You’re doing your food wrong-Let’s learn how to set up Macros

Food and calorie management-How to set up your Macros

The most fascinating of all topics. This was my biggest learning curve. Grinding at the gym daily and not following a proper diet was a classic of sorts I would do. My mantra was, as long as I am working out, I am healthy. Diet was always insignificant. I had no clue about how much protein to eat or what exactly are good carbs vs not so good carbs. As long you don’t eat fried and much of food outside, its fine. For me, hitting weights is most important, so grind at the gym and eat whatever the hell you want. What most people don’t understand is that the physique is a byproduct of the healthy lifestyle. Healthy living includes exercise, the right nutrition and learning how to control your environment. All of this collectively will lead to a champion physique.

Now, what are macronutrients?

Macronutrients are made up of protein, carbohydrates and fats. This is what you consume in a particular day. You also consume micronutrients like minerals and vitamins, which essentially come from macros or you could supplement the same additionally. Let’s keep that for another article.

All of the macros are made up of calories.

One gram of protein has 4 calories

One gram of carbohydrate has 4 calories

And one gram of Fat has 9 calories

You need to set up your macros differently for a weight gain or a weight loss program.

Now do we really need to count our macros? Well, the short answer is yes and no. Let’s understand this.

Professional bodybuilders and fitness models will measure their food wherever they go without worrying about their environment. Their profession demands strict monitoring of nutrition. We obviously can’t do that. You can’t go to a restaurant carrying a food scale. Having said that, in my experience counting macors is the best approach for your fat loss or muscle building goals. I will teach you how to do this and will recommend to practice it initially. Then, with time we will learn how to eyeball our portions which will be more or less accurate. Once you have learnt how to master this all you need is a plan. That’s it.

First we need to understand what basal metabolic rate and maintenance calories are. As I have touched on this in one of my previous articles. Let me attach a link just in case you missed it. Have a read while I finish a meal.

Ok, now, am I overdoing it here? Hmm —-some might think…. what the hell! If you want to eat, go eat, why put it here for us. Well, the point I am trying to make is that timing your meals is equally important and it plays a major role when it comes to transforming your physique.Was I hungry or I just ate ‘cause I had to eat? Well, both. Overtime I have understood calorie management and know how many calories my body needs in a day to maintain or lose bodyweight.  And, as I eat frequently my metabolic rate is high which means my potential to burn calories is more efficient than an average person who is not so active. As a result of this I get hungry every couple of hours. This is the way I plan my nutrition. You could choose a different approach. Just understand your maintenance calories and stick to the weight loss or weight gain macros. (Will tell you the calculation for both)

Based on your transformation goal, you can eat 5 -6 small meals or 3 decent size meals a day, just ensure you’re meeting your total caloric requirement. It’s true that eating smaller meals every 3-4 hours helps to improve your metabolism and is the best approach, however, it’s not always possible to accomplish this. In my view, meeting the required amount of calories is more important. I try not to miss a meal. Just in case I do, I know how to compensate. Don’t worry we will cover that as well.

Now, as you went through my article on “fat loss” which includes understanding your basal metabolic rate and maintenance calories. We set up our macros differently for weight loss and muscle gain. Let’s touch weight loss first. My example

Weight in LBS BMR Maintenance Total Maintenance calories
165 10 1650 1.4 2310

 

My maintenance is 2300. To drop weight I have to drop my calories, we all understand that by now. The question is which food group to manipulate, protein, carbs or fat? Well the answer is, carbs. Why carbs? Read the article below to understand carbs and how it affects blood glucose levels.

 

To drop weight I will have to drop carbs. A good starting point is to drop 20 percent of your total carb consumption. At this rate, with an active life style I can potentially drop between 1 to 1.5 lbs a week. This is considered a steady and healthy rate of weight loss which will burn maximum fat and prevent muscle loss. Once you see the scale has stopped moving, drop another 30-50 grams and record for a few weeks. Now, you can certainly drop more than 20% and lose more weight at a faster rate. Like reduce 500 calories at one go. I would not recommend that as it could make you lose muscle mass as well.(remember carrying more muscle mass is better and helps to burn more body fat at rest-in case you missed it, go to my article on building a six pack with proper nutrition).

You will have to try and see how it works. All these methods are under ideal conditions so the results will be more or less accurate. Let me tell you there is no hundred percent formula. However, this is the most common and practiced approach and it has worked for most people. Over time you will learn how to make adjustments as and when required.

Once you know your maintenance macros, you can then manipulate your carb intake. See calculation below.

Let’s touch again on the calorie composition of each food group

One gram of protein has 4 calories

Once gram of carbohydrate has 4 calories

And one gram of Fat has 9 calories

Aim to eat

  1. One gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. Proteins are the building blocks of muscle and help us grow.
  2. Around 0.45-0.5 gms of fat per pound of bodyweight
  3. The remaining calories should come from carbs.

 

My maintenance is around 2300.

