Mmm!To begin with, if you have read the other sections of this site, you know I am not really talking to competitive bodybuilders. I like to eat enjoyable foods, so I cannot begin to recommend a diet of nothing but skinless chicken breasts, baked potatoes, and protein powders. I do, however, believe in eating a healthy diet. Recently I was diagnosed as diabetic, so I have even more incentive than before to watch what I eat, but that should apply to everyone. Things like simple carbohydrates, sugar, and LDL or "bad" cholesterol are simply not good for you, and can/will lead to problems.


When I talk about percentages, I am referring to the percentage of CALORIES eaten, NOT THE VOLUME of a particular macro nutrient. Remember, Carbohydrates and Protein each have about 4 calories per gram, whereas Fat has about 9 calories per gram, so if you eat the same VOLUME of Fat as you do Protein, then you have ingested MORE THAN TWICE THE CALORIES!!! That being said, I recommend consuming 30-35% of your daily calories in the form of protein, 30-35% in the form of fat, and the remaining calories in the form of carbohydrates.

Take, for example, a diet consisting of 2,000 calories. Say you have 160 grams of protein, and 67 grams of fat in one day.

  • 160 x 4 = 640 / 2,000 = .32  32% of your macro nutrients that day came from protein.

  • 67 x 9 = 603 / 2,000 = .30 30% of your macro nutrients that day came from fat.

The remaining 41% would have come from carbohydrates, assuming you did not have any alcohol.


In a word YES! Your body cannot function without fat, so you should not try to eliminate it from your diet completely. What you should do, is try to get the majority of your dietary fat from unsaturated sources such as Nuts, Flax Seed, Olive Oil, Fish Oil, and so on. It is the saturated animal fats that gum up your arteries, so try to limit those.

The Good: Unsaturated Fats

Even today, some people need convincing that the term good fats is not an oxymoron. These unsaturated fats help fight the very diseases that consuming excess fat was said to cause. Unsaturated fats are divided into monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, and both types are thought to have beneficial effects on cholesterol levels.

Monounsaturated fats help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol while also boosting HDL (good) cholesterol.

Polyunsaturated fats are also thought to help lower total and bad cholesterol. But monounsaturated fats tend to be favored over polyunsaturated fats because some research suggests that polyunsaturated fats are less stable, and can reduce levels of good cholesterol as well as bad.

But let's not ignore polyunsaturated fats. These are often a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, found mostly in cold-water fish, nuts, oils and seeds, and also in dark leafy greens, flax seed oils and some vegetable oils. One kind of omega-3 fatty acid is an "essential fatty acid," which cannot be manufactured by our bodies, so eating these foods is the only way to get them. Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to lower blood pressure, combat LDL (bad) cholesterol, fight inflammation and protect the brain and nervous system.

Most cooking oils are made up primarily of unsaturated fats. When it comes to choosing cooking oils, each type of cooking oil varies in its ratio of monounsaturated to polyunsaturated fats. Two oils stand out for their high levels of monounsaturated fats: canola oil and olive oil. Other than nonstick cooking spray, these two oils should be in your pantry.

The Bad: Saturated Fats

Then there are the so-called bad fats—those apparently artery-clogging saturated fats from meat and dairy products. These fats are solid at room temperature. Saturated fats have been shown to directly raise total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Conventional advice has been to avoid them as much as possible. However, a meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in early 2010 found no link between saturated-fat intake and increased risk of coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease. Still, the Harvard School of Public Health, in a study published in March 2010, found that replacing saturated fats with an equal amount of polyunsaturated fats did indeed reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 19 percent.

Perhaps, then, saturated fats may not be so bad after all, and they are certainly an important source of vitamins and minerals. Plus, some argue that coconut oil and palm fruit oil, which are plant-based sources of saturated fats, may actually be beneficial because their particular fatty-acid make-up means they are metabolized differently in the body. Stearic acid, found in animal products and in some foods such as chocolate, gets a pass because much of it is converted by the body into oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat. Thus, saturated fats may be more beneficial, or at least more neutral, than we think. Yet although there are more and more scientific studies suggesting this is the case, there is, paradoxically, no broad consensus on this yet, especially among those designing dietary guidelines. The advisory committee for the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests a reduction of saturated-fat intake to no more than seven percent of daily intake, and little recognition that a high intake of carbohydrates, which tend to replace saturated fats in people's diets, are a factor in rising obesity rates and associated health problems.


Proteins are part of every cell, tissue, and organ in our bodies. These body proteins are constantly being broken down and replaced. The protein in the foods we eat is digested into amino acids that are later used to replace these proteins in our bodies. Protein is widely accepted as the chief nutrient required in building muscle.

Here are examples of amounts of protein in food:

  •     1 cup of milk has 8 grams of protein

  •     A 3-ounce piece of meat has about 21 grams of protein

  •     1 cup of dry beans has about 16 grams of protein

  •     An 8-ounce container of yogurt has about 11 grams of protein

Non-fat dairy products such as yogurt and fat free milk are good sources. Lean meats are an excellent source of protein as well as poultry, (skinless), and fish. If you cannot easily digest milk products, you may look into commercial, lactose free, protein powders, but these can get awfully hard on the bank account! Whey protein products (see: Supplements) still are considered the best source of supplementary protein, but you might consider soy protein as well.


