Nutrition plays an important goal in a successful body recomposition. Training alone will not bring much results on your recomp because the whole process of muscle growth happens outside the gym. It is important to have the right fuel after a great workout to optimize muscle growth. However for beginners, the nutrition part might be daunting to start. These 4 simple steps will tell you how to eat the right nutrition for body recomposition. Grab your notes and let’s get started.
In case you missed the previous blog post:
Step 1: Maintenance Calories
Here are two ways for you to figure out your maintenance calories. One is through the online calorie calculator, another one is by tracking your calorie intake for a few days.
For me, I will prefer you to track your food intake for a few days. The reason is, an online calculator isn’t for everyone. For those that had a dieting history, their current TDEE will tend to be lower because of the long-term calorie deficiency. The calories calculator is also not accurate for certain heights (especially person with a shorter frame), it might result in giving you a lower calorie requirement than you actually need or vice versa.
If you really wish to follow an online calories calculator, remember to set back an allowance of errors between 10% to 20%. As everyone has different genetics and body condition, your actual maintenance calories might varies from the calculation.
For those that proceed with tracking your food intake, log your calories for each meal for three days. Food journal is a good way to start though, for those that wish to make things simple, just look for calorie counting apps. After three days, get the average calories for each day and that will be your maintenance calories.
Step 2: Set Up Your Recomp calories
At this point, it’s time for you to figure out your calories for recomp.
As I mentioned in the second post of this series, there is a slight difference between the three sub-categories of people when they approach to their diet. (How to know my recomp subcategory?) Once you get your recomp nutrition approach, you’ll set up your daily calories based on the categories below.
Sub category A
Those who have an average body fat percentage and wish to lose more fat.
For those who are under this category, follow your current maintenance calories. The only change in your diet is to integrate more protein in your diet. As you start training with weight, more protein will make sure you sufficiently build muscle.
During the recomp, you will switch some of your carbs intake to protein-based food to meet your protein goals. The remaining calories can be carbs and fat, but make sure most of them come from whole food instead of processed food.
Sub category B
Lean individual that have some skinny fat to lose.
Add 150-200 above your maintenance calories. No worries, adding in more calories probably won’t accumulate much fat on you. It is because the less body fat percentage you have, the less opportunity you would accumulate fat. Those extra calories will probably go on building more muscle mass and help you progress faster.
At the same time, you still need to meet your protein needs. Head down to find out your protein requirement.
Sub category C
Individuals that is over weight but stills within a considerable body fat percentage.
You will benefit from the calorie cycling strategy as you are able to lose fat while still optimizing your gym performance. The thing that you need to do is add in 5~10% surplus on training day and 20% deficit on non-training day. From this, your overall weekly calories will still be in a deficit, but you get to optimize your gym performance at the same time.
If you have more training days, then you need to make sure the total weekly surplus didn’t exceed your weekly deficit. The key here is to make sure you balanced up your overall calories into a slight deficit. Let’s say if you have 5 training days a week, then two of your training day will be in a lower calorie.
Example- A person with maintenance calories of 2100 kcal
Sunday: Leg day (High calories day-2210 kcal)
Monday: Upper body- Shoulder/ Back (Moderate calorie day- 2100 kcal)
Tuesday: Rest (Low calorie day- 1680 kcal)
Wednesday: Leg day (High calories day-2310 kcal)
Thursday: Upper body- Chest/Bicep/Tricep (High calories day-2210 kcal )
Friday: Full body/ Cardio (High calories day-2210 kcal)
Saturday: Rest (Low calories day-1680 kcal)
Same as the other two subcategories, protein is the key to recomp. In this case, the calories that you cycle throughout the weeks should be mostly carbs, protein should remain the same every day and meet your daily protein requirement.
Step 3: Calories and Protein Requirement
The 2 most important things in recomp nutrition are the total calories and protein. You total daily calories will determine whether you gain weight (a combination of fat and muscle) or lose weight. If you think that doing all this tracking is daunting, there are tons of macro tracking apps available.
Basically, the key to a successful recomp is by integrating more protein into your diet while eating with the right amount of your total daily calories. Most individuals did not get enough protein throughout the day but often found themselves eating too much of either carbs or fat. Therefore, payingmore attention on your protein intake is crucial.
The recommended amount of protein for muscle gain should be 1.6g-2g of protein per kg of your body weight. In pounds, it is 0.7g-1g of protein per pound of your body weight.
Step 4: Monitor Your Body Recomposition Progress
Throughout the process, you need to weigh yourself and take waist measurements once a week. You’ll make diet adjustments throughout the process based on these measurements.
Here are the three scenarios and what you can do respectively:
For those that losing weight, look at the rate of weight loss will give you clues of whether it’s fat loss or muscle loss.
The normal rate weight loss should be 1-2 pounds each week. If you found you lose weight too fast, it might be an indication of muscle loss. If this is the case, add about <150 kcal to your diet because this means that the energy you consumed did not meet your needs.
For those that have a more steady weight loss rate. If your waist measurement had decreased and you feel stronger in the gym, this is a great indicator that signified you had lost fat and gained a small amount of muscle. For this, you can determine whether to add more calories based on your goal.
If you gain weight, consider first whether is that you truly gained. It could be muscle mass, water retention or fat gain. For those that just start training and notice weight gain, I doubt the fact of fat gain. More probably it is due to water retention in muscles. Observe for another week to see whether it goes off.
If you still gain weight in the following weeks, you need to determine whether you are gaining muscle, fat or both. A sign of fat gain is when you look fluffier instead of looking more firmer in your progress picture. Reexamine whether you had consumed some hidden calories or underestimated how much you eat. If necessary, decrease your calories by 100-200.
If you found no change in your weight, then you need to further look at your waist measurement. An increase in waist measurement indicates that you had lose muscle and gained fat. If this is the case, look at your training programme, do you really train focus on hypertrophy? Do you do too much cardio but did not emphasize building muscle?
If you found the opposite, which is a decrease in waist measurement. This is a good sign that you had started building some muscle and at the same time losing fat. Keep it up!
Here is the end of my series about body recomposition for beginners. I hope this blog post helps you to have a better idea of how body recomp looks like. If you had inspired by my post and wish to get started on your recomp journey, start action now!