Remember the USDA Food Pyramid? The one that was posted by the lunch line in your grade school cafeteria and taught in health class? The government’s official position on how you should eat to be fit and healthy included recommendations to consume up to 11 servings of pasta, bread, and crackers per day; limit meat and eggs to three servings; and count potatoes as a vegetable. Yeah, don’t eat like that. The Food Pyramid was so misleading and inaccurate that in 2011 it was replaced with the USDA’s MyPlate, an improved but still flawed approach to fighting obesity. To be fair, the government’s nutrition advice is aimed at the average American who desires to be in only average shape (read: not obese). To that end, we’ve created the Men’s Fitness Food Pyramid—an easy visual guide to eating for physique enhancement, performance, and optimal health. See how the pyramid works below and then use it to build a better body.
HIT YOUR NUMBERS
As a physique-conscious eater, you need to think in terms of macronutrients as well as calories. Every food you eat gets counted toward a total target amount (in grams) of protein, carbs, and fat, which you can determine by multiplying the numbers in the Men’s Fitness Food Pyramid by your body weight in pounds. Hit these numbers and you’ll hit your goals. With that said, your nutrition doesn’t need to be as precise as target coordinates for a missile attack. You’ll do just fine eyeballing portions of protein, carbs, and fat (which we’ll show you how to do) and keeping a general tally.
MAKE ADJUSTMENTS AS NECESSARY
The calorie and macronutrient recommendations here are just a starting point. Every trainee needs to find the proper amounts for his own body. If you’re not losing weight, reduce your carbs gradually, and try experimenting with bumping up your protein and fat intake a bit. If you feel as if you can’t gain weight, you can add more carbs and even more fat, which will increase your calories sharply. For any formulation you make, give it at least a week to take effect before you make any changes.
THE MACRONUTRIENT BREAKDOWN >>> Page 2