The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adults in the USA is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This translates to approximately 0.36 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. For a 200 pound individual, the minimum RDA requirement is 72 grams of protein per day. For a 150 pound individual, the minimum RDA requirement is 54 grams of protein per day.

 Those involved with intense exercise, or individuals looking to add muscle mass, should consume at least twice the RDA’s recommended minimums. It is generally advised that bodybuilders eat 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. Another good guideline is to make sure that 20 to 40% of your daily calories come from protein sources.

1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.
 Bodyweight – Grams of Protein Required

     125 pounds – 125 to 188 grams of protein
     150 pounds – 150 to 225 grams of protein
     175 pounds – 175 to 263 grams of protein
     200 pounds – 200 to 300 grams of protein
     225 pounds – 225 to 338 grams of protein
     250 pounds – 250 to 375 grams of protein

20 to 40% of daily calories from protein.
 Calories – Grams of Protein Required

     1500 calories – 75 to 150 grams of protein
     2000 calories – 100 to 200 grams of protein
     2500 calories – 125 to 250 grams of protein
     3000 calories – 150 to 300 grams of protein
     3500 calories – 175 to 350 grams of protein
     4000 calories – 200 to 400 grams of protein
     5000 calories – 250 to 500 grams of protein


A carbohydrate is an organic compound with the empirical formula Cm(H2O)n (where m could be different from n); that is, consists only of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, with a hydrogen:oxygen atom ratio of 2:1 (as in water). However, there are exceptions to this. One common example would be deoxyribose, a component of DNA, which has the empirical formula C5H10O4. Carbohydrates can be viewed as hydrates of carbon, hence their name. Structurally however, it is more accurate to view them as polyhydroxy aldehydes and ketones.

Got that? Right... Let's simplify it.

Choose the best sources of carbohydrates—whole grains (the less processed, the better), vegetables, fruits and beans—since they promote good health by delivering vitamins, minerals, fiber, and a host of important phytonutrients.  Skip the easily digested refined carbohydrates from refined grains—white bread, white rice, and the like— as well as pastries, sugared sodas, and other highly processed foods, since these may contribute to weight gain, interfere with weight loss, and promote diabetes and heart disease.

This is a subject that can take volumes to go into detail about. Carbohydrate digestion centers around the speed at which your body absorbs the carbs, and the amount of insulin it releases in response. Simple carbs have a simple molecular structure which is broken apart quickly and easily in your digestive system. Complex carbs have a more complex molecular structure, and they take longer to digest. However, this is based on carbs being the only thing in your stomach. The rate of absorption slows in the presence of other macro nutrients, (protein, fat, and alcohol). Therefore, you want to eat meals that have a mix of all three macro nutrients, (not counting alcohol), so they are absorbed by your body the way nature intended.

Keep in mind, however, that simple processed sugar really has no nutritional value at all, and really only serves to sweeten things while playing havoc with your insulin response. The same thing basically goes for over-processed carbs such as white bread. Stick with whole grains, and multi-grains as much as you can.


It is fairly well established that eating smaller, more frequent meals, is more efficient and less conducive to fat storage. The best strategy is to divide your daily caloric intake into 4 - 5, or even 6 meals a day, instead of 3 large meals. This keeps a steady flow of nutrients available to your cells.


This is something that varies from person to person. A lot of factors are at play here such as age, sex and activity level. As for body weight control, first you need to know how many calories it takes to maintain your steady body weight at your present activity level. Keep track of all your calories for a week or two with a diet diary. If you do not lose or gain weight, than this is your "maintenance level".

On the scale

"New, Weight Loss Breakthrough!!"
"Weight Loss Secrets!"

No doubt you've seen headlines such as these on magazines at the checkout counter, or you've heard claims like these in ads on TV. They all promise to let you in on the latest gimmick for losing weight. Well, I hate to break it to you, but the facts are, there is only one reliable, natural, safe way to lose weight. You must burn more calories than you consume, and the calories you do consume need to be quality sources of fuel, not junk. We're also bombarded with ads for the latest workout or gadget that promises to get you "ripped". Don't misunderstand me here, your workout is of utmost importance, but without proper dietary habits, you are not going to melt the layer of fat away that is covering your muscles no matter how hard you work out.

Lose a little...

For people who have only a small to moderate amount of weight to lose, say 5 - 10 lbs. a good strategy is to burn approximately 500 more calories than you ingest in a day. This will result in about a pound of weight loss a week. The best way to create this 500 calorie a day deficit is not by exclusively cutting out 500 calories from your diet, but by a combination of diet and exercise, (eat 250 calories below your maintenance level, and burn 250 extra calories with extra activity). As you lose weight, your caloric maintenance level will probably go down, so every so often you will need to adjust the numbers accordingly.

