Whether you’re on a quest to gain copious amounts of muscle or shed those few pounds that you didn’t manage to drop post holiday season, sticking to a diet can be tough.
And if anyone knows how difficult a nutrition plan can be, it’s Olympians. Winter Olympians and Summer Olympians alike are beholden to tough training schedules and demanding nutrition routines, which can often spell the difference between silver and gold.
To find out how those Olympians make it to the top, we spoke with Michael Israetel, Ph.D. Israetel is a Team USA Weightlifting consultant, the co-founder and head science consultant at Renaissance Periodization, and a U.S. Olympic Sports Nutrition consultant who’s talked nutrition and recovery with athletes competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
Israetel’s top key for success is one you might expect: consistency. “The number one mistake is not staying consistent,” he says. “Most guys know people who are like, ‘Oh yeah, I do that,’ even though they don’t [actually stick to their routine].”
And the biggest diet trap people fall for? Fads and crash diets.
“The biggest misconception is that you can get away from eating healthier food in smaller portions to lose weight. If you come to grips with the fact that at least for the time that you’re losing weight…you’re going to be eating slightly smaller portions, and it’s going to be mostly healthy food. Then, you won’t be in store for a shock. You’ll think, ‘Okay, it makes sense,’ and you’ll have great results.”
His recommendation is breaking your diet down into macronutrients—protein, fats, and carbs—based on your weight and your goals as follows:
- Protein: 1 gram of protein per pound per day
- Fats: at least .3 grams per pound per day
- Carbs: on average 1.5 grams per pound per day
Those numbers are baseline, but if you’re not very active, you can include more fats and less carbs. If you’re a fitness fanatic, you can have more carbs less fats—just adjust depending on your exercise levels.
To maintain your current weight, aim to eat 12 times your weight in calories (in 2-5 meals per day). As an example, someone who weighs 150 pounds should consume 1,800 calories total per day. For weight loss, your total calories per day should be about 10 times your weight. For weight gain, your total calories per day should be about 14 times your weight.
Here are ten Renaissance Periodization-friendly recipes that Israetel recommends—five are geared toward weight loss, and five toward gaining mass.