We all choose to exercise for different reasons, and we all have different goals and objectives in mind when it comes to our health, fitness, and well-being in general. With that being said however, one thing that does remain a constant, is the fact that you need to have your diet in check if you wish to reach your goals and objectives. For a lot of people, that means resigning yourself to the fact that you are going to have to eat salads, plain chicken breast, and other bland and boring foods for the next several weeks/months. This does not necessarily have to be the case however, as there is a tried and tested method of dieting which will allow you to be a great deal more flexible with your diet, and still lose weight, build muscle, become fitter, or anything else for that matter, and it all starts with macros.
What are macros? – Macros, or macronutrients, as they are known, are basically the three essential food groups that we need to consume every single day for optimal wellness. They are: fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, and they are essential for countless physiological processes within the human body, and truthfully, without macros, our bodies wouldn’t function at all. The great thing about macros however, is that you can manipulate them based upon your goals and targets. For example, you can tweak them to lose fat, to build muscle, or to achieve a combination of the two. Basically it is a tried and tested method of recognising the fact that not all calories are the same, and not all calories will be created equally. For example, 8g of carbohydrates will not be used by the body in the same was as 8g of proteins. There are 4 calories per gram of proteins and carbohydrates, yet for fat, there are 9 calories per gram. By counting our macros, we can be slightly more relaxed with our diets, by following an approach known as flexible dieting.
How to count your macros – Here is a rough guide designed to help you count and track your macro intakes:
Work out how many calories you need per day – To start with, work out how many calories your body requires for maintenance each day. You can do this by following rough government guidelines for men and women, or you can use an online tool to get a more reliable and accurate number.
Protein – Aim to consume between 1g and 1.5g of protein per day, per pound of bodyweight, depending on your goals and objectives. If you’re looking to burn fat and build muscle, aim for 1.5g, otherwise stick with 1g. Get the majority of your proteins from clean and healthy sources such as lean meat, fish, seafood, and organic eggs.
Carbohydrates – When it comes to working out carbohydrate intakes, base them upon your training schedule. We need carbs for energy and for recovery after we train, so on training days, ideally your carb intakes should be higher than on days when you don’t exercise. On training days, 2.5 – 3g of carbs per pound of bodyweight is advisable, otherwise, aim for between 1g and 1.5g of carbs per bodyweight on non-training days. Virtually all of your carbs should come from complex sources like: rice, pasta, potato, oats, and starchy vegetables.
Fats – Fats are incredibly important for us, even when we’re trying to lose weight, so going fat-free is never the answer. For optimal results however, you should adjust the amounts of healthy fats that you are consuming, based upon how many carbohydrates you are consuming. To work out how much fat you require, take the total amounts of protein and carbs required per day, multiply by four, and subtract this number from your daily caloric intake goals. The number you are left with is the amount of grams of fat you should consume each day. As there are 9 calories per gram of fat, you should then divide by 9, leaving you with the total amount of grams of fat required per day. So, if you weighed 200 pounds and required 2600 calories, you would require on average, 800g of protein and carbs. You then multiply this by 4, to give 3200. Take the 2600 and subtract it from 3200, giving you 600. Divide this by 9, to get 66.6, meaning you would need 66 – 67g of fat per day. On non-training days, carb intakes would be lower, and fat intakes would be slightly higher.