When it comes to achieving your goal in the gym the results are dependent on mainly 2 variables; 20% of it is actually training, but 80% of it is diet. If your body is not receiving the adequate amount of not only total calories, but also adequate amounts of each macro nutrient from where those calories come from, you can be missing out on major results. That's why we wanted to get started by briefly breaking down everything you need to know about macros and even give you access to our extremely helpful calculators that will do the work for you!
What Are Macros?
"Macronutrient" is a word used to refer to any type of molecule our body can process to produce energy; aka anything that has calories. Calories are a measure of the energy contained in the food; the total calories per serving you see on the box of food you buy at the supermarket is dependent on the macronutrient makeup of that specific food source. There are 3 Different Types of Macronutrients:
Carbohydrates: can come as simple carbohydrates known as sugars(monosaccharides) or complex carbs (polysaccharides). They're all broken down into glucose, which is your bodies preferred source of energy and stores it as glycogen in your muscle tissue and liver. This makes carbs vital for building muscle and staying alert all day; each gram of carbs produces the energy equivalent to 4 calories.
Main Function: Primary Energy(ATP) Source
Protein: Proteins are chains of amino-acids who's main function is to supply the building blocks of almost everything in your body ranging from vital enzymes to tissues such as your skin and muscle. Your body prefers to not use proteins as an energy source but rather for breaking down into their individual amino-acids to be used to build different elements in your body. However, proteins still have the ability to be utilized by your body for energy and also yield 4 calories worth of energy per gram!
Primary Function: Provide Amino acids to build needed proteins (enzymes, Hormones, Collagen
Fats: Fats are your bodies secondary energy source, but are the most efficient. Your body prefers glucose over fat because while your storage of excess fat not consumed is unlimited (why obesity can occur) your storage of glucose is. So your body will prefer to burn the macro it has limited storage of and keep the one it has unlimited room for. Fats contribute to many processes in the body and contain just more than double the amount of calories per gram at 9!
Main Function: Secondary energy source providing free-fatty acids, contribute to structural components (cell membranes, steroid-hormones, Etc)
So What is Counting Macros and How Do I Do It?
So, now that you know where your calories are coming from it's time to look at how you can use this to benefit you. Not only do you have to focus on the amount of calories you're eating total, but how much of each macro you need to achieve the goals you want without becoming catabolic in a cut or adding on unwanted fat during a bulk. Your Macro Calculation Should Be Based Off The Following Guidelines:
Figure Out How Many Calories You Burn A Day: Your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) is the total amount of calories you burn daily. It is based off several factors including age, height, weight, and activity level. In this first calculator you can find out how many calories you burn daily:
This Calculator Uses What is Known as The Mifflin Calculation. It is the most accurate calculation when body fat % is not known(compared to the Harris Benedict formula), however it is only available using the metric system but our calculator automatically converts it for you. The formula the calculator uses is as follows:
((10xWeight in Kg) + (6.25 Height in cm) - (5xAge in Years)+5) x (Activity Level) = TDEE
((10xWeight in Kg) + (6.25 Height in cm) - (5xAge in Years)-161) x (Activity Level) = TDEE
Activity Levels are Assigned As Follows:
Sedimentary (Does not Workout at all)=1.2
Light Activity: Does atleast one physical activity a day that burns around 200-500 calories= 1.375
Moderate Activity: Activity that burns around 500-800 calories daily= 1.55
Very Active: Intense Workouts Daily/ 5-6x a Week= 1.725
2. Adjust Your Caloric Intake Based On The Goal You Are Striving For:
We have built a calculator that will now allow you to adjust your TDEE to the amount of calories and macronutrient you should be consuming daily to reach your goal. If you want to just maintain you don't need to adjust your TDEE but we have provided multiple options to cater to your specific goal:
- TDEE calories will be increased by 15%.
- Carbs: 50% Protein: 30% Fat: 20%
- Best For: Those who care strictly about size and strength increases. Willing to put on some fat for more dramatic increases.
- TDEE Calories will be increased by 8%.
- Carbs: 50% Protein: 30% Fat: 20%
- Best For: Those still wanting to gain weight, size, and strength but want to negate excess fat storage as much as possible. Less dramatic increases but you remain more lean.
- TDEE calories will be reduced by 5%.
- Carbs: 50% Protein: 30% Fat: 20%
- Best For: Those who wish to lose body fat moderately but still maintain strength.
- TDEE calories will be reduced by 15%
- Carbs: 50% Protein: 30% Fat: 20%
- Best For: Those who have already gained some muscle and wish to cut body fat the fastest but strength may be slightly compromised.
This calculator will take your TDEE and either add (if you're increasing calories for a bulk) or subtract (if you're decreasing calories for a cut) whatever percent is related to your goal that you choose. It will then multiply that number by the percent of each macro to get the calories from each macro your diet requires, then divide each one of those calories by the calories per gram each macro provides. This may sound complicated but its really not!(but we did provide this calculator to make your life easier). However, it's always good to understand where all these numbers are coming from and how you can even tweak it to make it even more customized.
