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Nutrition Programming, Part 2

By Nicki Cartwright | In Blog | on April 10, 2015

Narrowing down the optimal plan for your goals and YOUR body’s chemistry can be quite the challenge. There are many articles and formulas available to us on the web and books–different theories and practices to achieve similar goals. In this article, I will provide a few formulas/methods for writing up your own program.

Anyone I have ever encountered whether friend, fellow competitor or client has had to change his or her plan over time. Changing a program is not only essential to continue towards your goals, but also necessary for training and/or physique maintenance due to a number of reasons:

  1. BODY COMPOSITION: Whether you are trying to gain muscle, lose fat or maintain muscle mass gained, each composition change calls for a different arrangement and/or amount of macronutrients. For example, more protein is required to gain more muscle, less carbohydrates and sometimes healthy fats and calories to lose body fat, more carbohydrates and calories are necessary to maintain muscle gained, and lastly, less overall calories when once you have lost 5-10+ lbs. If you are on a slope upwards or downwards with muscle/fat and need to sustain, you will need to stabilize your program for maintenance.
  2. LENGTH OF TRAINING: Any experienced fitness enthusiast or athlete in strength and physique sports will tell you that the longer you are consistent with training and eating healthy, the more overall food and “cheats” your body will be able to handle without consequence. Your body’s metabolism increases with time and consistency and for most, this is also due to more dense muscle mass over time and less body fat by means of muscle gain. I am sure many of you have heard or used the phrase “muscle memory”, and this concept holds true on a few levels.
  3. AGE: No! Not that! The reality is that hormones change over time and after the age (generally) of 25 for women and 30 for men; there is a big shift in all of the body’s systems. Some could say, everything starts slowly but surely going “downhill” after those ages, and most apparent every 5 years or so. I won’t go into everything that can and will change because it is off topic. However, what once “worked” for you and a specific goal at one time probably will not always work the same. Along with natural body system changes, our lives change. People might have children, go from an active job to a sedentary one, have an increase in stress, less sleep, etc.

These three are just a few basic of many reasons you must accept that your program will need to change to keep producing results and to account for your own body’s evolution. There are many formulas floating around, so where do you start? What is the best one and for whom?

Well, my first and very most important piece of advice is:


No need to get overly complicated at first, especially if you are new to putting together a new program. Any improvement to what you are already doing will produce results.



I cannot tell you how many fails I have experienced personally by changing plans too quickly, both training and nutrition. Part of the problem is with so many articles and program templates available to us, we put a plan together, then read in some magazine that another plan is better, or Joe Shmo athlete does this plan, etc. and quickly change the program we took hours to narrow down. Another common occurrence, are all of the “experts” out there. EVERYONE is going to have an opinion and preference. With every one person praising your new program, there will be five more telling you why you should change it or better, follow their plan. Put something together, give it at least 3 weeks and take note of changes before drawing a conclusion and possibly moving onto a new protocol. This leads me to my last foundational piece of advice,


There will be several variables to control on your new plan – calories, macronutrient amounts, timing, portioning, rest, training, etc. If you have too many variables out of sync, you cannot possibly come to a reliable conclusion on what or if the plan was effective. You must treat this as a science experience to the best of your ability. Somehow you need to track yourself and hold yourself accountable, as well as jot down how you feel from day to day, if you slept enough the night before, how closely you followed your diet, etc.

All right, I have included enough background counseling, so onto the reason you are likely reading this – FORMULAS AND NUMBERS!

There are a number of ways trainers/coaches derive the data for your plan. Some people have their favorites and stick to the same system for most people. I have a few different methods I use with different clients and I might even combine a few protocols at once. What an experienced coach in the arena of nutrition programming will have above all, is intuition. It takes years to, after the numbers are laid out, drop the pencil and instinctively know if certain things in the plan need changing despite formula. YOU will get that over time with yourself and is a beautiful and powerful thing to have. Just remember, you have to start somewhere, so pick a method, give it a whirl, and then maybe try another after a few weeks. There are a hundred ways to go about something, do not fixate on having it be perfect.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to attack a nutrition program, and are named based on their starting element or priority:


Basing a program on macronutrient percentages is probably the most popular method of nutrition programming today. It is a simple starting method and numbers can be rounded up or down based on preference. What you first need is your desired calorie intake. If you already know the calories you are consuming, I suggest starting with that amount or slightly increasing or decreasing based on your goals (fat loss or muscle gain). If you are really unsure of where you are at OR if it is even a good place to start, here are some general numbers to start with:


10-12 x bodyweight in lbs. = Fat/weight loss –to- maintenance for most women

12-14 x bodyweight in lbs. = maintenance –to- muscle/weight gain for most men

14-16 x bodyweight in lbs. = maintenance –to-muscle/weight gain for most women and men with higher metabolisms and/or with leaner and more muscular compositions

Macronutrient calories per gram are:

Protein 4
Carbohydrates 4
Fats 9


Once you calculate the percentage of calories for each macronutrient, you will use division to calculate the percentages into grams per day.

