macros fitness

Macros, Calories And How to Diet Properly


Now that you have your goals and motivation all mapped out it’s time to start tackling the keystone needed to lose weight, get abs or perform on a high level.  No, not cocaine, it’s your diet.

But where to start?  How can you properly fit something into your macros (IFYM) if you don’t know what the hell a macro is? 

And what do you mean diet properly?  That would mean that there is an incorrect way to diet.

There is a correct way to diet and it does require a little bit of brain power.  Don’t worry it’s only a little, you won’t break a sweat doing it.

I know what your saying; eating should be easy and shouldn’t require thinking.  I 100% agree with that.  Unfortunately, what you know about what to eat and how to lose weight through diet is more than likely coming from 1) outdated resources and 2) marketing.

How are companies going to make money if they don’t entice you with “organic” food labels?  Or get you to buy low fat peanut butter but fill it with sugar instead (yea, go ahead take a look at the label.  I’ll wait).

Since you already eat, I figure it’s easier to tweak that habit rather than diving in the deep end by changing the way you eat and creating an exercise habit.  Let’s up your level of success and get you a one-way ticket to sexy town-and I just lost half my readers.

Here is what you have to look forward to through the rest of this post:

  • How many calories you need
  • Mind your macros
  • How many times should I eat per day?
  • Eating only the carbs you earn
  • Why you need fat
  • Water
  • The key to losing weight
  • Cheat meals or cheat days
  • Tools for success
  • What to eat before the gym
  • What to eat after the gym
  • Expectations
  • Tracking Progress
  • Diets I recommend to get you started

Because this is my website and I can:

  • My thoughts on Vegetarians and Vegans
  • My thoughts on Detoxes and Cleanses

 

HOW MANY CALORIES YOU NEED

There are countless calculators out there that will determine the calories you need per day.  They all boil down to 4 different factors: age, weight, gender and activity level.

Based on all the calculators, charts and research I’ve dug up; here are the basic guidelines:

macros fitness

Women: Sorry, most of my readers are men so this chart is tailored to them.  All you have to do to find out how much you need is to perform the same calculation but then subtract 400 from that number.

So basically if you go to the gym, using mostly machines and have a desk job and weigh 180lbs. and you want to lose a little fat- multiply 12×180 = 2160 calories per day.  If you have a calculator, it’s easy peasy.  If you have to use an abacus, I wish you the best.

You’ll notice that the no exercise with a desk job has the same multiplier for maintenance and fat loss.  The reason for that is once you lower calories below a certain point your metabolism will slow down in order to conserve itself.  This also happens when you drop more than 500 calories per day for a period of time.  Stupidly, I did this when I got ready for my competition- I dropped from 2500 calories to 2000 and my fat loss almost stopped completely.

Now a couple things to keep in mind:

  • These are general guidelines. Tweak as necessary (we will get into that later)
  • Every time you lose or gain 10lbs revisit this calculation to adjust calories

If your daily calories are too far from this number (more than 200-300) then slowly, over the course of a couple weeks, increase or decrease until you hit the amount from the calculation above.  Don’t make my mistake and drop too much too fast (slower metabolism) or increase too fast (fat gain).

To illustrate that point, say you currently eat 3000 calories a day and you should be eating 2200.  So this is what I would do:

Week 1: 2800 calories

Week 3: 2600 calories

Week 5: 2400 calories

Week 7: 2200 calories

I know taking the slow ride down isn’t sexy or cool but it works.  You will get better results by stepping down rather than jumping from 3000 to 2200.  Your metabolism will work for you, rather than against you and most importantly you will lose fat during this time and see a constant stream of results.

TAKE ACTION: Multiply your weight by the appropriate factor above.  If you are more than 200-300 calories now from your desired daily calories, then adjust over a couple of weeks.  Step up or down rather than jumping the entire staircase.

ESTIMATED TIME TO COMPLETE: With a calculator: 10 seconds, abacus: who knows?

