Today's "master class" post is intended to help give you 1) a basic understanding of macro-based nutrition and 2) help you develop your own long-term nutritional plan. These are two basic, but critical, steps toward getting the results using a flexible style.
Flexible eating offers freedom from many restrictive menus and diet plans regardless of your primary goal. Need to drop weight, gain weight, or maintain your weight? Macro-Based eating is the best way to go for long term results.
While seemingly complicated, this approach offers so much versatility, it's AMAZING!
In this post, I'll coach you through determining YOUR personal macro-nutrient numbers. However, I first want to mention why this style works so well.
I use the term "macro" to refer to macronutrients. Macronutrients include proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. It may also help to add fiber to the list, too. That's because fiber content can help determine the quality of carbohydrates you are eating. High fiber usually equals a better carb choice.
Each macronutrient ("Macros" for short) offers distinct benefits. Hence, the importance of getting enough of them and never omitting one (or more) of them from the mix. Interestingly, though, our body responds differently depending on macro intake variations. For example, long-distance runners may find their body responds better when they've eaten more carbs rather than less. While non-exercisers might do better consuming far fewer carbohydrates than their running counterparts.
Tactical Planning and tracking of your macros will allow you to get STRATEGIC when choosing what foods you would like to eat and when to best eat them while striving for your particular fitness goal(s).
It prevents "guestimating" by providing you actual, measurable numbers on the foods you're fueling your body with.
COACHING NOTE #1: Do yourself a favor and get an online food journal to help you do keep track. If you're one of my clients, you've already got one built into our JAOfitness App. However, there are lots of other resources online like MyFitnessPal, Cronometer, or FitBit's food journal. Trust me, they will save you plenty of time and frustration in the long run.
DETERMINING YOUR MACRO NUMBERS:
STEP #1: Identify your "daily target calorie intake amount" (aka Total Daily Energy Expenditure, or TDEE) since all remaining macros calculations will depend on this number.
For simplicity, I've linked a decent resource for you to try here: https://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html
STEP #2: Once your TDEE is determined, the next step is to decide the amounts of each MACRONUTRIENT you need to consume to reach your goal.
Protein: This macronutrient has been dubbed the building block of life. It helps build, repair, and maintain your body's lean muscle. It also requires metabolic energy to digest. So, the more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn, typically.
Protein can also be the most satiating of the macronutrients. It can keep you feeling full long after you've eaten it. A general recommendation to shoot is to have protein account for 10% to 35% of your daily calorie intake.
COACHING NOTE #2: If you are someone who works out frequently and with intensity or is seeking to gain muscle mass, protein intake on the higher end of the recommended spectrum has been considered most beneficial. Especially when it comes to physical recovery.
Fat: This macronutrient is vital to maintaining physical health. Among The many physiological processes it's used for, fat best assists the body in converting and transporting the various vitamins and minerals found in our foods. It's been recommended that we consume fats at an average of 20% to 35% of our total daily energy expenditures.
Carbohydrates: Lastly, carbohydrate intake amounts should take up any remaining percentage amounts of your TDEE. It's been recommended that we consume an average of 45% and 65% of our total daily calories in the form of complex carbohydrates.
Fiber: While not a calorie containing macronutrient, fiber may still be a component worthy of tracking. Fiber not only can help gut health, and improve satiety, but it has been considered to aid in the prevention of certain cancers. Daily fiber intake recommendations fall between 25 to 30 grams (preferably from food sources) regardless of your total daily energy expenditure.
HERE'S AN EXAMPLE: Let's assume that you need roughly 2,000 calories a day to reach your goal of losing fat while maintaining muscle, and you exercise roughly 4-5 days per week. Initially, you may have chosen to break that calorie count into the following macronutrient amounts: 30% proteins, 25% fats, and 45% carbohydrates.
Your daily macronutrient calorie breakdown would look something like this:
Protein at 600 calories (30% x 2000 = 600)
Fats 500 at calories (25% x 2000 = 500)
Carbohydrates at 900 calories (45% x 2000 = 900)
Looking at it this way makes the process straightforward, but there is more to consider here than just your calorie targets. Most macro-based eating plans further separate those macronutrient calorie targets into grams.
Working in grams can help your nutritional calculations become more precise. The math involved is relatively simple if you remember that ...
4 calories of protein = 1 gram
4 calories of carbohydrates = 1 gram
9 calories of fats = 1 gram
Now, to determine your gram totals, you must divide your individual macronutrient calorie requirements by the corresponding gram number.
After converting our above example into gram requirements, you would find that you need:
150 grams of protein a day (600 cal protein ÷ 4 = 150g)
55 grams of fat a day (500 cal fat ÷ 9 = 55g)
225 grams of carbs a day (900 cal carbs ÷ 4 = 225g)
Once you calculate your macros, your initial work is DONE! (The REAL work is following the plan you've just created)
I choose to follow a set macronutrient breakdown for an average of 4 to 6 weeks initially. This affords me the time to observe how my body responds to those number. From there, I can adjust my numbers a bit if results stall or I feeling unusually tired, weak, or hungry.
If this post has left you confused and questioning how to assemble the pieces into actionable steps once you've calculated your numbers, rest easy.
In my next post, I'll use a step-by-step approach to simplify how you can effectively use your macronutrient numbers in creating your personal eating plan!
Or, if you can't wait, you can sign up for my free Metabolic Jumpstart Challenge below. :)