Nutrition For Beginners - Part I

First of a 2 part series designed to help beginners who are learning how to build muscle. Learn how to work out and how many calories you need.

Ok. So now you So by now we can work out our BMR (Basal metabolic rate) plus the calories that we use up in our physical activity, then we add 10% for the TEF (thermic effect of food) So our calculation goes like this BMR + calories used in activity = ? + 10% = Total calories required in the day.

Once we have this calculation then we can split this up into food, the basic percentages of protein, carbohydrates and fats (PCF ratio) are for weight and strength training 30% protein, 50% carbohydrates and 20% fats. People who do other training than strength training do not need as much protein in the day and their percentage of protein per day is 15% (food groups and nutrition info are contained in the muscle and strength article mentioned above)

So we have our total calories required and now we know what percentages of each food group that we need.

Example: Total calories required 2600 calories per day:

  • 30% of 2600 = 780 calories for Protein
  • 50% of 2600 = 1300 calories from Carbohydrates
  • 20% of 2600 = 520 calories from total Fat

Protein foods contain 4 calories per gram, carbohydrate foods contain 4 calories per gram, and fat in food contains 9 calories per gram.

To calculate calories of food required into the amount of food (in grams) we need:

  • 780 calories from protein, divide by 4 = 195 grams of protein per day
  • 1300 calories from carbohydrates, divide by 4 = 325 grams of Carbohydrates per day
  • 520 calories from fat, divide by 9 = 58 grams of total fat per day

So now we know that we need 195g protein, 325g carbohydrates, 58g total fat.


We need to split this now into meals and the best way to eat is to eat frequently because the body works continuously and should be fueled as needs arise. Nutrients can be used more efficiently if a moderate amount of food is ingested on a frequent basis. If we only eat three meals a day and if you have a look at the food we need above per day then we would have to eat very large meals to get the required amount of calories needed in the day, but if the meal is too big then there is more chance that some of the food may be stored as fat due to the large rise in blood sugar and the body then will release the enzyme insulin to try to lower blood sugar back to a near normal range, Any sugars not used up in training, the insulin will push the sugar out of the blood and push it somewhere…..well guess what - right into your fat storage area, the fat cells mostly in the stomach area. So we are better to eat smaller frequent meals, so we need to aim for 6 feedings per day. Try not to go longer than 3 hours without food. We can split the meals anyway that we want but for weight training and building mass, try and get each one as near as you can to the same calorie content in each.

We can now calculate the required amount of food per meal (amounts rounded off)

Protein required = 195g divided by 6 meals = 33g protein per meal
Carbs required = 325g divided by 6 meals = 54g carbs per meal
Fat required 58g divided by 6 meals = 10g per meal

From the article that is mentioned above you will see which food contain what type of food (protein, carbs, fat) and what are the best choices, but basically:

Lean meats, Poultry, Fish, Beans, Eggs, Nuts. Protein drinks, Soya

Rice, Pasta, Breads, Potatoes, Cereals, Fruits, Veg, Carb powders.

Fat already in foods, or added with: Virgin olive oil, Fish oils, Flaxseed oil/seeds, Sesame oil/seeds, Nuts and nut oils, or blended oils like UDO’s Ultimate blend.

You can buy a book which details all the foods and the ratio’s of what nutrients are in which food, write a list of foods that you like and once you have written it down you can refer to the list and just by looking at a meal you can tell what is in it or work it the other way around and decide what you need in each meal.

Example of part of a completed list of foods.

Food (Per 100g) Calories Protein (g) Carbs (g) Fat (g) Dietry Fibre (g)
Chicken (meat only) 148 24.6 nil 5.4 nil
Turkey 140 28.8 nil 6.5 nil
Salmon (canned) 155 20.3 nil 8.3 nil
Baked Potato (with skin) 136 3.9 31.7 0.2 2.7
Wheatgerm Bread (3) 212 9.5 41.5 2.0 5.1
Brown Rice 141 2.6 32.1 1.1 0.8
Oatmeal 364 11.8 62.0 7.6 7.2
Banana 95 1.2 23.2 0.3 3.1

Details taken from Collins Gem, Calorie Counter

Once we have all the foods that we like written down we can then work out how much of a particular food that we require for a meal. Maybe by now you may be thinking ‘I cant be bothered doing all that’ but I can assure you that it doesn’t take long to become quite an expert on how much of a food item that we require, how to work it out and how we can make a meal up. Most foods that you buy now have all the nutrients on the wrapping that the foods come in.

Further information on the subject of basic nutrition will be covered in the next part of this article.