 

MIND YOUR MACROS

When we talk about macros, we are talking about fat, carbs and protein.  Now you know what us health nuts are talking about.

According to the U.S. government you should aim for a 45-60% carb, 10-35% protein and 20-35% fat breakdown.

There is a major issue with these numbers.  Protein and carbs should be switched at very least.  Say what?!

You ask: “But I heard too much protein will cause kidney problems?”

I respond: “Do you have kidney problems now?  No?  Then you’re fine.”

Protein is used throughout the body from growing muscles to growing your hair.

Your body can do without carbs despite what you think.  Carbs supply glucose which is used to help your brain keep going and give your muscles a source of energy.  However, you can get away with not consuming carbs and your body will be just fine – The Ketogenic Diet.  Fats and proteins are essential as there is no way to work around what these macros provide.

A good macro ration to follow is 40-50% Protein, 10-30% Carbs and 30-40% Fats.

In order to find out what those percentages are in the form of useable numbers multiply the percentage by your daily calories and then divide that number by the calories per gram.

Clear as mud?

Before I illustrate this calculation, we must know protein and carbs supply 4 calories per gram and fat provides 9 calories per gram.  If you look on a nutrition label it says this, I also wrote about it in HOW TO READ FOOD LABELS.

So, to illustrate this calculation lets assume the following ratio of 45% protein, 25% carbs and 30% fat for a 200lbs person who is a beast at the gym looking to lose fat:

Daily Calories:

200lbs X 12(from table above) = 2400 daily calories

Protein:

.45 x 2400 = 1080 / 4 = 270g

Carbs:

.25 x 2400 = 600 / 4 = 150g

Fat:

.30 X 2400 = 800 / 9 = 80g

So this person would need 270g of protein, 150g of carbs and 80g of fats a day.  Seem like a lot?  Break it down over a 5-6 meals a day and it becomes a little more digestible (see what I did there?).

TAKE ACTION:  Take your daily calorie requirements from above and figure out how many grams of each macro nutrient you need. 

ESTIMATED TIME TO COMPLETE: 2 minutes

 

HOW MANY TIMES SHOULD I EAT A DAY?

This is highly individualized.  Some people can do 1 large meal and other have 5-6 small meals a day.  The main thing is to hit your macro and caloric requirements.  If you can hit that in 2 meals then stick to 2 meals.  If you don’t have a stomach like Joey Chestnut then break it up into little meals.

macros fitness
Probably good with 1 meal a day.

TAKE ACTION: Keep with the eating schedule you have but if you can’t hit your calories or macros, add another meal as needed.

EATING ONLY THE CARBS YOU EARN

When I reference carbs, I’m referring to fruits, grains, rice, oatmeal, potatoes (sweet and white) and sugar.  All these contribute to your carb daily allotment.

Now when you calculated your carb intake you went for the higher end didn’t you?  You love you some carbs.

Well, in order to lose weight, you need to earn your carbs.  They are too easy to over indulge which will only lead to bad things.

You earn your carbs by putting in work at the gym.  If you can look me in the eye and tell me, you go balls out (or ovaries) then go for the higher end of of the carb range.  Otherwise stick to the mid to lower end.

How do you know if you earned them?

Go by feel.

If you have no energy at the gym, then have a serving of fruit before you go.

If you leave the gym and feel absolutely drained, then have some potatoes, rice or some fruit to replenish your glycogen stores.

Tired during the day?  Then move your ass around.

Veggies should make up 80-90% of your daily carb intake.  These are not something you should skimp on because of the nutritional value. 

Also, notice I didn’t mention any snacks or junk food.  There is a reason for that.  There is one place for them and that is in your cheat meal, not everyday consumption.  But you knew that.

TAKE ACTION: Earn your carbs or be stuck with veggies as your only source.

 

WHY YOU NEED FAT

Fat is a precursor to hormones.  Low fat equals lower hormone levels which in turn has an effect on growth, development, metabolism, reproduction and mood.  Some vitamins are fat soluble, meaning they only dissolve and absorb through fat.  These are vitamin A,D,E and K.