Check out this example calculation we provided below:
Let's say my TDEE is 2900 calories a day based on the calculations from the first step. However, I'm looking to gain muscle but still want to stay pretty shredded so I decide to Lean Bulk which, as stated above, involves an increase in calories by 8% which results in a new total daily value of:
Goal Based Calories Total: TDEE+(TDEEx(Calories Increase))=Target Intake 2900+(2900x.08)=3,132 calories
We now know are target intake and can calculate our individual macro intake by first multiply your target intake by the percent of each macro according to our goal:
Determining how Many Calories per Macro:
Target Intake x % of Macro= Calories per Macro
Carbs: 3,132 x .50= 1,566 calories
Protein: 3,132 x .30= 939.6 calories
Fat: 3,132 x .20= 626.4 calories
We Now Determine the Amount in Grams We Have To Consume Everyday, This is Where The Calories per Gram We Talked About Comes In:
Carbs(4 Calories per Gram): calories(from last Step)/calories per gram= grams 1,566/4= 391.5 grams per day
Protein(4 calories per gram): 939.6/4= 234.9 grams per day
Fat(9 calories per gram): 626.49/9= 69.61 grams per day
You Can Now Choose How Many Meals You Would Like To Eat A Day and Divide it By the Number to Determine each Macro per Meal You Need:
Say I Choose 5 Meals a Day:
Carbs: Grams per Day/# of Meals 391.5/5= 78.3g
Protein: 234.9/5= 46.98g
Fat: 69.61/5= 13.9g
It is important to also note that some people count macros but don't meal prep or plan out meals. They simply just track what they eat during the day making sure they haven't gone over their daily totals. However, this is less organized and can leave lopsided number towards then end of the day.
So How Do I Actually "Track" Them Based Off What I Eat?
Now This Is Where it Helps To Stay Organized and Have a Scale Ready to Weigh Some Foods That Don't Have a Predetermined Serving Size. Often measuring cups will works As Well First, Lets Look At How To Determine The Macros:
Serving Size: since you need to determine how many macros are in your meals you're going to have to get used to measuring out your food. This is done with either a scale in grams or ,for those that it applies to, a measuring cup. For this example it is macaroni you can measure out in a cup. Therefore, you would measure out your desired portion, or what you have allocated for this meal. It doesn't have to make up all your calories, feel free to work in how ever many different foods you want. Just make sure you're sticking to your numbers.
So for this example if I had 2 1/2 cups, I would have to log the following:
Fat: 12 x 2.5= 30g
Carbs: 31 x 2.5= 77.5g
Protein: 5 x 2.5= 12.5g
As you can see this would be a bad choice if I was planning on sticking to my per meal count we calculated above. However, as long as you're hitting your daily numbers it doesn't matter. It is definitely needed to use some short of way to log your macros to understand where you are in relation to your goals and even per meal. We will be releasing a downloadable version you can use shortly but you can even use your notepad in your phone, download one of the many apps, or even write in on paper. All you have to do is track each of the three macromolecules and hit your desired goal. Keep it simple; Use a chart like this to track you meal totals over the course of the day. Keep in mind that these are your meal totals though so you should still have something handy to add up each macro for everything you ate for that meal. Some foods you can always google the nutrition facts for as well, ex. apple. If I had an apple with this Mac N Cheese meal I would have to add the macros of the apple to the Mac N Cheese as well!
1. Have food on hand that is very heavy in 1 macro category. For example, you should have some sort of food that is pretty much all fat, a different one that's mostly all carbs, and one all protein. The reason for this is so you can adjust your intake at the end of the day according to your goals. Many times you might be pretty close to reach your goal for 1 or 2 of the 3 macros but be far behind in 1 category. This is when you can have some servings of this to help even it out.
Recommendations: Fat- add butter in/cottage cheese/regular cheese. Carbs: oatmeal, bread, pasta, carb supplement. Protein: protein powder/ shrimp.
2. Don't get overwhelmed. You probably won't hit your exact numbers when you're first starting because you do need to kind of feel it out as to how many servings of what you should be eating a day. Just keep working closer to hitting your numbers and watch the results happen. Chances are you weren't eating this well before so even if you don't hit your exact numbers you'll still be making progress
3.Make Adjustments As Needed. We provided you with the formulas and some understanding of how to calculate your numbers so you can use that to your advantage. Adjust your macro ratios based on what gets you closer to your goal. Keep these tips in mind: Carbs- Shift your diet to being more carb heavy when you're looking to gain strength and size the quickest. If you want to focus on building more lean muscle, you should shift your macros from fats to carbs. Cut back when trying to drop fat quick. Fats- Should be your lowest consumed macro (in grams+ except keto) always. Can be increased when bulking, but to remain lean most of your caloric increase should be allotted to carbs and protein. This number should be decreased the most in a cut. Protein- Best macro for lean muscle. The more calories you allocate to this macro (of your daily goal), the more lean gains you can expect to make. During a cut, calories of fat should be shifted to protein.