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.
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
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!
We cannot make sustainable change with food, our bodies, or our surrounding habits until we honestly explore and get curious about our relationship with each of them. Mindset change is not easy, but so, so worth it.
Being healthy starts with learning to cook simple foods in easy, delicious ways with approachable and practical recipes and techniques.
Our health begins with properly nourishing our bodies with nutrient-dense foods. I believe in bio-individuality: each person requires different types and amounts of food to feel their best. Learn how to eat intuitively for the rest of your life!