TAKE ACTION: Keep fats, all sources minus trans, in your diet to ensure optimal hormone levels. 

 

WATER

You need water more than food and only slightly less than oxygen.  Pick a function of the body and water influences it in some way.  Yea it’s pretty important.  Aim for at least 0.5-1 oz for every pound you weigh.  So if you weight 150lbs then consume at least 75oz of water a day.

TAKE ACTION:  Drink more water to help your body function optimally.

 

THE KEY TO LOSING WEIGHT

Type 2 Diabetes is on the rise and everyone can see it.  People are becoming more and more insulin resistant because of the food they eat.  After a while their pancreas can’t keep up and boom, diabetes.

The key in the beginning of a diet is to reset your insulin sensitivity.

You do this by limiting, if not eliminating, all forms or sugars and fast digesting carbs.  Things like rice cakes which are advertised as “health food” you need to watch out for.  They jack up your insulin faster than you could enjoy eating it.

Consult the glycemic index if you question a certain food.  Basically, look for foods that rank less than 70.

By resetting your insulin sensitivity your body will become more able to use the food you consume rather than just storing it and increasing your waist line.

 

TAKE ACTION: Lower or eliminate all sugar and refined carbs from your diet.  This will be one of the best things you can do to help aide in fat loss.

 

CHEAT MEALS OR CHEAT DAYS

Everyone needs a release but how much of a release is what could make or break you.  For me personally, I don’t do moderation well – at all.  If I have a cheat day I end up feeling it for the rest of the week.  Some people can, but what it boils down to is feel.  If you have a cheat day and you start noticing you aren’t losing weight like you should or the reflection in the mirror doesn’t look any better then I think it’s time to tone the cheating down.

Start with one meal a week where you eat whatever you want.  Occasionally have a whole day for special occasions (holidays, cookouts etc.).

Cheat meals give you something to look forward to.  Like the carrot on the end of the string.

 

TAKE ACTION: One meal a week, enjoy yourself and indulge.

 

TOOLS FOR SUCCESS

Here are a few things I recommend:

  1. Have a meal prep day. Pick one day a week and prep at least some of the meals for the week.  For me, I cook up my eggs and chicken on Sunday.  The rest of the week is just scooping out whey protein and portioning out veggies.  Sunday takes me 1-1.5 hours to complete and the rest of the week takes me 5 minutes.

This will help prevent the excuse of not having time to prep lunch.

  1. Plan dinners ahead and stick to it. Without planning you leave a lot of room for bad choices.
  2. Downloading an app to track calories and macros, at least at first. I have used FitDay but find MyFitnessPal a lot more robust and easier to use.  These are both free apps so you don’t have to break the bank.  We can save that money for the next Taylor Swift album to come out.  Priorities on lock.
macros fitness
Fitday
macros fitness
MyFitnessPal

You need to track how many calories you are eating and this is the easiest way to track them.  Plus, seeing how much you eat really makes you aware of what your putting into your mouth.  Instead of putting in what you eat as you eat it, put it in the night before.  This way you have a “plan” for the next day and stick to it.

  1. Invest in a bathroom scale and a kitchen scale. Nothing fancy, a decent bathroom scale will run you about $15 and a kitchen scale about $15.  This way we can track your weight loss and how much chicken you are adding to your plate.  The eye is not an accurate measuring device.

TAKE ACTION: Set aside a few hours one day to prep at least the basics for your lunches for the week.  While it’s cooking, plan out dinners for the week, download a calorie counting app and purchase a bathroom and food scale

ESTIMATED TIME: 1-1.5 hours a week.

 

WHAT TO EAT BEFORE THE GYM

60-90 minutes before for workout drink a protein and carb mix (30g of carbs and protein).  A scoop of protein and a banana would work.

From experience, I would highly advise to not have dairy before a workout.  I made the mistake of having greek yogurt before running once.  Take my advice AVOID PREWORKOUT DAIRY if you like the shorts you are wearing.