Weight in LBS BMR Maintenance Total Maintenance calories
165 10 1650 1.4 2310

 

Weight 165 lb multiplied by 10 multiplied by 1.4=2310 (since I work out around 5-6 days a week I lean on the 1.4 side. Based on your activity you will fall between 1.2-1.4, safest is in the middle.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maintenance Calories
A B C D E F
Food group BW Quantity Total grams(B*C) Cal/Gram CALORIES(D*E)  
Protein 165 1 gms/LB of BW 165 4 660
Fat 165 0.45gms/LB of BW 74 9 666
Carbs 165 1.5gm/LB of BW 243 4 974 2300

 

Now, my weight loss macros will be as follows.

  1. One gram of protein per pound of bodyweight
  2. Around 0.45-50 gms of fat per pound of bodyweight
  3. I will drop my carbs by 20% to start with and record that for a while.

 

 

 

Weight loss Macros          
To lose weight-drop your carbs by 20 percent (243*20%=50 gms)      
A B C D E F  
Food group BW Quantity Total grams(B*C) Cal/Gram CALORIES(D*E)  
Carbs 165 1.2 gm/lb of BW 4 198 792  
Earlier your carb intake was 243 grams now its 198 grams which is a drop of 45 grams, around 180-200 calories
Protein 165 1 gms/LB of BW 165 4 660
Fat 165 0.45gms/LB of BW 74 9 666 2118
Your total calories are 2118. This is a drop of 182 calories

 

I know all this might seem a bit overwhelming in the beginning, that’s ‘casue you’re just being introduced to calorie management. Although the math is elementary, what could be confusing is the food groups and their calorie composition. So go through it a few times and you will find it a piece of cake.  To ensure best results, there are a few guiding principles we must stick to.

  1. Calorie composition of the food group.
  2. Never eat below 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. Building blocks of muscle
  3. Keep your fats between 25-30 percent of total macros as they are high in Calories.(9 Grams/pound)
  4. To drop weight start with a 20 percent drop in carbs and monitor for a few weeks. As long as you’re dropping 1 to 1.5 LBs per week, you are doing well.
  5. Eat more of whole foods
  6. Try to eat every 3-4 hours. Will help to keep your metabolism high and burn calories faster.
  7. Every meal should consist of:

A source of protein

A source of slow digesting carb (brown rice, oats, quinoa etc.)

And healthy fats

 

  1. Try to drink roughly 3.5- 4 liters of water. Washes toxins and keeps you hydrated at all times. Trick, your green tea and other beverages can be counted here so you don’t need to worry.
  2. Drink 3-4 cups of green tea. Rich in antioxidant and has natural fat burning ability.
  3. When your activity level is the least during the day, (evening period for me), cut starchy carbs from your diet. You don’t need too many calories to function. You can have a portion of vegetables as your carb source in your last 2 meals of the day.
  4. Consuming fruits is fine,however, you should do the same during the day when you activity level is high. Fruits contain a particular sugar (fructose) which is better than table sugar, however, it is still a fat burning carb that needs to be burnt. Milk contains lactose another form of sugar and the same applies here. You want to burn body fat and not calories which are added by consuming the above. For best results, eliminate sugar completely from your diet. Keep it for your cheat days. (will touch cheat meals in another topic)

 

Food list for Non-vegetarians

Protein Carbs Vegetables Fats
Chicken breast Brown rice Spinach Flax seed
Sea food Whole wheat bread Mushroom Almonds
Egg white Sweet potato Tomato Nuts
Beans Oatmeal Lettuce Olive oil
Lean beef Quinoa Cabbage Coconut Oil
Cucumber Walnuts
Cauliflower Almond butter
Onion
Broccoli
Celery
Carrots
Beans

 

 

Protein source for vegetarian/eggitarian people.

 

  1. Egg whites
  2. Kidney beans
  3. Soy(eat in moderation)
  4. Paneer- if its homemade, make sure it’s from low fat milk
  5. Protein Powder- plenty of options in the market.

 

Now for weight gain, instead of dropping your carbs you need to increase it and follow the same method.

 

Look at the internet for information on quantity of protein, carbs or fats in the listed foods above, e.g. one whole egg has roughly 6.2 grams of protein, 100 grams of uncooked oats has 65 grams of carbs etc. With time I have learnt how to eyeball my portions. I have a fair idea as to what my standard protein, carbs and fats are like. E.g.one decent size chicken breast has around 35-40 grams of protein. One cup (roughly 200 grams) of brown rice has around 45-50 grams of carbs and so on and so forth. There are plenty of apps which help manage food. Myfitnesspal is a popular one.

 

Now, This will require hard work and dedication.I want to set the expectation right from the beginning.As explained earlier, there is no full proof method. Each one of us is made different. What works for me might not work for you and vice versa. However, this is by far the most tested and verified approach one can practice. Once you follow this religiously for a period of 8-12 weeks, I can guarantee you will see positive results. There will be visible difference in your body-fat levels as early as 2-3 weeks. Then, consistency is key. All the best and DM me in case you have questions.

 

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This Article Has 3 Comments
  1. Ali Asgar says:

    Excellent article mate …absolutely precise n to the point
    Good job
    Looking fwd to learn more from u
    Ali Asgar

  2. […] You’re doing your food wrong-Let’s learn how to set up Macros […]

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