Creating a diet from scratch using the four basic food groups

Hello everyone on the forum, hope you are doing well.

I’m very fond of the nutrition information found in classics like “Nutrition for Athletes” and “Bigger Muscles in 42 Days”. I found that using the four basic food groups (Meat, Dairy, Grains, and Fruits/Vegetables) makes it very easy to have a balanced diet.

Now, my question is, how do I determine the number and proportion of servings from each of the groups once I have a calorie and %s target? Especially, taking in consideration how the servings within each group differ in number of calories and macro %s.

For example, the 4:4:8:8 diet mentioned in “Bigger Muscles in 42 Days” was made with a specific calorie target? Or is it a template? If so, how do I tweak it to hit my target?

Any insight will be appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

Find a copy of The Nautilus Nutrition Book. Another slightly known book, The No S Diet is a good read.

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Do you know your current caloric intake? If so, you simply increase to gain or decrease to lose.

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IMO, a precision diet with exact calories and grams of protein, etc. is not necessary. Eat about the ratio of portions, but you can increase the amount.

Steve Klein had a simple method of eating protein, starchy carbohydrates, and fibrous carbohydrates. Place a visual equal 1/3 protein, 1/3 starchy carbohydrates, and 1/3 fibrous carbohydrates on your plate.

I would recommend that you eat at least 4 meals a day, and probably 5. Eat “clean” food. Increase starchy carbohydrates to gain weight, and decrease starchy carbohydrates to lose weight.

In order to gain muscle you should be consuming close to one gram of protein for every pound of body weight. Always eat some fats, especially essential fatty acids.


Hey everyone, thanks for the responses.

I’ll check on the Nautilus Nutrition Book.

Meanwhile, here is my current meal plan, with a sample day:

1 Dairy - 1 cup milk
1 Meat - 1 egg
2 Grains - Tortilla & Instant oatmeal
2 Fruit - Orange juice & 1/2 cup fruit

450 Kcals

1 Dairy - 1 cup milk
1 Meat - 100g Meat/chicken/fish
2 Grains - 1 cup rice
2 Fruit - 3 leaves lettuce & 1 apple

605 Kcals

1 Dairy - 1 cup milk
1 Fruit - peaches, canned

190 Kcals

1 Dairy - 1 cup milk
1 Meat - 100g de meat/chicken/fish
2 Grains - 1 cup rice
2 Fruit - 3 leaves lettuce & 1 banana

605 Kcals

Calories are between 1800-2200 (when adding oil, margarine, or other condiments). So I would call it maintenance, maybe with a slight deficit. Protein is at around 100g.

I want to gain a couple of kilos, so I’ve calculated my calorie requirement using the formula from “Nutrition and Athletic Performance”:

  • Estimate Basal Calorie need.
  • Add calories for activity
  • Add calories for the influence of food.
  • I’ve added a 300 Kcals surplus as I’m under 200lbs.

So now, I’ve a 3000 Kcals target. My macro percentages target are 55% carbs, 30% fat, and 15% protein.

Now, in one of the books there are sample diets but for different calorie targets. Example, 2500 Kcals:

Dairy - 3 cups
Meat - 5 ounces
Grains - 8 servings
Fruit and vegetables - 8 servings

As I have a different target, is there any way to know in advance how many servings from each group I need to hit my target while keeping the diet balanced?

On top of that, if someone wants to have variety in their diet, how to approach making substitutions as different servings have different amount of calories? Example, one egg to 3oz Beef. Both count as a servings, but have different Kcals and protein and gay content. Another example, 1 slice of bread and a serving of cooked rice, 70 Kcals vs 140 Kcals.
Does this means that if I make a substitution, I need to recalculate the # of servings for the rest of the day?

Thanks for all the help guys and gals!

I have found an ideal balance of about 85% meat and eggs, 15% dairy, 0% fruits/veggies and 0% grains