TAKE ACTION: 60-90 minutes before you step in the gym down some protein and carbs. 

 

WHAT TO EAT AFTER THE GYM

Make this the most calories you consume at one time.  Shoot for 50g of protein and carbs each within 2 hours of finishing your workout.  If you don’t need the carbs after, stick to the 50g of protein.

TAKE ACTION: Within 2 hours of the end of your workout consume 50g of protein at very least.  If you need it and earned it add the same amount of carbs.

 

TRACKING PROGRESS

How do you know where you are if you don’t know where you started?  Here is a list of things to keep track of

  • Calories
  • Macros
  • Weight (Same time everyday. Don’t rely on the reading until Thursday morning, first thing*)
  • How you feel
  • How you look (the infamous bathroom selfie)
  • Workouts (Gym Hero, best workout app I’ve found)
macros fitness
Gym Hero

*The reason I recommend Thursday is because usually Saturday is when people go out for dinner.  Eating out usually means taking on more water weight from extra carbs and excess sodium.  After a few days of healthy eating the excess water you’re lugging around will be gone and your true weight is what you see.

TAKE ACTION: For crying out loud download some free apps and use them.  Plus, take your bathroom selfie.

EXPECTATIONS

By dieting correctly, you should lose about 1% of your bodyweight a week.

If you find yourself on the short end of the 1%, then drop your calories by 200 by taking away from fats and carbs.  Never take away from protein.

You will inevitably hit a plateau where you can’t lower calories anymore and that’s when you incorporate exercise or switch up your workout routine.  Plateaus are not bad; they just tell us you are ready for the next step in your progression.

There are many factors that go into your weight.  Things like muscle, fat, organs, water and food all fluctuate which leads to weight fluctuations.  Weigh yourself the same time every morning before you eat or drink anything and after you pee.  This will be the most accurate reading you will get.  Sometimes the scale doesn’t cooperate and it will stick at the same number for some time.  In that case revisit your mirror and take an assessment.  Do you notice good changes?  Then stick to what you are doing.  Let the mirror determine how you feel about your weight.

The first week of a low carb diet (pick your flavor – Atkins, Anabolic, Slow Carb, total starvation) the initial weight loss is water weight.  There might be a tiny couple of ounces of fat loss but that 5 lbs drop you saw was water.  Carbs stored in the body hold water.  By depleting the carbs in your body and not replenishing them, you also lose the water that was bound to them.  So when week 2 rolls around and you only lost 1-2 lbs don’t get discouraged, that the good part, that is fat loss.  So like I said before, be less concerned about the number on the scale and more concerned about what is in your mirror.

TAKE ACTION: By tracking what you do and what you eat you can throw in little things here and there that will keep you on the right path. 

DIETS I RECOMMEND TO GET YOU STARTED

There are 3 diets I’ve used and gotten good results with:

  • For weight loss and general living: The Slow Carb Diet
  • For getting extra lean: Carb Cycling
  • For gaining muscle: The Anabolic Diet

I wrote about all of these in the Accelerated Fat Loss Post.

MY THOUGHTS ON VEGETARIANS AND VEGANS

A lot of foods from both animal and plant origin contain protein, but not all protein is created equally. Protein from high quality animal food contains a better amino acid profile for building muscle as well as influencing nitrogen retention (maintaining muscle mass) on account of the higher biological value of the protein. This is an area where meat consumption is superior as most forms of vegetable proteins are either accompanied with large quantities of carbohydrate or come in powder form Getting quality protein at each meal is important to not only stay anabolic, but to supply your body the amino acids needed to make enzymes, hormones, and structural components.

MY THOUGHTS ON DETOXES AND CLEANSES

If you want to spend money on detoxes and cleanse then be my guest.  I could get you the same results with Ex-Lax and a gallon of water.  That is more or less what they all are.  They help you drop everything off and that is there “AMAZING WEIGHT LOSS”!

 

Dave

 

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