Here are some possible percentage options:

40% Protein, 40% Carbs, 20% fat

*A good and widely used plan for those starting out with a program, and into muscle building and/or strength sports.

50% Protein, 35% Carbs, 15% fat

*Good for building muscle, watching or reducing body fat and if you are on a calorie reduced diet.

60% Protein, 30% Carbs, 10% fat

*Good for the last phase of a bodybuilding or lean prep, a more aggressive formula for those who are stuck with those last 5 or so stubborn pounds after 3+ months of leaning down.

Here is a sample program:

Goal = 150 lb. female, maintain muscle mass but lose body fat, weight training 5-6 days per week, cardio 3-4 days per week.

Percentage plan = 50% Protein – 35% Carbs – 15% Fats

Calories = 1500 (150 x 10)

1500 x 0.5 = 750 calories from Protein

750/4 = 187.5 g protein Carbs:

1500 x 0.35 = 525 calories from Carbs 525/4 = 131.25 g carbs

1500 x 0.15 = 225 calories from Fats 225/9 = 25 g fats

Totals after rounding numbers…

Calories 1500
Protein 188 grams per day
Carbohydrates 131 grams per day
Fats 25 grams per day



Another way to go about your program is to divide your carbohydrate and fat calories around your protein intake. Sometimes, people do not know how much carbs and fats to consume but have an idea of the amount of protein they wish to intake. In this case, you calculate your desired protein intake first, then the remaining calories are distributed evenly between carbohydrates and fats. A lot of literature has suggested protein intake for those in a weight training program (whether their goal is to lose fat or gain muscle) should consume between 1-2 grams of protein per pound of body weight. I agree with this.

As with the percentage program, you will need to have an idea of your desired calorie intake first (you can use the calorie estimating formulas given in the above program). Once you calculate the amount of protein in grams you want, use the calorie/gram conversion to calculate your calories from protein. Then, subtract this number from your total calories to get your total remaining calories. Divide this number by 2, and you have the calories allotted for carbs and fats distributed 50-50. Lastly, use the calorie/gram conversions to derive your total grams of carbs and fats for the day. This method is a great and easy way to also progress into a carb cycle program (I will go into greater detail later on in this article).

Here is a sample program

Goal = 220 lb. male, gain muscle and overall body weight, maintain body fat, weight training 5-6 days per week, no cardio.

Calories = 3000 (220 x 14, rounded down)

Protein = 220 x 1.5 = 330 grams Protein

330 x 4 (calories/gram of protein) = 1320 calories

3000 total calories – 1320 calories from protein = 1680 remaining calories

1680 remaining calories / 2 = 840 calories from Carbs, 840 calories from Fats

Carbs =
840/4 = 210 grams Carbs

Fats =
840/9 = 93.3 grams Fats

Totals after rounding numbers …

Calories 3000
Protein 330 grams per day
Carbs 210 grams per day
Fats 93 grams per day



This is probably my favorite method for programming nutrition, because I feel it is the most accurate to one’s body size. It might be too specific for some, as there is a greater range of numbers you will work with, and it can be confusing as to where in the range to work with.

This method derives protein, carbs and fats from certain numbers multiplied by your body weight, as with the protein method. I feel that once you figure out where in the range you fall, there is less math.

Here are the ranges of macronutrients:

Protein = 1.0-2.0 grams per body weight

*Lower range: if you are new to weight training, training only 3 days per week and/or new to consuming a higher protein diet.

*Higher range: if you are wishing to gain a lot of muscle, weight training heavily 5-6 days a week and/or on a calorie restricted diet.

Carbohydrates = 0.35-1.0 grams per body weight

*Lower range: if you are at the end of a leaning/bodybuilding prep, for the last 4-6 weeks at most, and/or if you have a higher fat and protein intake.

*Higher range: if you are aiming to gain muscle and/or overall body weight

Fats = 0.15-0.4 grams per body weight

*Lower range: if you are at the end of a leaning/bodybuilding prep, or have a higher carbohydrate intake.

