Macros: It’s not really a “new” thing but kind of. It’s a diet or way of eating rather, called “if it fits your macros” IIFYM or FLEXIBLE dieting, that’s become popular. It’s also called tracking your macronutrients (macros) to manipulate fat loss and weight gain but most importantly for BODY COMPOSITION.
I’m sure you’ve all heard of fitness competitors eating high amounts of protein to gain muscle. This is part of counting “macros”. There are 4 macronutrients but usually we are only talking about the big 3. Protein, carbohydrates and fats. The other is Alcohol. Each has its own unique number of kilocalories per gram.
Protein & carbs have 4 calories per gram
Fats have 9 calories per gram
Alcohol has 7 calories per gram.
In order to manipulate fat loss macros need to be in a certain balance. For example if you eat a high fat|high carb diet with low protein your more likely to have more fat in unwanted places. Fats are high in calories, although essential in the right amounts.
When it comes to losing fat and gaining lean muscle your going to want to have a higher protein|carb diet and one lower in fat. Some say that high protein|high fat is better for weight loss, and sure it can be if you’re a sedentary person but for someone who works out and gets active carbs are life! Its’ how you will have the energy to sustain those tough workouts and active lifestyle. Not to mention carbs are much tastier in my opinion.
So now that you know what it is, does it work and how can YOU track your macros?
If you’re a person who likes to track food and count numbers or maybe you don’t but you need somewhere to start to get a base of HOW to EAT, this is for you and YES it does work!
This is more diverse than most diets and can be more flexible but a little more tedious considering you’re tracking all your food.. To me, it can get annoying tracking and counting everything you eat. But there are apps that make it easier like MyFitnessPal. You can adjust the macros to your preference.
This makes fat loss/muscle gain spot on for YOU, and not the “average”.
First you’ll need to find out your calorie range by entering your information into a calculator for your basal metabolic rate. You’ll want to use one of two; the Katch-Mcardle BMR calculator but for that you’ll need to know your body fat percentage.
There are various ways to get it, the easiest is body fat calipers, you can go to your gym and ask a personal trainer to do this for you. Other methods are less reliable or more expensive.
Another calculator you can use is the Harris-Benedict calculator which doesn’t require BF%.
They will give you about the same results give or take a few. Both can be easily found online.
Now, there’s debate on what the best percentages are for each macronutrient, but I think after much research and personal experience that it comes down to your goals and activity level once again. If you’re weight lifting/strength training plus cardio you need more protein and carbs.
Here’s the difference getting your macros right ( and exercise of course) can make
It’s not like a huge drastic change but you can tell that i toned up a lot, which means I lost body fat. Although if you can believe it I weigh the same in both pictures. The scale isn’t everything! I wish you could see the armpit and back in the photo on the right because it’s much more toned than in the left photo!
My Advice Is:
.8- 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight or about 25-30% protein, (this depends on your calories goals) 25-30% fats and 45-50% carbohydrates. For example If you’re eating 1700 calories a day with 50% carbs- 200 grams, 25% protein- 100 grams, 25% fat- 45 grams. You’d enter your food in based on grams and at the end of the day you should be very close to these numbers. Percentages don’t always work, say if you’re a guy trying to “bulk up”. Sometimes the protein is too high at 30% that’s why you’d fall back to the .8 -1 gram per pound of body weight, and adjust after that.
How do you know how many calories based off your Basal metabolic Rate(BMR)? I’ll use myself as an example. My BMR is about 1456 calories (not pregnant). This is the number that my body should burn each day on its own with no extra work. You have to remember that these are calculations and are NOT always right, but its a good place to start.
So if I want to lose fat I have to burn more calories than I take in. A good workout will burn 300-500 calories and if you’re doing a lot of walking you can burn more. But let’s just make it simple and calculate an estimate of your TDEE or total daily energy expenditure. Here are the standard Harris-Benedict multipliers.
To determine your total daily calorie needs, multiply your BMR by the appropriate activity factor, as follows:
If you are sedentary (little or no exercise) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.2
If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.375
If you are moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.55
If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.725
If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.9″
On the average day, I fall into the “moderately active” category. I work on my computer often, but I workout 5 days a week and walk a lot. So we multiply my BMR of 1456 x1.55 which equals out to 2,256. Meaning, I could eat that many calories each day (in theory) and not gain weight or lose it.
Now if I wanted to lose weight, than I’d need to eat less than that by a few hundred calories. I say cut about 500 calories a day off of that for a good start, and manipulate from there based on the results you are seeing. That would be 2256- 500 = 1756. Basically I’d follow the macronutrients from the example on the last page. I don’t recommend anyone eat less than 1200 calories ever. Metabolic slowdown is a real suck fest.
Don’t get too crazy with the cutting. Instead be patient and realize that losing weight in a healthy way takes time.
If you’re wondering, no, I don’t currently track my macronutrients. I have before and for several months but I figured out what’s best for me and tracking everything wasn’t it. It made me a little too obsessive and I worried about what I was going to eat next which was counter productive. Now, I go off of the way I feel and I pretty much have it down intuitively how much I should eat.
Also and VERY IMPORTANT! Most of your macros should come from HEALTHY foods! Not junk food!