Okay, so I started the challenge about two weeks ago, and so far everything seems to be going smoothly with my workouts (haven't missed a single one!), but I'm having issues figuring out how exactly to do the nutrition part of my plan. I'm a vegetarian, and although I've been getting in a good amount of protein on most days (always over 100g, but I've been aiming for ~140g especially on weight lifting days), I have trouble keeping my carbs in check. I take it that the 40/40/20 rule means that I should be aiming for just as many proteins as carbs, but does that mean in portions (one serving of egg whites to one slice of whole wheat bread?) or grams? I've found that it's really difficult for me to dip under 200g of carbs a day (or, let's be real, 220g), so even thinking about consuming <150g of carbs on a regular basis seems near impossible. Can someone clear this up for me?
If it helps to know, I'll throw my stats out there: 19, female, 143lbs, 5'5.5". My goal is to only lose about 10lbs throughout this challenge, but to trim down quite a bit and gain a pretty significant amount of muscle :)
Sorry for the late response. 40/40/20 refers to calories, actually - 40% from protein, 40% from carbs, and 20% from fat. In grams, that would be about 45/45/10. Using the 1g protein per pound body weight guideline makes it about 10 calories per pound body weight.
When I was planning my Challenge I hadn't seen that rule-of-thumb so I analyzed a bunch of "palm-and-fist" portioned meals, and actually came up with a range from 40/40/20 to 30/50/20 (prot/carb/fat). For your body weight, the high-carb end of that range would roughly work out to 180g carbs, 105g protein, and 30g fat. Fiber makes a big difference as carbs get higher - I've found in past diet/fitness programs that I can get away with more carbs if I increase the percentage of carbs that come from fiber (i.e., lots of veggies!).
What you're doing as far as protein looks good. Do your best on controlling the carbs, and monitor your results (not so much scale weight as body fat, body measurements, workout performance, and how you feel). If you're making good progress, there's probably no reason to torture yourself to trim a few more grams of carbs out of your diet.
Great info mstickles, Thanks from all of us on the site for the concise review of the basics.
Thank you so much for the response, mstickles! That sounds a lot better and much more manageable.
Lately I've been trying to reach around 1600-1800 calories a day, and find that if I consistently dip below that I have far less energy to make it through my workouts (and still reach my 10's..or 11's, that is;) - is this okay? I've read around and I've found that it is often advised to increase your intake when heavy weight lifting, even with the goal of fat loss in mind. I've yet to lose any scale weight and the only measurement I've checked are my thighs (-1/2"), but I do feel better and firmer and overall more fit than ever before. But would decreasing my intake help speed up results, or would I maybe be undereating and as a result slow them down?
Sorry, this is a lot of questions haha! I just want to make sure I'm doing this right :)
Don't worry about too many questions. That is what is so great about this forum. I know BFL is not about counting macros, but the palm/fist method doesn't work for everything. A great resource is myfitnesspal.com. You can set your macros up on there and see how close you are getting to each on a daily basis. You can also enter your daily exercise. If you want to friend me, my username is schmertnat. I can help you with any questions you have on set-up or navigation. Just mention in your friend request that you are from the BFL forum.
Best of luck to you on your challenge.
"The only person you should try to be better than, is the person you were yesterday!"
Wait. 180g of Carb, 105g of Protein and 30g of Fat would not be at all aligned with BFL.
EAS has taught the 1 gram per pound of scale body weight rule for protein and carbs. There's no method by which carbs should be higher, except after the person has reached their goal, but that's another topic.
If I displace water with my fist, then that would be about a cup. That is NOT scientific at all. Do not use that method to determine your carb amounts. For instance, a woman's portion of brown rice is typically around 1/3 of a cup.
For those stats, the protein should be at least 125g and more like 150g. The carbs should be no higher than 150g and preferably somewhat lower.
Jessica Mighty Max ~ 2013 Body-for-LIFE Champion ~ Champion is a VERB!
Although it is not actually true that every gram of protein has 4 calories, every gram of carb has 4 calories, each gram of fat has 9 and a pound equals 3500, let's go with it.
I say that because then we can compare apples to apples.
1 gram of carb = 4 calories
1 gram of protein = 4 calories
150 pounds of person
150 grams of protein (150x4=600) - again, each gram = 4 calories
150 grams of carbs (150x4=600)
Let's not forget about FAT.
That's the other 20% of the calories, which is 300.
That totals our 1500.
@Jessica - Not sure what you mean by "aligned" with BFL. I've put together a fair number of meals that followed the original "palm-fist" rule and did macronutrient analysis on them, and the hypothetical 180g-105g-30g meal plan I mentioned would fall at the absolute upper high-carb end of the range of ratios I got (numbers were rounded). The lower-carb end would fall around 145g-145g-30g. That's scaling down to 1430 calories; mine were around 2400+ calories.
I've finished nine weeks of my first challenge, and my first few weeks my actual carb-protein-fat ratio was normally between 45%-35%-20% and 50%-30%-20%. Didn't have a single day where protein exceeded (or even equalled) carbs. And I saw quite good results during that time. I've since bumped up protein to consistently equal or exceed carbs, but so far it hasn't made much difference in my results.
If I'm reading you right in your first post, it sounds like you're saying palm-fist isn't just un-useful, but actually wrong.
