Nutrition For Beginners - Part II

Part 2 looks at the amounts of food you need to build muscle and what are the best sources for protein, carbs and fat.

Welcome to the second part of Nutrition for beginners. In part one there is a list of foods that are recommended to eat as part of a nutritious eating plan, these foods are classified as the food groups: Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats.

But how much of each part of the food groups do we need?

We already know that from the Harris Benedict formula that was contained in Part 1 of Nutrition for beginners, that we can work out how many calories per day that we require for our resting metabolic rate (RMR) this is the amount of calories used in the day by our bodies at rest.

Also in Part 1 of Nutrition for beginners is an activity calculator that we can calculate how many calories we burn off every day.

And we also know from Part 1 of Nutrition for beginners that we have to add to the total of the two figures obtained from above. And add ten percent for the thermic effect of food (TEF) this is the amount of calories used in digestion of food.

In Part 1 the following example was given of the total amount of calories required in the day 2600 calories. And the percentages of protein, carbohydrates, and fats was given as 30% - 50% - 20%.

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
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.

To stop the rise and fall of blood glucose levels we divide the total amount of foods by as many meals as we can obtain in the day, we are not eating more calories per day only dividing the amount we require between the meals. Research has told us that the best way to eat our foods in the day is six meals rather than have three very large meals to get the required amount of calories per day so from the amounts given that we need per day we divide this amount by six meals.

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

So how much of each given food group do we need to obtain the required amount of grams of food?


Protein: we need 33g of protein per meal and so what we do is pick from the list what food we require, and the amount of protein obtained from that each ounce of that food is given in grams of protein, so all we do is add up how many grams we need of protein and then have a look at the list and that will tell us how many ounces of each food that we need.

Example: If we want chicken in our meal then we know that we require approx 33g for each meal of protein: So looking at the total grams of protein per ounce of Chicken we can work out that we require 4 ½ oz of Chicken breast will give us 34g of Protein.

Protein Food Protein in Grams per Ounce (28g) of each food
Chicken Breast 7.6g
Turkey Breast 8.5g
Lean Minced Turkey 8.0g
Swordfish 5.1g
Haddock 5.4g
Salmon 5.7g
Tuna (canned) 6.7g
Crab 5.7g
Lobster 6.1g
Shrimp 4.8g
Fillet Steak 8.3g
Sirloin Steak 7.8g
Lean Minced Beef 6.6g
Lean Ham 5.2g
Egg (medium whole) 7.2g
Cottage cheese 1.9g
Protein drinks As per makers serving


Carbohydrates: we know that we require 54g of carbohydrates per meal and so to achieve this amount we pick from the list what carbohydrate foods we require, and the amount of carbohydrates obtained from each ounce of that food is given in grams of carbohydrate, so all we do is add up how many grams we need of carbohydrate and then have a look at the list and that will tell us how many ounces of each food that we need to give us the required amount in grams.

Carbohydrate Food Carbohydrate in Grams per Ounce (28g) of each food
Baked Potato 8.0g
Sweet Potato 6.0g
Yam (boiled) 6.4g
Squash 2.4g
Potatoes (boiled) 4.8g
Brown Rice 8.8g
Pasta 9.4g
Oatmeal 5.7g
Shredded Wheat 8.8g
Baked Beans 4.4g
Corn (on the cob) 3.3g
Strawberries 1.7g
Melon 1.8g
Apple 3.4g
Orange 1.7g
Whole-wheat Bread 11.8g
Yogurts (100ml) 7.7g

Therefore: We need 54g of Carbohydrate per meal. So by looking at the chart and we choose in the meal something to go with our chicken, If we chose brown rice that has 8.8g of carbohydrate per ounce, so from 6 ounces we can get 53g of Carbohydrates. But remember that we would also use Vegetables and fruit with our meals and that would also be required to be taken into consideration although with vegetables the amount of calories in vegetables is very low and you can have a lot of vegetables for little calorific intake. Some fruits contain quite a lot of carbohydrates and would also need to be taken into consideration.


Fat: We get fat out of our foods and red meats contain approx 7g per ounce of Fat. Fish contains approx 4g per ounce, of fat. Chicken contains approx 1g of fat per ounce. Turkey only has negligible fat per ounce and only 1.5g per 3.5oz (100g). An oily dressing can be made up of Virgin olive oil, ginger and vinegar as a dressing for vegetables and salads, and supplements like UDO’s ultimate blend can be used in protein drinks and on food. Flaxseed oil can also be used as a dressing and can also be mixed into a dressing with vinegar and ginger, or used neat. Each teaspoon of oil is 5g of fat.

 So if as was said before that we are using chicken in our meal with brown rice, we now know that chicken has approx 1g of fat per ounce so from our six ounces we get 6g of fat, so we need another 4g, what we would do to obtain that is to use 1tsp of oily dressing on our food. (1tsp = 5g fat)

Note that dairy products and red meats contain saturated fats, which are not good for health reasons, try to stay with fats from sources like: Virgin olive oil, Fish oils, Flaxseed oil/seeds, Sesame oil/seeds, Nuts and nut oils, or blended oils like UDO’s Ultimate blend.

What about fruit and Veg: With regards to the meal given above, we haven’t used any vegetables, given that vegetables are very low in carbohydrates and calories, we still require vegetables along with fruit in the day for vitamins and minerals. So in our lunch above, we could use a salad with our lunch, and have two different vegetables for our evening meal, you can have vegetables or salads with most of our meals, and try for at least two to three portions of fruit per day. Fruit and veg and also grains provide us with valuable fibre in the day which is needed for proper bowel function.

