Calculating macros is a method of nutritional tracking that allows you to learn more about food composition. It teaches you what is a protein, a carb, and a fat. It teaches you how to eat the foods you want and love while keeping your calories in check so you do not each too much more than you should. The biggest lesson when it comes to tracking macros is it teaches you that there is no “good” and “bad” food, rather, food runs on a spectrum — food you should eat more of and food you should eat less of. Ultimately, it teaches you to diet without hating it.
This is important because there are many “diets” out there promising you the same thing but the truth is all diets work so long as they maintain a calorie deficit and it’s sustainable over a long period of time.
Heck – I remember watching the news in the 90s and seeing all the rage about the Atkins diet and Weight Watchers and Lucille Roberts and while they may “work” (due to extreme caloric deficits), they teach you nothing. This isn’t even just my wording. Clients have done it before joining me and this is what they’ve told me.
You finally get a point where you’re tired of wasting money on stuff you don’t need and you need to start making lasting changes.
You want to keep the weight off, look great, feel even better, have better health markers, and get off your medications if possible all while not resorting to extreme and drastic measures.
If we’re honest, you don’t need more.
You don’t need to buy more food.
You don’t need to buy more supplements.
You don’t need to buy more juices.
You don’t need to buy more probiotics.
You don’t need to buy more, more, more.
You need less.
You need to eat less food.
You need to drink less alcohol.
You need to drink less sugary drinks (like regular juice, soda, and your favourite smoothie).
If you are not going to track your calories/macros, that’s ok but if you still want to start losing the weight, in conjunction with weight training/cardio, you need to:
eat more lean protein (see graphic below)
eat more vegetables (whole, not as juices)
use less oil when preparing food
use more spices and low-calorie condiments
keep highly delicious foods out of the house
cut alcohol consumption (yes, including wine)
If you are ready to take it up a notch and want to really take over your food, I already know your next question – “How?”
“How do I figure out my macros?”
Well – HERE IS EXACTLY HOW I DO IT FOR CLIENTS AND HOW YOU CAN DO IT FOR YOURSELF!
First, let me start you off with a couple of resources you’ll find useful from this point forward:
Step 1: Figuring out your estimated maintenance calories.
There are several ways to figure it out. There are 3 that I have used and still like to use.
The Easy Method
Bodyweight x 13-15kcals
Ex: 150lbs x 13-15 = 1950-2250kcals
Now the next two methods assume you are using an activity multiplier.
Using an activity multiplier only works if you find out your estimated basal metabolic rate (BMR)
When using an activity multiplier, you are multiplying your estimated BMR by this activity multiplier. This is purely an educated guess. You have to adjust as time goes on and that’s ok so relax if you don’t get it right at first.
There are two ways I like to find BMR:
The MNU Method
I actually learned this one from Martin McDonald on his IG video. I tested it with other methods and well, he knows what he’s talking about because the calorie ranges all fell within around 100kcals of each other.
The average man burns around 24kcals/hour at rest. The average woman burns around 22kcals/hour at rest.
Men – Your bodyweight in kilograms (kg) x24
Women – Your bodyweight in kilograms (kg) x22
*If you use pounds, divide your weight by 2.2 to get your weight in kilograms.
Example: 150/2.2 = 68kg.
Men – 68kg x 24 = 1632kcals (estimated BMR)
Women – 68kg x 22 = 1496 (estimated BMR)
The Katch-McArdle Method
This one requires you to have an idea of your lean mass.
BMR (men and women) = 370 + (21.6 X lean mass in kg)
Weight 150lbs with a bodyfat % of 30%
150 x 30% = 45lbs fat (105lbs lean mass [47.7kg])
BMR = 370 + (21.6 X 47.7)
BMR = 1400kcals
Step 2: Now that we’ve figured out the BMR, it’s time to multiply it by an activity multiplier
Who uses is
Sedentary (little to no training)
1.3 - 1.4
Weight training 3-4 days, sedentary work/home life
1.5 - 1.6
Weight training 4-6 days, moderate activity at home/work
1.7 - 1.8
Weight training 6-7 days, lots of activity outside the weight room including at work and home
Long, daily training – sports – endurance athletes
Now that we have an activity multiplier, choose one that best represents you and multiply your BMR by that number.
Example: You train 5 days/week and are moderately active outside the gym.
1400kcals * 1.5 = 2100kcals.
This would be your estimated maintenance calories.
Step 3 – Determine your intake for your goal!
I know I speak a lot about fat loss but I LOVE all physique goals and I encourage you to consider putting on muscle, too!
Let’s start there.
Once you determine your maintenance calories, you will need to be a caloric surplus to put on muscle. This will add weight (water and fat). You will want to keep the fat gain minimal so don’t eat in a huge surplus. To start:
Men – Maintenance calories + 175-225kcals
Women – Maintenance calories + 150-175kcals
I’ve read plenty in terms of how big to set the deficit.
What I do for 90% of my clients is set it between 20-30% deficit.
If someone is extremely overweight/obese, it’s possible to go up to 50% deficit (this is again, in extreme cases).
NOTE: If you train A LOT, your deficit from food should not be large. If you are outputting a lot through exercise, your deficit will be sizable enough that you do not need to create a large deficit by cutting food. The goal of fat loss is to eat the most amount of food while maintaining a deficit.
Once you determine your calorie intake for your goal, you’ll start getting into the details of how much protein, carbs, and fat.
Protein = 1g protein = 4kcals
See the next graphic:
The leaner you are, the more protein you would shoot for and vice versa.
If you have a problem with overeating, you may want to shoot for the higher end of protein as well as it’s the most satiating macronutrient meaning you will feel full faster.
Protein is needed for muscle repair and building and that’s one of the main reasons why you eat it.
Now, I can end the post right here because in fact, when protein and calories are matched, it does not matter if you have more carbs and less fat or more fat and fewer carbs.
That said, while it doesn’t matter, you should intake at a minimum, the lowest dietary fat recommendations (if you don’t like a lot of fat) [like yours truly]).
Fat is needed for your hormones and cell functions. It keeps your immune system in check. It makes food taste fantastic and what tends to give it texture. It’s also energy storage.
Fat intake at a minimum is 25-35% of total calorie intake (and can get even higher).
For example: if a person is eating 1400, the range is 38-54g of fat
Whatever calories are remaining after protein and fat are set is given to carbs (4kcals per 1g).
Let’s create a scenario and bring this home
If a person eats 1400kcals for fat loss.
They have 120g of protein and 45g of fat
120 * 4 = 480kcals
45 * 9 = 405kcals
480 + 405 = 885.
1400 – 885 = 515/4 = 128.75 (rounded to 130g carbs).
This person would then track in MFP and hit their protein and calories primarily but if they really were looking to be regimented by creating a meal plan, they’d hit their carbs and fat on point.
So there you have it – how to calculate your intake so you can start seeing your results whether it’s to look great, feel great, get off meds (hopefully), or a mix of them all.
This is the exact way I do nutrition for my clients.
You don’t need to take drastic measures. You need to have a direction and a tiny bit of discipline.
That said, if you do as I’ve stated above, you’re nutrition is about to get a whole lot better.
If you find this daunting or you need the accountability and know you can’t do this on your own, read more about my coaching services, apply, and let’s see if we make a great match.