@hannikate1 - It's entirely possible you might need the extra calories. The 40/40/20 rule with 1g protein/carbs per pound body weight is supposed to include the extra needs for the workouts, but some people's needs are different. I'm about 222lbs myself, but get better results (and energy) at 2400-2500 calories than 2200.
@MSTICKLES - Unless you are at goal, having a higher carb amount is not aligned with BFL. No where can you find that in the BFL book. If you are going for precise, which I do, then the 1 gram per pound of scale weight would be the way to go and that also does not have you eating more carb.
Palm / fist is useful, if done properly. It's only wrong when people make wrong assumptions about it. Doing your fist displaced in water is a cute trick, but doesn't give you the right portion for many carbs. The reason why people incorrectly think that we should be having more carbs in grams is because our fist is obviously larger than just the palm of our hand. That method is because carbs are less dense, not because we are supposed to have more carb than protein in grams.
It should be noted that the gram I did above and math with the 150 pound person came directly from EAS. It's what I was taught by them during the Bill Phillips days.
People have different needs and it's okay to tweak to yours, but when giving general advice, it should be aligned with BFL.
I am a 2011 BFL Runner Up. My plan was 100% by the book with the exception of meal 6, where I did a protein heavier meal.
IF someone needs "extra" calories, then it's best to realign their balanced BFL meals or put in some more protein. It should not be done with carb.
I can't find having an equal or lower carb amount in the BFL book either. Bill Phillips didn't appear to get that precise. The sum total of guidance for sizing portions was "palm-fist". This forum was the first place I saw anything different.
If a given person's fist works out to almost a cup, but their portion of a carb like brown rice should only be 1/3 of a cup, I don't see how we avoid saying that palm-fist as a method is dead. At that point it's not whether you're using it "wrongly" or "properly", it's that you can't use it at all - at least not without a table of conversions (1/3 fist for these carbs, 1/2 fist for those...), and if you need that it's better to just ditch it and count grams.
In my original reply, I never said there was anything wrong with 40/40/20. My advice wasn't general but targeted on hannikate1's note that (paraphrased) she can't seem to get below 200g carbs per day, so 150g seems like an impossible dream. I used my calculations (and I was specific that they were mine, not Bill's or EAS') to find her highest carb level that could fit a literal set of "palm-fist" meals - it still came out below her experiential "carb floor", but was a target she could shoot for. From what she said, 150g wasn't.
That said, I should clarify - if a person can hit a protein/carb/fat ratio of 40/40/20 or better, most likely they should, unless of course it experientially compromises their progress. As a general rule, when starting something new you plan to start with what generally works for most people, and adjust based on what specifically works or doesn't work for you. If you can't do something, you do the best that you can do, and review your progress.
In fact, this thread has pinged me to review my own progress records in more detail, and I'll be bumping my own target protein/carb/fat ratio back to 35/45/20 - since I adjusted my meals to make protein equal to or slightly higher than carbs, turns out my rate of fat loss has dropped by almost one pound per week (memory failure on my part - I didn't think it had been that much). We'll see if the re-adjustment corrects that or if perhaps it was due to other factors.
It's a horrible argument to say you can't find having equal amounts of carb in the book, given it is talked about, just not spelled out. Also, look at his other writings of the time and what EAS advocated with 40-40-20.
The BFL book was made simple for the common person. EAS had always advocated 40-40-20, which would not allow for higher carb amounts. He was teaching simplicity with the palm/fist method, but has consistently warned that people need to be careful. Bill even reminded people to have an apple that's right for their size. It's one thing to keep it simple by saying that eyeballing is what can work, given it's what's taught in the book. It's quite another to argue that your fist displaces a cup of water and therefore you can have a cup of brown rice, which would be too much for man or woman. The logic leap just doesn't go that far.
You are advocating people making it work for them by tweaking. As the late great Mike Harris would say, if you tweak the program, you will get tweaked results. We can do 40-40-20. It just takes adjustments.
To really know what tweaks work, one has to be pretty much at goal. In the beginning, a few weeks of notation doesn't prove anything that's of value. Work the program and the program will work for you. There are things happening behind the scenes in your body at that stage that create too many variables. Few professional athletes even know their body that well. Lance Armstrong weighed his food. After a while you will learn, but in the beginning or even at all during the 1st Contest, it just makes no sense. I now know that my body needs a complex carb a day. I know that berries and I are great friends, but that I need to watch having non organic meat because it seems to mess with my progress. That took a long time to figure out.
If it was talked about, I'd appreciate a page number. 'Cause I just scanned back through the eating section of my copy of BFL and still don't see it (aside from the "one portion each" part, but that's not the same as equal amounts).
I will find you page numbers. Also, he mentions EAS and the website several times for more information. The book is not the only resource and EAS has consistently maintained 40-40-20, clearly showing that more carbs are not aligned with BFL. Why would he reference something that was not aligned with BFL?
The portions are equal. That's what's missed here. Also, look at the progression of Myoplex as an indicator. Saying a portion of each is saying an equal portion. It's implied, based on 40-40-20 and the fact that the fitness industry has maintained that the palm / fist method is differentiated because of protein being more dense.
Sounds good, I'll wait for 'em. Since my current problem isn't at all with the general principle of 40/40/20, only the "absoluteness" (so to speak) it was presented in, even if I'm not convinced I don't plan on following up with more debate (besides, as "senior" forum member between the two of us you should get the privilege of "last word").
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