There is also protein in vegetables and fruit but vegetable protein is short in amino acids which proteins are broken down into, and as such we can include the protein in our fruit and veg as long as we eat protein sources such as: Lean meats, Poultry, Fish, Beans, Eggs, and Nuts. Protein drinks, Soya protein. Vegetarians have to be careful to combine different vegetable proteins together i.e. nuts/seeds/grain/pulses to obtain complete proteins.

Remember that this article is only about basic nutrition; once you have grasped the basics then you would be able to work calories, protein, carbs, and fats per meal. A lot of this information is contained in books that can be purchased from good book shops. One that I would recommend is The Collins Gem, Calorie Counter, and has all the information contained in it for each food. But most book shops would contain books with the same information.

It is important to prepare a food diary so that you know what foods are being used in your nutritional plan, and also you will need to know approximately how many calories you consume in the day, the information is required because if we are trying to lose body fat then we would have to decrease calories. When we decrease calories we also still have to think about the percentages of proteins, carbohydrates and fats that we eat in the day, an example would be if we wanted to decrease by 500 calories per day that would equate to 150 cal of protein, 250 cal of carbohydrates and 100 calories of fat (remember that we used a protein, carbohydrate and fat (PCF) ratio of 30% - 50% - 20% in our example above) The same is true if we want to put mass on, and we want to eat more calories in the day we still work in the percentages given above. (If that is the PCF ratio that you are working in, there are many variables of this ratio but that is a bit more specialized and beyond the scope of this basic nutrition article).

Below is an example of three main meals that could be put into a meal plan. You will notice that in foods that we think is a carbohydrate food but you can see that it still contains proteins, and visa versa with a protein food that can contain carbohydrates.

It can be difficult to make each meal exact in terms of Protein, Carbohydrates, and fats, but as long as we can get the total amount of calories per day for a given week then this would be ok. For a bodybuilding competition diet the amount of grams of a given food would be more precise and would be weighed out to give the exact amount.


Food Amount Protein (g) Carbs (g) Fat (g) Fibre (g)
Oats made With water 170g 4 18.0 2 7.2
Milk 100ml 3.3 5.0 0.1 0
Omelette 1 whole egg 4 egg whites 23 2.0 5.0 0
Whole wheat bread 1 toasted 3 16 2 3
Banana Half 0.5 11.5 0 1.6
Total:   33.8g 52.5g 9.1g 11.8g


Food Amount Protein (g) Carbs (g) Fat (g) Fibre (g)
Chicken Breast 100g 26 0 4 0
Brown Rice 100g 2.6 32 1.1 0.8
Mixed Salad Large 3 6 0 3
Oil/vinegar dressing 1 tsp 0 0 5 0
Apple Medium 0.5 21 0 3.7
Total:   32.1g 59g 10.1g 7.5g

Evening Meal:

Food Amount Protein (g) Carbs (g) Fat (g) Fibre (g)
Swordfish Fillet 150g 27 0 6.2 0
Potato Boiled 150g 2.7 25 0.2 1.2
Mixed Vegetables 200g 6.6 26.7 1.0 8.0
Fruit cocktail 110g 0.5 18 0 1.2
Milk Low - fat 100ml 3.3 5.0 0.1 0
Totals:   40.1g 50.7g 7.5g 10.4g

The above gives us three of our 6 meals, the remainder could be protein, and carb drinks with an oil like flaxseed or UDO’s added towards the daily fat total. Some people like having solid foods in these meals for the satiety feeling from whole foods. But at the end of the day we are not all the same and it is personal choice as to what you have in the day to obtain your daily calories.

Fibre: Is important to get a minimum of 25g of fibre in our daily diet for proper bowel function. From the above meals we can see that this would be easily obtained by a balanced diet of fruit and veg the three meals above gives a total of just under 30g.

Fluid intake is equally important as food.

 Water serves as the body's transportation system. It is the medium by which other nutrients and essential elements are distributed throughout the body. Without this transport of supplies the body factory would stop. Water also works as the transport for body waste removal.

Water is a lubricant. The presence of water in and around body tissues helps defend the body against shock. The brain, eyes, and spinal cord are among the body's sensitive structures that depend on a protective water layer. Water is present in the mucous and salivary juices of our digestive systems. This is especially important for moving food through the digestive tract. Persons who experience reduced salivary output soon will realize that foods taste differently and are harder to swallow. As a lubricant, water also is helpful for smooth movement of bone joints.

Water participates in the body's biochemical reactions. The digestion of protein and carbohydrates to usable and absorbable forms depends on water as part of the chemical reaction.

Water regulates body temperature. Our health and well-being are dependent on keeping body temperature within a very narrow range. The human body, which is made of 60-75 percent water, serves this function quite well. Water itself changes temperature slowly and is able to help regulate body temperature by serving as a good heat storage material.

Evaporation of water from body surfaces also helps cool the body. Sweat loss that is barely noticeable occurs every day and night. Individuals may lose up to a pint of water each day in this manner. In hot, humid weather or during exercise, increased sweating and losses of water are more visible and extra fluid intake is imperative under these conditions.

If you have any questions about diets for building muscle you can ask Doug over on the forum. It's free to register and there's plenty of experience members to help you out.