How do I create a personalized diet? In this article, find out how to set up a tailored diet in a practical way. If you haven’t read the articles on diet and low-calorie diets yet, I recommend you do so to get the theoretical support you need to better understand this personalized diet, even if you go to the gym!
What is a personalized food diet?
A personalized diet is the only type of diet that should exist, who would follow a diet that doesn’t meet their needs?
To date, there is a vast, perhaps excessive, array of diet proposals, each with a (more or less valid) foundation on which it is based. The premise on which the personalized diet must be based is first of all biochemistry and physiology, if you don’t take them into consideration, you are already starting off on the wrong foot.
What does it mean? If, for example, you think that fats are useless and that eliminating them from the face of the earth is the best option, a start could be to find out about their function for the body.
Having said that, there are many parameters for a personalized diet to take into consideration. But the more you are able to consider them, the more you will have a complete picture for drawing up a food plan: drawing up a diet based only on body weight will certainly be less personalized than one that considers your weight, your lean mass, the physical activity you do, any pathologies, lifestyle, etc.
How does a personalized diet work?
Regardless of the person, before following a low-calorie regimen it is important to verify that the parameters of health are in order and that sufficient calories are taken in to be able to implement a calorie cut. Otherwise, before starting you need to take at least 2-4 weeks of break diet: before going on a diet it is better to invest a month to create the conditions to follow it successfully.
If the diet then set really takes into account individuality (which should always be the basis of a food plan worthy of the name) and valid and sustainable principles over time, the game is done.
What if something goes wrong…? It will be sufficient to review some parameters and adjust them, also based on how the subject responds to the diet. And so on, based on improvements, errors, and new needs, the diet plan will be corrected and revised during construction to be even more personalized.
How to create a personalized diet?
Here you will find a practical example of how to set calories to better understand how the procedure works. The quality and quantity of individual meals will be established later.
- Decide how many kg we want to lose and calculate how long it will take. Marco weighs 85kg and wants to go down to 80kg > 5kg of fat is 35,000kcal. With a calorie deficit of 3500kcal per week (-500kcal per day) it will take him 10 weeks. We calculate 4 weeks (2+2) of break diet to be included during the course. We will thus have 14 weeks to remove 5kg of fat (and not water or glycogen).
- Compared to our TDEE subtract the deficit calories and balance the macros. Marco has a TDEE of 2700kcal (he trains 3 times a week), so he will have to consume 2200kcal a day on average. On Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday he decides to eat normally (2700 kcal), while on the other 4 days, he has a deficit of 1825 kcal. On normocaloric days, he takes 175 g of protein (2.2 x 80 kg of ideal weight), 45 g of fat, and 400 g of carbohydrates. On low-calorie days he takes 200g of protein (2.5x80kg), 55g of fat, and 120g of carbohydrates.
- Evaluate the trends from week to week, looking at the scale and the circumferences. Marco sees that the plan is going well but decides to slightly decrease carbohydrates on Wednesdays and Fridays and redistribute them on low-calorie days. He decides to start the two-week break diet near the end of four and nine weeks. Because the results begin to decline after the sixth week, he reduces the calories by 250 kcal.
Variables to set a personalized diet:
Goal: lose weight or gain muscle mass?
To lose weight, it is essential to “consume more than you eat” and thus establish a caloric deficit, a prerequisite for all slimming diets that work. To gain weight, however, a caloric surplus is required to meet the body’s growth and anabolic demands.
In both cases, these are slow and gradual processes, and the philosophy of “everything and now” does not work. It is recommended to respect the body’s times by:
- lose 0.5-1% of your body weight per week for weight loss;
- Increase by 200-450 g/week to gain mass.
Weight and height
Weight is the most important variable, in fact, most of the formulas that allow you to estimate energy needs always take into consideration the weight, and only some, in addition to the weight, also take into account other variables.
In general, those who weigh more consume more, both at rest and during physical activity. Even if, to have a more precise estimate, it is better to know how the weight is distributed between lean mass and lean mass: it is clear that with the same weight but different body composition, the metabolic implications and needs are diametrically opposite.
Height, on the other hand, is a parameter that is less considered and that surely those who are overweight will be happier to use.
Below you will find some formulas for calculating the basal requirement.
