Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Magen, What Does Your Diet Consist Of?

I’m often asked what my diet consists of so in today’s blog I will share that with you. Remember that what works for me, might not work for you. With diet you have to experiment – see what works and what doesn’t. That’s pretty much what I’ve been doing for the past year. The first real “diet” I put myself on was taken from my first-ever Muscle & Fitness Hers magazine. It was pretty similar in comparison to how I’m eating now: eat about six small meals a day every 2-3 hours.

When people complain about how they aren’t losing and meeting their goals, but they are exercising like crazy, I ask them what their diet is like. That usually tends to be the root of their problems and where the excuses start: “I don’t have time to eat”, “I like my beer too much”, “I have such a sweet tooth”, etc. It all comes down to how badly you want this. I’m not saying don’t ever touch another slice of pizza again or you can’t drink beer, but do so in moderation. And, another thing that most people don’t have control over: portion control!

Depending on what your goals are, this will reflect in how many calories you should be taking in per day and how much protein, fats, and carbs, too. I recently used a different method to figure out what my calorie intake should be based on my goals (and I’m also experimenting with my diet…again). I used the Harris Benedict Equation, which is a formula that uses your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and then applies an activity factor to determine your total calories. Using this equation, keep in mind that the only factor omitted is lean body mass. Leaner bodies need more calories than less leaner ones. Therefore, the equation is accurate in all but the very muscular (who will need to underestimate caloric needs) and the heavier (who will need to overestimate caloric needs).

So the first step is calculating your BMR:

Men will find that by using the following equation: BMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) - (6.76 x age in years)
Women will find that by using the following equation: BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years)

Based on that equation, I found my BMR is 1395.1.
655 + (4.35 x 128) + (4.7 x 66) – (4.7 x 27) = 1395.1

Now, you figure out your activity levels:

Little to no exercise: BMR x 1.2
Light exercise (1-3 days per week): BMR x 1.375
Moderate exercise (3-5 days per week): BMR x 1.55
Heavy exercise (6-7 days per week): BMR x 1.725
Very heavy exercise (twice per day, extra heavy workouts): BMR x 1.9

Since I work out 6-7 days per week, I multiplied my BMR by 1.725 and came up with the number 2406.5425. These would be the calories I’d need to take in each day to MAINTAIN my weight. But right now that’s not my goal. I want to lose some body fat and start leaning out again, so I subtracted 500 from the 2406 number and got 1,906. If I was looking to gain, I’d add 500 to that number. So I’m roughly at 1,800-1,900 calories per day, and in every meal I aim to include the proper amounts of proteins, fats, and carbs. My goal is to continue to gain lean muscle mass while losing body fat, so my intake of proteins will be higher than someone who is just looking to lose body fat, etc. and the same goes for my fats and carbs.

Carbohydrates (Carbs)

Carbs is where you get your energy from. I, personally, would never ever survive on the Atkins diet or any other very low-carb diet, especially with the way I work out. I eat both complex carbs and simple carbs. The complex carbs I consume are sweet potatoes, brown rice, rice cakes, oatmeal, etc. And the simple carbs are fruits and veggies. Complex carbs digest within the body at a slower rate than simple carbs. Complex carbs will offer a more stable flow of energy, whereas the simple carbs still offer the same amount of energy, but at a far more rapid pace. That’s why it’s better to eat something like oatmeal in the morning versus just a fruit. It will keep you fuller longer until your next meal.


Protein is made up of amino acids – essential and non-essential. Essential amino acids are not found in the body and must be supplied through diet, while non-essential ones are found in the body. There are nine essential amino acids: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. The other 13 are non-essential and produced within the body. When you consume the right amount of proteins, fats, and carbs, everything should work the way it’s supposed to and the proteins will carry out its specific functions. Its functions include the replacement of old cells, building muscles, organs, blood, nails, hair, skin, and tissues. It also takes part in hormone, antibodies, and enzyme formation. And it helps in burning fat. It builds muscle and muscle burns fat! I get my protein from egg whites, protein powder, fat-free cottage cheese, tuna, salmon, chicken, bison, protein bars, etc.


Yes, fats (also known as lipids). Your body needs them so don’t be scared of it. There are such things as healthy fats! There are the bad fats: saturated and trans fat (read: pizza, tacos, ice cream, lasagna, cheese); better fats: monosaturated and polyunsaturated (read: corn, soy, sunflower oil, and canola and olive oil); and best fats: omega – 3s (read: salmon, fish oil, tuna). I get my healthy fats from olive oil, salmon, tuna, fish oil pills, peanut butter, etc.

