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Master Your Macros: A Step-by-Step Nutrition Roadmap

Are you ready to take control of your nutrition and fitness journey? If you've ever wondered why some people seem to effortlessly achieve their health and fitness goals while others struggle, the answer may be in the macros. Macros, short for macronutrients, play a pivotal role in shaping your body, fueling your workouts, and achieving your desired physique.


In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the world of macros, break down their importance, and equip you with the knowledge and tools needed to make informed dietary choices. From understanding what macros are to calculating and tracking them effectively, this blog will be your roadmap to success on your fitness journey.

macros, calculate, protein, carbs, fat

What are Macros?

Before we delve into the intricacies of tracking and calculating macros, let's begin by understanding the fundamentals. "Macros" is the abbreviated term for macronutrients, which encompass three vital components: protein, carbohydrates, and fats.


Proteins: Proteins are the building blocks of your body. They are crucial for repairing and building muscle tissue, supporting the immune system, and maintaining various bodily functions. Sources of protein include lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, and plant-based options like beans and tofu. Click here for a more in depth list of protein sources.

  • U.S. dietary guidelines recommend that 25 to 35% of total daily calorie intake should come from protein.

  • Persons focused on strength training, like bodybuilders or powerlifters, often benefit from a higher protein intake to support muscle repair and growth. Aim for 0.8 to 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

Carbohydrates: These are your body's primary source of energy. They come in two forms: simple carbs (found in sugars and processed foods) and complex carbs (found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains). Carbs provide quick energy and are essential for daily activities and high-intensity workouts.

  • U.S. dietary guidelines recommend that 45 to 65% of total daily calorie intake should come from carbohydrates with added sugars representing less than 10% of total caloric intake. Dietary fiber, from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, is essential for digestive health. On average, women should try to eat at least 21 to 25 grams of fiber a day, while men should aim for 30 to 38 grams a day

  • Persons focused on endurance training, such as runners or cyclists, require a higher percentage of carbohydrates in their diet to fuel aerobic activity. These carbs provide the energy needed for sustained performance.

Fats: Fats are essential for overall health and function. They help absorb fat-soluble vitamins, regulate hormones, and provide a source of long-term energy. Healthy fat sources include avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and fatty fish like salmon.

  • U.S. dietary guidelines recommend that 20 to 35% of total daily calorie intake should come from fats with most of that being derived from unsaturated fats. Saturated fats should represent less than 10% of total caloric intake.

  • Active persons focused on long-duration sports and/or cardiovascular training will require a higher percentage of fat to maintain and replenish energy.

Understanding the roles of these macronutrients in your body is key to optimizing your nutrition and achieving your fitness goals. So, whether you're aiming to go the distance or build strength, careful macro meal planning is the key to reaching your athletic potential.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the world of macros, break down their importance, and equip you with the knowledge and tools.

Tracking Methods

Now that you have a grasp of what macros are, let's move on to the next step: tracking your specific macro needs. There are several methods to track your ideal macronutrient ratios, but two of the most common approaches are the percentage method and the specific gram targets.


Percentage Method: This method involves allocating a percentage of your daily calorie intake to each macronutrient. For example, one may choose 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 30% fat.


Specific Gram Method: This method involves allocating a percentage of your daily calorie intake to each macronutrient and converting them into grams based on each percentage.


(Daily Calorie Intake x (Percentage x 100)) / calories per gram


For example, one has chosen 30% protein, 40% carbohydrates, and 30% fat with a 2,200 total daily caloric intake.

  • Protein (4g/calorie): 2200 x 0.30 = 660 calories → 660 / 4 = 165 grams of protein

  • Carbs (4g/calorie): 2200 x 0.40 = 880 calories → 880 / 4 = 220 grams of carbs

  • Fat (9g/calorie): 2200 x 0.30 = 660 calories → 660 / 9 = 73 grams of fat

tracking macros

Tracking your macros accurately is crucial for making progress toward your health and fitness goals. Fortunately, there are various tools and apps available to help you stay on track. Some popular choices include MyFitnessPal, Cronometer, LifeSum, LoseIt!, MyMacros+, MyPlate, and Nutritionix.


Here are some tips for successful macro tracking:

  • Read Food Labels: Get into the habit of checking nutrition labels to understand the macronutrient content of foods.

  • Kitchen Scale: Invest in a kitchen scale to measure portions accurately.

  • Plan Ahead: Plan your meals and snacks in advance to meet your daily macro targets.