Daily basal calorie consumption – MEN
|MET formula||weight x 23|
|Harris & Benedict’s formula||66.47 + (13.75 x weight) + (5 x height) – (6.76 x age)|
|Schoefield formula 18-30 years||[(63 x weight) + 2.896] : 4.186|
|Schoefield formula 30-60 years||[(48 x weight) + 3.653] : 4.186|
|Owen’s formula – active subjects||290 + (22.3 x weight)|
|Owen’s formula – inactive subjects||879 + (10.2 x weight)|
Daily basal calorie consumption – WOMEN
|MET formula||weight x 0.9 x 23|
|Harris & Benedict’s formula||655.1 + (9.56 x weight) + (1.85 x height) – (4.68 x age)|
|Schoefield formula 18-30 years||[(62 x weight) + 2896] : 4.186|
|Schoefield formula 30-60 years||[(34 x weight) + 3538] : 4.186|
|Owen’s formula – active subjects||50.4 + (21.1 x weight)|
|Owen’s formula – inactive subjects||795 + (7.18 x weight)|
Lifestyle is an important factor that affects the basal metabolic rate, which is mainly responsible for the number of calories you consume each day (60–70% of the total). If you have a dynamic and active job, your basal metabolic rate and, therefore, total calorie consumption, will be spontaneously higher than those who instead have a sedentary and less physically demanding job.
In general, those with a sedentary lifestyle consume less: both because they move less and because a sedentary lifestyle can also be associated with other aspects that contribute to worsening their physical condition, such as the choice of unhealthy foods or excessive calorie consumption.
The total calories that come from the variables considered will be your point of reference. However, the theoretical calculation must be verified in practice. For example, if you estimate a caloric deficit of 400 kcal per day, but the weight does not drop after a week. It is better to reevaluate the calculations or, more pragmatically, increase the deficit slightly. Ditto in case you want to gain weight.
Including foods you like is very important to make it easy to stick with the diet in the long run (which you need to aim for). You don’t need to give up the foods you like best, depending on their caloric value you can evaluate how many times you can include them in the week.
For many, the favorite foods will be sweets, super-calorie foods, or foods usually “forbidden” by diets: the same concept still applies, not eliminating but limiting.
Types of personalized diet
This chapter takes into consideration some types of diets and, for each, you will find a reference article for any specific study.
It’s not easy and immediate to lose weight but neither is it to put on weight, especially lean mass. To gain weight, increase your calories by 10-15% of your current intake and combine weight training. For more details see this article.
As already mentioned, for the low-calorie diet the deficit of 15-20% of calories must be maintained, over and above other specific problems such as insulin resistance.
A too-drastic cut should be avoided mainly for two reasons. The first is that it cannot be sustainable in the long run, while the second concerns the appearance of a weight stall due to a metabolic block that prevents weight loss.
By “high protein” diet we mean a diet in which more than 35% of the caloric requirement derives from proteins or which, in g of proteins/kg body weight, exceeds the value of 0.8.
It’s easy to find someone who claims that eating too much protein is bad for your health: this is true, but only for people who have some pathology, such as renal insufficiency. When dosed properly, consuming more protein than the traditional 0.8 g/kg recommendation does not harm healthy subjects, especially if they are athletes. As a result, proteins are not the cause of kidney or bone damage.
The Mediterranean diet in itself is a good choice, although, in reality, it would be more correct to say Mediterranean “lifestyle” rather than “diet”. In addition to the foods to be eaten more or less frequently, in fact, there are also other precautions that contribute to making the Mediterranean model an example of a healthy lifestyle:
- do moderate and constant exercise (even every day),
- look for quality and seasonal foods,
- Prefer natural and non-industrial foods.
These aspects (together with at least 50% carbohydrates, fruit, vegetables, and unsaturated fats) are all part of the balanced Mediterranean lifestyle, therefore it is not enough to eat Neapolitan pizza Margherita every day to be able to boast of following the Mediterranean example.
Following a vegetarian lifestyle (but the same problem is extensible to omnivores) can lead to imbalances in the diet, as deficiencies could occur.
The first “weak point” that may come to mind is the lack of proteins of animal origin and therefore the absence of a better amino acid profile. To compensate for this, vegetable protein sources (legumes) can be combined with cereals to obtain a complete amino acid profile or with other animal protein sources other than meat. However, vegetable proteins should be considered at the same level as animal proteins in the daily protein quota, as they are always proteins.
