Putting It All Together

Here's a very simple way to estimate the best diet plan for you. If you did the math earlier in this chapter, you have a rough idea of how many calories it takes to maintain your current weight.

So let's return to Joe Workingstiff as our example. He weighs 200 pounds, and we've calculated his daily maintenance diet at 3,000 calories.

He's decided to eat a gram of protein for every pound of his current body weight. Since each gram of protein has 4 calories, that's 800 calories from protein, leaving him with 2,200 to round out his diet.

If he simply chooses to split the difference, and eat equal amounts of fat and carbs, he needs 1,100 calories of each macronutrient. A gram of fat has 9 calories, so he'll need 122 grams of fat per day. A gram of carbohydrate has 4 calories, so he'll need 275 grams to reach 1,200 calories.

Some people like to think of their diet in percentages. If Joe is among them, it breaks down like this (with numbers rounded off to keep it simple):

Protein: 26 percent (800 calories/200 grams)

Fat: 37 percent (1,100 calories/122 grams)

Carbohydrates: 37 percent (1,100 calories/275 grams)

But let's say Joe isn't comfortable with all that fat in his diet and wants to cut back to a bare-minimum 30 percent of calories. That's an even 900 calories from fat, which gives him an easy-to-remember target of 100 fat grams a day. Now his percentages look like this:

Protein: 26 percent (800 calories/200 grams)

Fat: 30 percent (900 calories/100 grams)

Carbohydrates: 44 percent (1,300 calories/325 grams)

A relatively painless way to put together a diet based on numbers like this is through an online database. I like fitday.com, and there are probably others like it. You'll find that simply tracking your daily calories for a few weeks, and forcing yourself to tweak your meal plans to bring them in line with your calorie goals, can set you up for months of low-maintenance weight control.

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