Lose a lot...

People who have a larger amount of weight to lose, say 20 lbs. or more, need to cut calories more drastically. A strategy of losing a pound a week is not going to work for someone who needs to lose in excess of 50 lbs. That would take a year to do, and at a rate that slowly you run the risk of getting discouraged and eventually just giving up. Starting guidelines for people who need to lose a large amount of weight might be approximately 1200 - 1400 calories per day for women, and 1500 - 1700 calories per day for men. This is just a generalization, though. You really need to keep an eye on your own numbers, as all people vary.

One last thing to keep in mind concerning weight loss. Your body will tend to use whatever fuel it can when it needs it. As well as burning fat to fuel itself, it can also burn up existing muscle tissue. If all you focus on is weight loss, you may well lose muscle and end up looking somewhat emaciated. For this reason you need to be sure you accompany your weight loss program with a good weight training strategy and plenty of protein intake that will ensure you do not lose needed muscle.


If you want to gain weight, I assume you want to gain lean muscle mass, not fat. If you do want to just get fat, then eat whatever and however much you want. However, to gain lean mass, you should increase your calories by 300-500 per day, (any more, and you may just get fat). Remember, to stimulate muscle growth, your expanded daily diet must contain at least 0.75 grams of protein per pound of lean body weight. To calculate accurately you need to have a good idea of your body fat percentage. (Nowadays you can purchase scales that give you a reading on your body fat percentage, as well as hydration, bone mass density, and BMI using bio electrical impedance analysis).

For instance if you weigh 180 lbs. and you have a body fat percentage of 20%, then:

180 x .20 = 36

Your body fat amount is 36 lbs.

180 - 36 = 144

Your lean body weight is 144 lbs.

144 x .75 = 108

The minimum amount of quality protein you want to have per day under these circumstances would be 108 grams.

And of course if you want to add muscle, your increase in calories must be accompanied by intense weight training!


The only reliable way to know how much you are eating is to keep an accurate account. Don't fudge on the accuracy, you will only be fooling yourself!! (As a rough guideline, most active men seem to need around 2700 calories per day, whereas active women need around 2000 calories per day.) Keep in mind your activity level and metabolic rate dictate your caloric requirements, and they vary from person to person. Another thing worth noting is that research seems to indicate that your body gets used to a specific diet, just as it gets used to a specific workout routine, so even though you want to eat an average amount of calories daily, you may want to vary it from day to day to keep your metabolism guessing.

Here is a sample daily diet consisting of 1959 calories

Fat (grams)
Protein (grams)
Breakfast (5:30 A.M.)
1 cup whole grain oats cereal
1 cup fat-free milk
1/2 grapefruit
1/8 cup shelled walnuts
Snack (9:00 A.M.)
Protein Shake;
34 grams whey protein powder
1-3/4 cups fat free milk
1/2 banana

1/8 cup shelled almonds
Lunch (12:00 P.M.)
5 oz.can light tuna in water
8 whole grain saltine crackers
1/2 cup peanuts in shell (don't eat the shells)
Snack (3:00 P.M.)
1 Boiled Egg
1 String Cheese
Dinner (6:00 P.M.)
Chicken Stir Fry;
10 0z (before cooking) boneless, skinless chicken thigh
2 cups stir-fry veggies
4 tbsp stir-fry sauce
1/2 cup steamed brown rice

Dryer's no-sugar added frozen fruit bar



Percent of daily calories
32% 33%

In this example:
69.5 grams of fat @ 9 calories per gram = (appr.) 626 calories from fat
(32% of 1959)
162.4 grams of protein @ 4 calories per gram = (appr.) 650 calories from protein
(33% of 1959)
The remaining 684 calories would be carbohydrates, comprising the remaining 35% of daily caloric intake.


Glass of Water
(that's water)

Have a drink!This is an extremely important, and yet commonly overlooked aspect of the dietary picture. Water has so many functions in our body, that I won't even begin to list them. I would be willing to bet the vast majority of people do not drink as much water as they should. A good guideline is at least 6-8 16 oz. glasses a day. This number can go up under hot, humid, and strenuous conditions. Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink water, because then you are already starting to feel the effects of mild dehydration. Make it a point to drink water on a regular basis, regardless of thirst. Another thing, soda pop, (especially caffeinated soda), is not a replacement for water. The same goes for coffee and tea.

For more information on the importance of water


I think most people should probably take a multi-vitamin, some vitamin C, and calcium. There are a lot of other things that you can take that could be beneficial, but then again some can be harmful. Different people's bodies need different supplementation, and health issues also dictate what you should and shouldn't take.
(see: Supplements)


boobs n' beerAh, here's a sticky question! Technically, alcohol is a macro nutrient, containing 7 calories per gram, and it has been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels. Obviously, however, medical research has proven that too much alcohol is very detrimental to your health, so don't overdo it. But if you want to drink some brews while watching the Broncos , then go ahead! (see: Alcohol and Drugs)

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September 11, 2001