  • Be Consistent: Consistency is key. Try to hit your macro targets consistently over time to see results.

  • Educate Yourself: Learn which foods are rich in each macronutrient to make informed choices.


Calculating Your Macros

Your macro targets are based on your daily caloric intake, your activity level, and should evolve with your fitness goals. Here's how to adjust them based on your objectives:


STEP 1: Calculate Your Basal Metabolic Rate

Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the the number of calories you burn for your body to perform it's necessary daily functions such as breathing, digesting, pumping blood, etc. This can be calculated with the math equation below or measured with in person testing.

  • Biological Female: BMR = (9.99 x weight (kg)) + (6.25 x height (cm)) - (4.92 x age) - 161

  • Biological Male: BMR = (9.99 x weight (kg)) + (6.25 x height (cm)) - (4.92 x age) + 5

Female Example:

150 pounds - 5'6" feet tall (66 inches) - 35 years old

Step 1: Convert weight from pounds to kilograms by dividing pounds by 2.205

Step 2: Convert height from inches to centimeters by multiplying by 2.54

BMR = (9.99 x 68.03) + (6.25 x 167.64) - (4.95 x 35) - 161

BMR = 679.62 + 1047.75 - 172.2 + 161

BMR = 1,394 calories


Male Example:

206 pounds - 5'11" feet tall (71 inches) - 37 years old

Step 1: Convert weight from pounds to kilograms by dividing pounds by 2.205

Step 2: Convert height from inches to centimeters by multiplying by 2.54

BMR = (9.99 x 93.42) + (6.25 x 180.34) - (4.95 x 37) + 5

BMR = 933.27 + 1127.13 - 183.15 + 5

BMR = 1,882 calories


STEP 2: Calculate Your Total Daily Energy Expenditure

Your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) is the total amount of energy you burn throughout the day in addition to your basal metabolic rate. This includes daily movement, exercise, cleaning, walking, eating, etc.

  • Sedentary = Little to no exercise and a desk job

  • Lightly Active = Exercise 1-3 days per week and a desk job

  • Moderately Active = Exercise 3-5 days per week plus additional daily movement

  • Very Active = Heavy exercise 6-7 days per week

  • Extremely Active = Heavy exercise 6-7 days per week and a high movement job

Activity Level

​Total Daily Energy Expenditure

Sedentary

BMR x 1.2

Lightly Active

BMR x 1.375

Moderately Active

BMR x 1.55

Very Active

BMR x 1.725

Extremely Active

BMR x 1.9

Example:

A woman has a BMR of 1,394 calories and is moderately active. Her TDEE = 1394 x 1.55 = 2,161 calories


STEP 3: Calculate Your Daily Caloric Intake

Your daily caloric intake is the amount of calories you should consume based on your total daily energy expenditure and your goals. This can be calculated with the steps below:

  • Lightly Active = Exercise 1-3 days per week and a desk job

  • Moderately Active = Exercise 3-5 days per week plus additional daily movement

  • Very Active = Exercise 6-7 days per week and a high movement job

​Weight (lbs) Multiplier

Lose Weight

Maintain Weight

Gain Weight

Lightly Active

​10-12x

12-14x

14-16x

Moderately Active

12-14x

14-16x

16-18x

Very Active

14-16x

16-18x

18-20x

Weight Loss - Lightly Active Example:

If you weight 150 pounds and are wanting to lose weight your daily caloric range would be 150x10 = 1500 to 150x12 = 1800. Giving you a daily caloric range of 1,500 to 1,800 depending on your TDEE. The final decision should be 500 calories lower than your total daily energy expenditure.


Maintain Loss - Moderately Active Example:

If you weight 150 pounds and are wanting to maintain weight your daily caloric range would be 150x14 = 2100 to 150x16 = 2400. Giving you a daily caloric range of 2,100 to 2,400 depending on your TDEE. The final decision should be equal to your total daily energy expenditure.


Weight Gain - Very Active Example:

If you weight 150 pounds and are wanting to gain weight your daily caloric range would be 150x18 = 2700 to 150x20 = 3000. Giving you a daily caloric range of 2,700 to 3,000 depending on your TDEE. The final decision should be 500 calories higher than your total daily energy expenditure.


STEP 4: Determine Your Daily Protein Intake

Protein is is critical in maintaining lean body mass, regulating hunger, and maintaining overall calorie intake. Daily protein intake varies depending on goals:

  • Standard: Aim for 0.5 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Stick to the lower end if you are less active and the higher end if you are more active.

