How to Calculate the Right Diet for Your Body Composition

No diet is ideal for everyone; in fact, if you want the best muscle building results, you’ll need to figure out the correct diet for your body composition.

So how do you do that exactly?

Today, we outline an easy 3-step process you can use to calculate the perfect diet for your body’s unique physiological makeup and energy expenditure levels:

Step 1: What is Your Body Composition?

First, you'll need to determine what your body composition even is before you can figure out the ideal diet for your muscle-building goals.

Your body composition, in a nutshell, is how much of your body weight is made up of lean muscle compared to fat. Once you figure out how much lean body mass you have, you’ll be able to better understand your daily calorie requirements.

To figure out your body composition, use an online body fat calculator. This will compare your circumference measurements to estimate your body fat percentage. Alternatively, you can head to a gym or fitness center and have a coach who’s trained to use a skin caliper determine your body fat percentage that way.

Either way, whatever measurement method you use now should also be used again in the future as your body mass changes. This will ensure that you maintain a consistent understanding of your body composition, with no variations that may occur if you use a different measurement method next time.

Step 2: Figure Out How Many Calories You Need a Day

Next, you’ll need to determine your “daily calorie expenditure range”, which is basically how many calories your body burns on average each day. This basic understanding of your BMR (or Basal Metabolic Rate) helps you decide how many calories to consume to stay energized and stack on lean muscle.

First, use this formula to establish your unique BMR (consider this baseline the number of calories your body would use to do absolutely nothing except laze around the house): 

21.6 x Your Lean Muscle Mass (in kilograms)
Your Basal Metabolic Rate (calories needed per day) 

Here’s an example of the formula in action... 

Say that your lean body mass is 180 pounds. (You’ll need to convert pounds to kilos for the formula to work… So 180 lbs equates to 80 kg). In that case, the formula would be: 

21.6 x 80kg

= 2,098 Calories needed per day (at rest)

Remember, this BMR just reflects the bare minimum calories you’d be burning at rest, simply to stay alive. To get an accurate calorie count that will keep up with your activity level, you’ll need to change up the formula and increase the numbers. Here’s how to do that:

  • Getting Very Little Exercise:  Multiply your BMR result 1.2x

  • Engaging in Easy Exercise, 1- 3 times/week:  Multiply your BMR result 1.4x

  • Regular Workouts with Moderate Intensity:  Multiply your BMR result 1.5x

  • Smashing It, 6-7 days/week:  Multiply your BMR result 1.7x

Since you want to stack on muscle, logically you’ll need to add more calories. Simply take the number of calories you get from your BMR formula above, then add between 250 and 500 extra calories. That will give your body enough fuel to build muscle!

Step 3. Determine the Energy System Your Body Uses Most

Lastly, you’ll need to figure out your bioenergetics, or the type of energy system your body uses most; depending on your physical activity type.

Which one of these most defines your exercise style?

“IMMEDIATE ENERGY" Phosphagen System

This is mainly switched on in your body for HIIT training, running, short sprints, or for crushing super athletic and heavyweight workouts.

“ENDURANCE ENERGY" Anaerobic Glycolysis System:

Your body utilizes this sustained energy system for field sports like soccer and hockey, or stop-and-go activities like basketball. 

“KEEP IT STEADY” Oxidative System:

This low-and-slow energy release system gets activated for rucking, marathon running, steep mountain hikes and skiing, delivering lower-intensity energy bursts over a longer duration.

By understanding the bioenergetics your body uses, you’ll understand how many carbohydrates and fats you’re supposed to add to your diet.

Generally, the more “immediate energy” is required for your activity level, the more carbs you’ll need for fast, accessible energy bursts.

On the flipside, if you need more long and steady endurance, you can lean more on good fats instead of carbs to get your energy delivery.

Whatever your workout discipline, be sure to get enough calories to fuel your push, so you can keep gaining muscle instead of burning it just to stay moving.  

There you have it: a three-step process to help you calculate the ideal diet for your body composition.

Follow this outline when formulating the perfect diet for your unique body, and make sure your meal plan includes a good balance of protein, carbs, and vegetables. Eat right for your body type and activity level, and you’ll gain muscle mass in no time!

Thanks for reading,  

Justin | MME Workout Contributor


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