Putting It All Together

Since my goal is to reach between 1,800 and 1,900 calories a day, I make sure to eat six meals consisting of around 300 calories or so in each meal. I eat every 2-3 hours and drink about a gallon or more of water a day. A GALLON?! Yes, a gallon. And yes, I pee a lot.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to have breakfast! Eating within one hour upon waking is what jumpstarts your metabolism. Try drinking a 12 oz. glass of water first; apparently that aids in fat loss when you drink it on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. My breakfast usually includes egg whites (protein), oatmeal and berries (carbs), andnatural peanut butter (fats) – oh, and my coffee with two Splenda, Stevia, or Truvia. I don’t eat this every single morning. I do switch up my meals, but I make sure to include the same amount of proteins, fats, carbs, and calories to keep it consistent.

A couple hours later you can find me chomping on a protein bar (Pure Protein is the best!) with a side of some fat-free cottage cheese OR I’ll substitute that with a protein shake (Gaspari Nutrition’s Myofusion is delicious!) and some berries.

Two to three hours after that meal I’ll have some tuna (Starkist Chunk Light Tuna in a bag) along with some green beans or rice cakes or both.

Later, I’ll have some fat-free cottage cheese with some almonds.

I’ll probably have some chicken with green beans by this time.

I’ll take my pre-workout drink and head to the gym. Immediately after working out I fill up my water bottle and throw in some protein powder and eat about 25 gummy bears. The gummy bears have high dextrose in it and replenish the glycogen levels in your body that you lost while working out.

About 1.5 hours or so later I’ll have a small salad with sugar-free dressing (Maple Groves from Hannaford) and a 6oz. piece of protein (bison, chicken, tuna, etc.). If a couple hours go by and I’m not in bed yet and I’m hungry, I’ll down a protein shake (mixed with just water) about an hour before I head to bed.

So, in a nutshell, that’s what I tend to eat. As far as cheat meals, I do have them, of course! I’m not training for a competition (yet) so I’m not being super strict with my diet. I’m still allowing myself to enjoy my cheat foods. Now usually cheat meals within the bodybuilding world consists of healthy cheat foods like a wheat pizza with sugar-free sauce and light cheese. I might do that from time to time, but it always tastes better to get a Five Guys burger or a slice of pizzainstead. As of right now I’d like to say my clean eating diet is about 80/20, which isn’t too bad. Come competition diet, it’ll be back to 100% like it was from January to April.

If you’re struggling with weight, just be mindful of what you’re consuming. Be mindful of your portion controls. When you look at a plate, divide it into three sections: proteins, fats, and carbs. Make one-half of your plate filled with veggies and the other half split into your proteins and fats. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help with cravings and being hungry, too. If you find that you’re hungry in between meals, just reach for water or green tea or coffee. Wait 15 or 20 minutes and see if that’s satisfied your hunger. Mind over matter.

The diet is the absolute hardest part! When starting my clean diet for the first time, the first two weeks were hell! I was constantly texting and calling my nutritionist (Michelle) and trainer (Jamie) about how hard it was and that I thought I was going to die. Once I got past those two weeks and had the support of them, I was fine. Just look for things that will keep you motivated and focused. Work with a good support system and surround yourself with others who have similar goals in mind. When you’re around others who are out eating pizza and drinking beer all the time, it’s hard to maintain a good diet. It can be done, but you might be teased for it and under lots of temptation.

If it’s easier for you, you can do like I do and get a routine down. I usually buy my groceries on Saturday and cook and prep all my food for the week on Sundays. I put all of Monday’s food in a gallon freezer bag and toss it in the freezer until I’m ready to take it out and enjoy what’s in there. I do the same thing with Tuesday-Friday’s food, too. It’s easy and keeps me from spending money on food and from eating something that isn’t that great for me.

I hope these tips/suggestions/ideas help. If you have any questions, please ask and I’ll try my best to answer them!


  1. Hey Magen,
    Not sure if youve tried this before but I find mixing chocolate protein powder in with my oatmeal and adding a serving of fruit; strawberries, raspberries, blueberries or banana slices. It's delicious if you use the right kind of protein of course. I use EAS chocate. Yummy breakfast!

  2. YES! I've tried that and I love that!! So delicious.