Macros 101 {Part 2}

Many of you might be wondering why I’m talking about macros when I won’t shut up about our intuition. Some people are COMPLETELY against any numbers. And I get that, especially for people with a history of eating disorders where this can be very triggering. But to be honest, I think there is a place for them if you are super active and lifting heavy weights. If you’re engaging in this type of activity, and you want to build muscle, get stronger, and see what your body is capable of, then I think it can be appropriate.

What’s important is to get in touch with your intention. If you do this for your fitness goals, then cool (and think about the intention for your fitness goals, too! Why do you want to be fit?). But if you’re doing macro-counting as just another diet, quick fix, or food savior, then I would think again.

Because like I’ve said, eating for health and eating for goals are not always the same thing. If you do not feel ready to track your macros, ie your relationship with food is not great right now, then I would prioritize giving your relationship with food a chance to heal before you begin. Which would mean listening to your body’s signals of hunger and fullness as an indicator of when and what to eat.

Lots of people claim they healed their relationship with food through tracking, but I would still be aware of your motivations around it and beware if it becomes obsessive. You all know I always lean towards the intuitive side, but I know lots of people are curious about this, and I want to provide the information.

I wouldn’t continue tracking if you become obsessive about it, if you find yourself sacrificing your social life, and that you do not derive any self-worth from being “perfect” with your numbers. The point of tracking is to make sure you’re fueling yourself properly, while still allowing room for the occasional dietary deviation for whatever is worth it to YOU. I loosely track sometimes just because I work out so much (& intensely) and I tend to undereat, which makes my workouts suffer. But since I’ve been aware of my food situation for a long time now, I know what makes me feel good and what doesn’t.

Remember, you’re not good or bad if you don’t hit your numbers. And there are no good or bad foods. It doesn’t matter if you do this or not. It just depends on what your goals are and what your intention is behind them!

Now for the math. Counting macros comes down to figuring out your goals (do you want to maintain, lose, gain?) and how active you are, then calculating your specific numbers and being consistent over a period of time. Test, test, test. See how you feel with the numbers you calculate for yourself. If you are feeling like you are stuffing yourself to reach the numbers, then don’t force yourself to eat if you’re uncomfortable. On the same token, if you’re freaking starving, then eat more! Please listen to your body above all else. Pay attention to your sleep, how your clothes fit, how you’re performing, and how you’re recovering.

The numbers you’ll calculate below are for weight maintenance. Even if you choose to track this way and maintain, your body composition WILL shift even if your weight doesn’t. In other words, you’ll lose fat and gain muscle. Since you’ll be eating a lot of protein, which helps build and maintain muscle, you’ll lose fat over time depending on how consistent you are.

If you want to lose weight, then you DO need to have a caloric deficit. There’s no way around it. YOU need to decide what that deficit will be. I say don’t start with more than a 20% deficit. Meaning, take 20% away from all your numbers. Same thing with weight gain, in will you’ll need to have a caloric surplus. That’s up to you as well.

Try eating at maintenance for two weeks and see how your body responds. Remember that it takes TIME to adjust and it takes TIME for your body to make changes. Above all else, be kind to yourself and don’t rush.

Notes:

  • When we set our numbers, we’ll get DAILY numbers for our macronutrients, all in GRAMS, for protein, fat, and carbohydrate.
  • You’ll need to log your food in an app (I like MyFitnessPal or Macros+), trying to be as accurate as possible. Remember that the amount of a macronutrient in a specific food is not the same as the total weight of a food. So for example, 100g total weight of cooked chicken breast has about 30g protein, not 100g protein! Keep this in mind as you eat.
  • For best accuracy, try to be +/-5 in all your numbers for each day
  • Regarding meal frequency, you can essentially how you want within this framework. You can separate it into three meals, into six meals, into three meals with two snacks, it’s really up to you. I personally eat three snacks and two huge meals each day, but that’s what works best for me and my schedule.
  • Time your starchy carbohydrates around your workouts, before and after, if you can.
  • Eat REAL FOOD, as always. With this approach, you have ROOM to include a couple things that you LOVE every single day. Nothing is ever off limits. That’s the key to a good relationship with food: to know what works for you, what will wreck you, and what has consequences, and which consequences are worth it to you.

 

First we’ll set our calories.

Calories = Bodyweight in pounds x Lifestyle factor

Your lifestyle factor will run between 11-16. 11 would be a pretty sedentary person, while 16 would be a competitive athlete. I give myself a 13 here. I’m on my feet all day and I work out 5-6 times per week plus daily walks and yoga. Give yourself your best estimate.

So, let’s use me as an example. A 137 pound person with a lifestyle factor of 13:

Calories = 137 x 13 = 1794

Second, convert your bodyweight in pounds to kilograms by dividing it by 2.2.

137 / 2.2 = 62.27kg

Set your protein grams

Protein = Bodyweight in kilograms x 2 = daily amount of protein in grams

Protein = 62.27 x 2 = 124.55g

Calories from protein = 124.55 x 4 (there’s 4 calories per gram in protein) = 498.2

Set your fat grams

Fat = Bodyweight in kilograms

Fat = 62.27g

Calories from fat = 62.27 x 9 (there’s 9 calories per gram in fat) = 560.43

Calculate your carbohydrates

Because our carbohydrate requirement depends on how active we are (the lifestyle factor from above!), we need to calculate it based on the numbers we have already, which are total calories, calories from protein, and calories from fat.

Carbohydrate = (Total calories – (Calories from protein + Calories from fat)) / 4 (there’s 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate)

Carbohydrate = (1794 – (498.2 + 560.43)) / 4 =  

                             1794 – 1058.63 = 735 / 4 = 183.84g

To recap

Protein = 124.55g

Fat = 62.27g

Carbohydrate = 183.84

Let me know if you guys have any further questions. Remember to listen, be kind, and adjust as needed!

  1. Anibal A Gracia-Baez

    March 17th, 2017 at 7:28 am

    Hi Ashley I already have my numbers but I always have problems on how do I distribute those numbers between breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. For example my numbers are P=172 F=86 C=203 but now can you give an example of a breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack.

    Also what info can you give on nutrition for people that works at midnight.

    Thanks and keep giving us good nutrtion info.

    By the way the recipe for the mojo chicken was really good

  2. thegrizzlykitchen

    March 17th, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    Hi Anibal! Meal distribution is completely up to you & what works well for your life. You can split into 3 or 4 meals with equal macros, or two larger meals with a couple snacks mixed in between. Just make sure you get a lot of protein and carbs after your workouts. Like I said, it’s whatever works best for your life & tastes. As a shift worker, I’d recommend to eat most of your carbs at nighttime because that lowers cortisol, and shift working can lead to high stress. Make sure you get in plenty of walks per week and take care of your stress management through deep breathing, meditation, etc. Most of the advice I have for shift working has to do with lifestyle. Hope you keep reading! Let me know if you have any further questions.

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