a calorie deficit or surplus through your diet, exercise or a combination of both.
There are approximately 3500 calories in a pound of stored body fat. In theory, if you were to create a 3500 calorie weekly deficit through your diet, you will lose one pound of body weight per week. For weight loss, an initial intake reduction of 500 calories and no more than 1000 calories a day is a useful guideline. For females, Health Authorities set guidelines to have an intake no less than 1200 calories per day and for males, it is not recommended to have an intake less than 1800 calories per day.
There is a fine line between actively losing body fat through eating at a recommended calorie deficit (stimulating an effective metabolic rate), and detrimentally eating at too much of a deficit, inducing starvation mode and causes your body to store energy as fat, that would otherwise had been used as energy.
In the initial stages of weight loss, it is very common to lose a considerable amount of weight due to increasing your water intake and having your body kick itself into overdrive with the correct nutrition and timing of meals. It is also common for this weight loss rate to slow down after a few weeks when your body adjusts. As everyone is different, there is no set weight loss path. Some people simply take longer than others to lose weight. However, regardless of the weight you are losing, the fundamental aspect of embarking on a healthy lifestyle is ensuring your nutrition will prolong your life expectancy by supporting your body’s organs and functions.
The next aspect we need to look at after calculating your calorie intake is your macronutrient ratios. The ratio that works effectively for you is highly dependent on your body type. Here are some general recommendations depending on your body type:
“Ectomorph: If you're an ectomorph, you're naturally thin with skinny limbs and a high tolerance for carbohydrates. Usually, your metabolic rate is fast. A good starting macronutrient ratio for you would be something like 25% protein, 55% carbs and 20% fat.
Mesomorph: Mesomorphs are naturally muscular and athletic. They have a moderate carbohydrate tolerance and a moderate metabolic rate. Mesomorphs can usually start at a 30% protein, 40% carb, 30% fat macronutrient ratio.
Endomorph: If you're naturally broad and thick, you're probably an endomorph. Endomorphs have a low carbohydrate tolerance and a slow metabolic rate. If you're an endomorph, try a ratio of 35% protein, 25% carbs and 40% fat.”*