A more critical point for those who follow a vegetarian diet is iron intake, as the body has more difficulty assimilating iron from vegetable sources than from animal sources.
One aspect that certainly goes in favor concerns fats, since vegetarians have a very low intake of saturated fats (bad), and more easily than omnivores they obtain the lipid share from polyunsaturated fats (good), such as those of dried fruit.
Example of a balanced personalized weight loss diet
Below you will find an example of foods to include in a typical week with a balanced diet; the quantities and therefore the caloric intake is not considered, the focus is on the quality of the food and not on the quantity.
Consider adding greens to lunch and dinner and/or mid-morning and afternoon snacks. In free meals, self-regulation is important: if you overdo it in an unregulated way. It is easy to recover the calories that, with difficulty, you didn’t take in during the rest of the week, thus nullifying the efforts and answering the question “why am I not losing weight?”.
- Breakfast: fresh fruit and low-fat yogurt
- Lunch: pasta with tuna
- Dinner: chicken with potatoes
- Breakfast: oatmeal with skim milk
- Lunch: rice with prawns
- Dinner: vegetable soup and lean fish
- Breakfast: Greek yogurt (2%), rusks with jam
- Lunch: salad
- Dinner: Eggs with asparagus
- Breakfast: soy milk with cereal
- Lunch: pasta with legumes
- Dinner: cuttlefish with peas
- Breakfast: low-fat yogurt with dried fruit
- Lunch: pasta with tomato sauce and eggs
- Dinner: rabbit with potatoes
- Breakfast: oatmeal with skim milk
- Lunch: salad
- Dinner: free meal
- Breakfast: free meal
- Lunch: free meal
- Dinner: vegetable soup
Some of the foods most commonly used in dietary regimens, thanks to their relationship between calories and satiety, are Greek or low-fat yogurt, egg white, chicken or turkey breast, cod, mushrooms (without exaggerating), potatoes boiled in their skins (without exaggerating), legumes (without exaggerating), fish, and vegetables.
Personalized diet in bodybuilding to increase muscle mass
To have tangible results, the training program must also be in line with a personalized diet.
The set macronutrients must be able to support the anabolic phase of building muscle tissue, replenish energy stores, and provide the basic material for muscle formation and repair.
To achieve this, the first step is to increase the normocaloric by 10-15% (with possible slight increases in case it is not sufficient or there is a stall) and then to divide the calories between the three macronutrients:
- Proteins: 1.6 g/kg of body weight up to 2.2 g/kg, best if taken divided into several aliquots during the day.
- Fats: 20-30% of caloric intake, without going below 0.5g fats/kg of body weight, to be consumed preferably away from training.
- Carbohydrates: by subtraction, they make up the rest of the calories, with a minimum threshold of 1g/kg. Carbohydrates, in addition to their energy function, are an important means for the building phase, as they increase the speed of metabolic reactions in trained subjects. The greater portion of carbohydrates (50-70%) is best consumed in the hours close to training.
A personalized diet based on genetics: nutrigenetics
What’s more personal and contains more information than your own DNA? All information about you is contained in your genetic material.
You react differently to each stimulus (such as the molecules in food) than another person because you have a unique and inimitable genetic heritage. To make the concept clear, an obvious example of this is that someone is lactose intolerant while others are not. The former has it written in their DNA that they must not have the lactase enzyme capable of breaking down lactose or have it inefficient, while the latter has it and it works.
This means that everyone has a diet that fits them perfectly, thanks to nutrigenetics, a relatively new and developing science. You can tell if a food is good or bad for you if it can prevent certain diseases or affect the course of a disease you may be suffering from.
“If we could provide everyone with the right dose of nourishment and physical exercise, neither in deficiency nor excess, we would have found the way to health.”
Conclusions on the personalized diet
The personalized diet is the best diet you will ever follow. The reason you fail on a diet is that it’s not tailor-made for you. You can’t respect quantities. You’ve deprived yourself of all the things you like, and you’ve lost motivation because you don’t see results. There’s too much gap big between what you used to eat and what you eat, etc.
To have the diet of your dreams, it is best to work with a capable doctor, nutritionist, or dietician to meet your needs within the limits of a healthy diet. It makes the meal plan more suitable.