  • Muscle Building: Aim for 0.8 to 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Stick to the lower end if your training is cardio focused and the higher end if your training is strength focused.

Example:

A 150 pound woman who is focused on building muscle and lifts weight 5x a week will aim for 1.2g of protein per body weight equating to a daily goal of 180g of protein. Protein is 4 calories per gram equating to 180 x 4 = 720 calories from protein. She has a daily calorie goal of 2,161 calories. 720 / 2161 = 0.33 → 0.33 x 100 = 33% of her total calorie goal will be focused on protein.


STEP 5: Determine Your Daily Fat Intake

Setting a daily fat target differs from protein in that it should be based on total calorie intake and body type

  • Endomorph: Endomorphs, characterized by a broad and thick physique, are naturally prone to storing fat, as such they may benefit from the lower end of the fat percentage range. Aim for around 20% of daily calories from fats to support your body's energy needs while managing fat storage.

  • Mesomorph: Mesomorphs, characterized by a muscular and athletic build, may benefit from from the middle of the fat percentage range. Aim for around 25-30% of your daily calories to fats to maintain balanced nutrition.

  • Ectomorph: Ectomorphs, characterized by a lean and slender physique, may benefit from the upper end of the fat percentage range. Aim for around 35% of daily calories from fats to help provide extra energy and support hormone function.

Example:

A 150 pound woman who is a mesomorph wants to aim for 28% of her 2,161 daily calorie goal for her fat intake. 2161 x 0.28 = 605 calories from fat → 605 calories / 9 grams = 67g of fat daily.


STEP 6: Determine Your Daily Carbohydrate Intake

Carbohydrates can be set based on the remaining calories left after protein and fat goals are established. Carbohydrate calories = total daily calories – protein calories – fat calories


Example:

Using the same woman from the previous examples with a daily caloric goal of 2,161.

Carbs = 2161 total daily calories - 720 protein calories - 605 fat calories

Carbs = 836 calories → 836 calories / 4 grams = 209g of carbs daily


STEP 7: Track and Adjust

It's crucial to remember that these are general guidelines, and individual factors play a significant role in determining the ideal macros. Factors such as metabolism, genetics, and personal preferences should also be considered. Listen to your body's signals, monitor how different ratios affect your energy levels and overall well-being, and adjust accordingly.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the world of macros, break down their importance, and equip you with the knowledge and tools.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

As you embark on your macro tracking journey, watch out for common pitfalls:

  • Neglecting Micronutrients: Don't focus solely on macros. Ensure you're also getting a variety of vitamins and minerals from whole foods.

  • Overcomplicating: Keep it simple. You don't need to obsess over every gram; aim for consistency over perfection.

  • Guessing: If you feel like you are guessing when going through the above steps, are unsure about your ideal macros, or have specific health concerns, we are here to help you get started on your journey.

macros, meal planning, protein, carbs, fat

Macro Fueled Meal Planning

Macro meal planning based on timing and activity level is essential to support the specific needs of each person. Here is a guide to use when putting together meals to fuel and replenish your body.

​2-4 hours

before exercise

​30-120 minutes

before exercise

​0-90 minutes

after exercising

Endurance Training

​Complex carbs (0.5-2g/lb)

>20g of lean protein

Low Fat

20 oz of water

High simple carbs

>10g of lean protein

Low Fiber - Low Fat

5-10 oz water​

Complex carbs (0.25-2g/lb)

>20g of lean protein

16-24 oz of water>​

Strength

Training

>30g of lean protein

Complex carbs (0.25-1g/lb)

Low Fat

20 oz of water​

High simple carbs

>10g of lean protein

Low Fiber - Low Fat

5-10 oz water​

>30g of lean protein

Complex carbs (0.25-1/lb)

16-24 oz of water​

Time To Experiment!

Congratulations! You've taken the first steps toward mastering your macros and taking control of your nutrition and fitness journey. By understanding what macros are, calculating your specific needs, tracking them diligently, and making macro-friendly meal choices, you are well on your way to achieving your health and fitness goals.


Remember, this journey is about progress, not perfection. Stay consistent, listen to your body, and be open to adjusting your macros as your goals evolve. With dedication and informed choices, you can create a healthier, fitter version of yourself. Start today and take the first step toward a balanced and macro-savvy lifestyle! If you are still feeling a bit lost, don't worry we are here to help you get started on your journey!

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