Welcome back to day 2! Yesterday we took a brief yet thorough look into calories and how you can use them based on your personal goals. Today we’re going to cover the second key factor to altering your body composition, macronutrients! But… what are they?
Macronutrients, also known as macros, are three big important elements that go into everything you eat. Protein, fats and carbs. How you set these up, or balance them, can greatly influence your body composition. But first, lets take a quick look into each three starting with protein.
The building block of all muscle tissue, protein contains 4 calories per 1 gram. On a more complex level protein is a compound consisting of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. Protein also consists of amino acids. Which are protein molecules band together in a chain-like fashion. When protein is eaten and digested these amino acids are made available for repairing and building muscle, as well as a few other things of course.
You can probably start to see why protein is important to us while both dieting and mass gaining. Lets take Bob for example, our fat loss client from yesterday. He wanted to lose 10lbs and so we set his calories at 1880 per day to do so. Next up, I’d set protein intake. The second most important step for dietary/fat loss success.
Now keep in mind, he’s in a daily calorie deficit meaning his body now has less energy than is did before hand. If protein intake is too low he runs the risk of muscle protein being metabolised for fuel which is a disaster. So, to combat muscle loss we MUST eat a suitable amount of protein to aid in maintenance. Which is ultimately the goal in a fat loss phase. Muscle maintenance.
So how much protein does Bob require? If you read whatever snake oil magazine is currently on the shelf of your local Tesco they’d have you believe you need two to three-hundred grams per day! Madness. No one can surely afford that anyway. So what is the scientific consensus really? Around 0.82 grams per pound of bodyweight. I guess the old school bodybuilders weren’t too far off with their one gram per pound rule after all. Now, there are people far more intelligent than I who came to these conclusions and if you’d like to read up on protein I thoroughly recommend you checkout Menno Henselman’s article titled The Myth of 1 g/lb: Optimal Protein Intake For Bodybuilders, where he breaks down several research papers and their conclusions.
So, with that in mind how much does Bob require? And you for that matter. Use the calculator below. Remember we’re using Bob as an example however, use your own respective numbers.
1880 * .30% = 564 / 4 = 141 g protein
So, Bob requires 141g protein per day! This isn’t too far off the .82g per pound recommendation either which would put him at 139g per day. So everything checks out as optimal.
Now, remember there are 4 calories per gram meaning Bob’s protein intake takes up 564 of his allotted calories. Meaning we have 1316 calories left to play with but to quickly recap! Protein during a diet is especially important because it essentially signals the body to keep muscle at all costs! Phew, okay moving on.
Up next, fats and carbs. I won’t bore you with a long winded, almost confusing paragraph or three about the two. However just know that carbohydrates are just sugars, which are digested and metabolised in the liver as glycogen and released into the blood as glucose! The body’s go to fuel source. So, lets dispel the myth that carbs make you fat. Overeating makes you fat. Period. While its true some can tolerate carbs more than others, on a whole we shouldn’t reject them to lose weight. They can fuel our workouts and they’re just down right enjoyable. And dieting should be a really manageable process, eliminating carbs to lose weight is just not sustainable in the long run.
So what about fat? Fat is important because it can help with hormonal stuff. Especially in men. Plus, there are some real beneficial fats that everyone should get. Mostly from fish for example, which you should get in your diet a couple times a week.
Honestly, if you’re setting up your diet following my recommendations than its preference to how much of either you want. If you know that lots of carbs make you bloat and feel a bit sluggish aim for the lower end. However I’m going to have Bob perform three intense weight lifting sessions per week so I’m going to give him a mix of 35% fats and carbs. But if you want 40% carb and 30% fat then go for it. So long as you’re in a deficit you will lose weight.
1880 * .35 = 658 / 4 = 164
1880 * .35 = 658 / 9 = 73
So, Bob requires in total
- 141g protein
- 164g carbs
- 73g fat
I understand this may be confusing if you’re following along so use the chart below to guidance.
30% daily calories
35% daily calories
Don’t forget this is just a simple guideline, mix and match and see what works for you. Also:
If you want to work with me then my calculations are very specific and thorough, more tuned to you and your goals. For the sake of simplicity I am offering simple guidelines.
So, as you saw above for fat loss, eating less and getting a good amount of protein with fats and carbs is key. This = fat loss. However, what about muscle gain? In truth, I decided to write more about fat loss here because that is what most people want but if you read yesterday’s post then you’d know how to set your calories. From there I’d stick actually increase protein and carbs slightly. Nothing too major.
Now, we have our calories and macros. How do we hit them? With food, duh. But its the quality of food I want to discuss. You may have heard of a term, popularised by the likes of Instagram, called If It Fits Your Macros. What does this mean? This means if a giant ass piece of cake, or bag sweets fits your macros then eat them. Now, I have no problem with this at all but its the liberty people will take with it. I’m guilty of it for sure but its important to discuss. A good diet should consist of whole, nutritious foods for the most part and ‘snacks’ or ‘treats’ being consumed here and then IF you have the calories. May I’ll start a new trend. If You Have The Calories.
But what would this diet look like? Something like this. I tell my clients to hit most of the protein throughout the day, or whenever suits them. Preferably post workout. if you can do this with two or three meals you may have around 600 calories or so left. THEN you can indulge with the desserts or sweets. But that doesn’t mean you cant enjoy good food. For example, sweet potatoes are amazing and taste amazing so should therefore be included in your diet. What about higher quality mince and spaghetti? Get creative and you’ll find this diet a breeze.
Also, I thoroughly suggest you invest in a food scale and download the app MyFitnessPal. Learn to weigh food and understand how many calories you’re actually eating. This is something I have my clients do, we have to get results or whats the point?
To finally conclude. Protein is important because it helps us maintain muscle mass during a diet and build more muscle in a gaining phase. Fats and carbs are important because they fuel us and are responsible for other goings on in the body. Your diet should consist of healthy, nutritious whole foods but you should also enjoy the good stuff too. Everything in moderation.
I understand there has been a lot of numbers in this piece and even I get confused from time to time but if you’re following try your best to follow, always feel free to reach out too if needed!
Tomorrow we look into the most optimal way of tracking body composition changes but mostly for fat loss. So, I look forward to checking in with you tomorrow for part 3.
See you on the flip side!