Ok let’s keep it simple as there’s a lot of fluff and complication out there.
How to calculate your nutrition macros. Here’s 5 simple steps to calculate your macro intake so you can use it to gain weight (muscle mass) or loose weight (get lean / ripped) whilst using a travel workout or home workout plan. Everyone is different and everyone has their own unique numbers. I learnt the huge benefit of calculating macros and flexible dieting from Nick Cheadle several years ago. It changed my understanding of fitness and nutrition hugely. Now I apply it to travelling with fitness living life out of a back pack to achieve my goals.
The best way to keep track of you macro intake is by using MyFitnessPal and logging what you eat so you can hit your numbers. After you’ve calculated your macros using the below steps download it and input your numbers.
1. Calculate your BMR
(10 x weight in kg) + (6.25 x height in cm) – (5 x age in years) + 5 = BMR
Your BMR is how many calories you burn doing absolutely butt all, not even walking to the fridge for some OJ. No exercise, no nothing. Simply how many calories your body uses as it is on a daily basis. It’s known as your Basic Metabolic Rate (BMR).
2. Calculate your BMR with life and exercise included
Times your above BMR result with the below numbers depending on how active you are.
If you do little or no exercise: BMR number x 1.53 = Your total calorie intake needed to stay the same living as you live.
If you exercise one hour per day. BMR number x 1.78 = Your total calorie intake needed to stay the same living as you live.
If you exercise two hours per day. BMR number x 2.25 = Your total calorie intake needed to stay the same living as you live.
So BMR x One of the above numbers = Your active daily BMR i.e your maintenance calories.
Eating at your maintenance calories means you won’t gain or loose weight. You’ll just stay the same.
3.What are your goals?
After you’ve found your maintenance calories you then need to tailor this to your goals. Adding or subtracting 500 cals depending on whether you want to gain muscle or loose weight is a great point to begin at. You can also use percentage based calculations from increasing or decreasing 5-20% either way. It’s all very individual and something I encourage you to experiment with. For the sake of this example I’ll keep it simple. Looking at an example of someone with a maintenance calorie intake of 2,500 calories:
- Gain as much muscle mass as possible: 3,000 calories (using the +500 method)
- Add muscle whilst also loosing fat ‘gaintaining’: Stick at maintenance and train hard, here that is 2500 (we won’t cover this in this example)
- Loose as much weight as possible, sensibly (burn fat): 2,000 calories (using the -500 method, reduce in increments of 200 for first 2 weeks then 100 3rd week and a 100 each week there after until lean goal is achieved.)
I would not advise jumping into adding or subtracting 500cals straight away. Take it slow and do it in increments. 200 for first 2 weeks then 100 3rd week (500cals in total by end of 3rd week). This will help prevent the body from putting on too much fat to fast if gaining muscle. Or if dieting it will help prevent the body from eating into muscle mass or burning out through lack of energy.
4. Calculating your individual macros: Proteins, fats and carbs
4 cals for every 1g of protein or carb
9 cals for every 1g of fat
Knowing this and our goals we can workout the individual requirements to hit for each macro (proteins, fats, carbs) to best achieve our goal.
How to calculate your nutrition macros: Proteins
Proteins are by far the most important macro as they are needed to preserve muscle mass when dieting, and build it when adding muscle (bulking).
Protein also has the highest thermic effect of any macronutrient. This means 20-30% of the calories are burned off in the digestion process. It’s also said a higher protein intake is much more satiating.
Aim for around 1g protein per pound of body weight
If hitting 1 gram per pound is too tough, then drop to 0.7 to 0.8 grams per pound. Once know how many calories you’re aiming for and your protein intake you can then calculate how much you have left for carbs and fats.
Let’s say for instance that you weigh 180 pounds and are aiming for a calorie intake of 2,500 per day.
Your protein is at 180 grams.
There are 4 calories per gram of protein, so 180 x 4 = 720.
That’s 720 calories taken by protein. If you subtract that from your desired intake of 2,500, you get 1,780 calories, which is how many calories you have left to play with for carbs and fats.
Ok, we’re getting there on how to calculate your nutrition macros. Stick with it we’re nearly done.
How to calculate your nutrition macros: Fats
As fats are the “essential” macronutrient, and in theory you can survive without carbs, we’ll set fat intake first. As a minimum, shoot for 0.35 grams of fat per pound of bodyweight.
So if you’re 180 pounds, then 180 x 0.35 is 63g . That’s the minimum amount of fat you’d want each day.
63 x 9 (as there are 9 calories per gram of fat) gives us a calorie intake from fat of 567.
If we deduct that from the 1,780 calories he had left earlier, we’ve still got 1213 calories left to play with.
How to calculate your nutrition macros: Carbs
Continuing our calculation example of a 180 pound person.
There are 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate, so if we do 1213 divided by 4, we get 303. That’s 303 grams of carbs per day. Putting this all together we get:
Total calories = 2,500
Place those numbers into MyFitnessPal and try to get as close to them as possible each day. Don’t worry it becomes easier with practice, even to the point where you’ll just know what food equals what from repetition learning.
5. Tweak your macros to your taste and remember…
Macros are totally goal dependant and very individual. A diet should not be a ‘diet’ so to speak. It should be something you are happy to maintain all your life, healthy and sustainable. Whilst there are many spilts from a high carb low fat for muscle building to a higher fat low carb for keto and fat burning, I advise you to experiment with what works for you. The advice in this post is an example and direction to find out for yourself what that may be, there’s no quick win or solution. Just trial and error. On that note….
Perhaps you like to intake a lot of fat and less carbs. All you need to do is tweak the daily intake. In our example instead of aiming for 0.35g of fat per pound of body weight. Aim for 0.50g.
So if you’re 180 pounds, then 170 x 0.50 is 85g . That’s the minimum amount of fat you’d want each day.
85 x 9 (as there are 9 calories per gram of fat) gives us a calorie intake from fat of 765. You can then work out how many cals you have left for carbs using the same equations above.
That’s it. I know it seems complicated at first but trust me with a little practice and patience you’ll master you goals a lot easier and calculate your nutrition macros easier.
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