*Higher range: if you are aiming to gain overall weight or if your calories and carbs are low.

Once you decide where in each range you decide you fit, you can calculate your grams for each macronutrient. Once you do this, I suggest referencing the grams-to-calorie conversion and figuring out how many calories your plan comes out to. You might find that your calories are too low or too high (more than likely, too low), and will need to go back and adjust your macronutrients.

Here is a sample…

Goal: 160 lb. female with desk job gain muscle, lower body fat and overall body weight; weight training 4-5 days per week, cardio 5 days per week.


1.25 x bodyweight = 200 grams protein per day

I chose 1.25 because she wants to lose body fat but also wishes to gain muscle in the process. I do not want to go more than 200 grams per day due to her work schedule, and she cannot stomach more than that amount per day at this point.

0.5 x bodyweight = 80 grams carbs per day

I chose 0.5 because she currently eats too low of carbs (50-60 grams) and while this might be low for some; it is an increase for this woman. I want to slowly introduce more carbohydrates to give her body a chance to learn to metabolize it without storing. The goal is for her metabolism to increase over time and therefore, be able to increase carbs to about 100 grams or so in a month or two.


0.25 x bodyweight = 40 grams fats per day

I chose 0.25 because it is still on the low range, but not too aggressively low and will be enough for this woman to be satiated and get in the healthy fats her body needs for healthy balance and functioning. She currently was eating very high fat amounts (50-60 grams) so this is a conservative decrease.

By converting these grams to calories, the total amount comes to about 1500, which gives her body a calorie deficit to promote fat loss, while not being so drastically low compared to her current calorie intake of 1800.

Now that I have outlined a few options for putting together your nutrition program, I will lightly go into the infamous


The idea of carb cycling is to manipulate your carb intake from day to day to better promote fat loss and/or muscle gain without plateauing as easily as one might by ingesting the same amount of macronutrients day after day. Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy, but an overabundance also leads to fat storage. Additionally, low carbohydrates will lead to fat loss, but too low for too long will lead to ketosis, lowered performance and overall functioning, instances of overtraining, lowered metabolism and of course, a plateau in your body composition goals.

In the case of carb cycling, carbohydrates and fats have an inverse relationship, so when your carbs are lowered, your healthy fats should be increased so that A.) You keep your calories up, and b.) You force your body to use fat for energy. Your protein intake should be at a constant from day to day, as protein has very little to do with energy but rather, for rebuilding and promoting muscle growth. I suggest planning your low and higher carb days around the training you intend to do for that day. For example, cardiovascular training (at low to moderate intensities) use more fat as an energy source than carbohydrates. So, if you have a day where you are doing lightweight training and/or cardio only, have your low days fall on these days.

Furthermore, weight/power training uses primarily carbohydrates for energy, so arrange your higher carb days on your most important and/or heaviest weight training days.
If you thought the other three protocols were a lot of work, there are tons of ways to go about carb cycling out there! I suggest you reference the second method I listed, “Protein”, and simply alter the ratios of the remaining carbohydrate and fat calories to fit the low, high and moderate (if you wish) days.

Here are some options…

Low Day:
40-60 calorie division of carbs and fats

Moderate Day:
50-50 calories division of carbs and fats (this is your standard program)

High Day:
60-40 calorie division of carbs and fats

Again, the protein and calories should remain the same every day, it is just the carbohydrates and fats that are changing. There are many ways to cycle the days, here are a few:

Sunday Low Low Low Low
Monday Moderate Moderate Low Low
Tuesday High High Low Moderate
Wednesday Low Low High High
Thursday Moderate Moderate Low Moderate
Friday High Low Low Low
Saturday Moderate High High Moderate


Well, I think I provided enough numbers to make your head spin! Again, there are so many ways you can put together a plan, and I do not want you to become obsessed with finding the right one, right now. Over time and with delicate observation, you will learn what does and does not work for you based on your results and how you FEEL in terms of energy, stamina and mood. I only provided a few ways I come up with a plan for a client, but there are other more technical ways also. Another thing to note, the numbers and formulas I provided in this article are geared at individuals involved in some kind of weight training program, from low to high frequency. For endurance athletes such as marathon runners and triathletes, these numbers need to be greatly altered.

Do not forget, any improvement to your current plan will produce results. Take the time to learn your body and gain control of your program, but also be okay asking for help from a professional when need be.

I hope this article was helpful in your nutrition endeavors! igrovye-online-avtomaty.com/lucky-ladys-charm-mobile/

Nicki Crapotta