Hello my friends……
First and foremost I apologize for the delay in bringing you the conclusion of this series. Dad duty, a split work shift, writer’s block and Netflix binge watching are all main factors. But enough about my nutty life……who’s ready to make nutrition work for them?
If you haven’t yet, I suggest that you first go over parts 1 & 2 where I lay some ground work down for this piece (It will help you to understand the following information better):
Now that we understand the functions and energy values of macros while also having an idea of which natural foods to focus on, now its time to bring it all together to use strategy to make your foods fuel your body efficiently while getting your health and fitness goals attained.
The first thing you need to do is decide what your fitness goal is. Once you clear up that matter, then you will structure your macros accordingly to achieve that goal. (As a side note, you also have to have the appropriate exercise selection and intensity as well for better and quicker results. For an idea, take a look at this video about workout goals:
In a nutshell:
Bodybuilding is an attempt to put on muscle or weight. You don’t necessarily have to go for the Arnold Schwarzenegger look, but you would still use the same principles he did to put on an extra 5-15 pounds of lean muscle. Just a heads up, that it is not as easy as it seems. It takes 5-6 workouts a week and disciplined eating to put on at least one-quarter to a half pound of muscle per month – without steroids. Even you gals that are looking to “tone” your arms and build your booty fall into this group.
Maintenance is when you are content with whichever level you are at, and are looking to stay even without any significant loss or gain. There tends to be at least a 5 pound fluctuation either way because of water intake & retention, cheat meals, bowel movements, and menstrual cycles, but nothing that would lead to a more drastic weight or body composition change.
When you are attempting fat loss, it is to decrease excess body fat if you are overweight. This can range anywhere from attempting to lean out for the coveted beach body to dropping weight for health concerns. Keep in mind that there is a difference between weight loss and fat loss. Weight loss is a more careless way of just dropping weight irrespective of how healthy and safely it’s done, which may result in a loss of muscle tissue as well as body fat (not to mention stripping your bones, blood and other systems of vital nutrients). Fat loss focuses on just shedding excess body fat while wisely keeping every bit of lean muscle on your frame for strength, shape and healthy metabolism.
Once you decide on a goal, then you need to calculate what your total amount of calories should be, per day. The daily amount of calories along with the proportion of macros to those calories are the basis of how fuel your body properly and reach your destination. To figure out your required daily amount of calories:
For bodybuilding, multiply your weight in pounds by 13-15
For maintenance, multiply your weigh in pounds by 12
For fat loss, there are two approaches:
-For just tightening or to shred up, multiply your weight in pounds by 10
-For a significant loss of 10 pounds or more, multiply your goal weight by 10
For example if you are 155 pounds and want to gain 10 pounds of muscle with minimal fat gain as well, then you would need to consume 2000 to 2300 calories per day (155 x 13/14/15) with a 5-6 day workout routine. If you are not accustomed to eating that many calories per day, then you would start with at least 1600-1800 calories per day for a week or two, and gradually increase by 200 calories every week.
If your goal was to maintain, then you would need 1800-1900 (155 x 12) calories per day.
For fat loss, then for a quick “cut” you could do 1500-1600 calories per day (155 x 10). But for instance if your goal weight was 140 pounds then you would consume 1400 calories per day (140 x 10). Once you reach that goal, then you would switch over to a maintenance mode.
Now stay with me, because it can get a little tricky here with nutrition math (I promise I will give you an no-math alternative later on)……….
The percentages of macros for each pie chart represent the amount in CALORIES that you need for each of macros per day. Remember in part one when we discussed the calories per gram of proteins, carbs and fats? That will come in handy now:
For example, in the previously mentioned fat loss goal of 1400 calories, you would need:
40-50% of total calories in protein each day
30-50% of total calories in carbs each day
30-40% of total calories in fats each day
To break it down further:
Protein: 40% of 1400 = 560 calories, divided by 4 calories per gram, which amounts to 140g (amount in grams of protein should almost always match or be close to your weight in pounds if you are exercising on a regular basis).
Carbs: 30% of 1400 = 420 calories, divided by 4 calories per gram, which comes out 105g of carbs.
Fats: 30% of 1400 = 420 calories, divided by 9 calories per gram, which gives you 46g of fats.
Now, if your weight was the previously mentioned 155 pounds and looking to gain 10 pounds of muscle:
155 x 13 = 2015, even out to 2000 calories to start off and then you may have to increase periodically
35% of total calories in protein each day
40% of total calories in carbs each day
25% of total calories in fats each day
Protein: 35% of 2000 = 700 calories, divided by 4 calories per gram, which amounts to 175g of protein
Carbs: 40% of 2000 = 800 calories, divided by 4 calories per gram, which comes out 200g of carbs.
Fats: 25% of 2000 = 500 calories, divided by 9 calories per gram, which gives you 55g of fats.
There are a few helpful approaches to use in order to hit those numbers:
You can use an app to easily track your meals and calories. There are a few like Sparkpeople, My Fitness Pal, Fitbit, and Lose It! that you can install on your phone. It’s a reliable way to keep record of your daily intake. Plus, here’s the good part, it does all the math for you, so you don’t have to strain your brain! By doing so you can teach yourself the appropriate amounts to eat. I don’t recommend tracking your macros every day for the rest of your life. Just don’t! It takes the joy out of eating.
The key is to use it EVERY DAY for a 3-4 week period so that you can see trends and habits in your daily routine. This time frame should allow you to have a handle on your serving sizes and consistency, at which time you can stop using the app. That will be the moment you take control of your daily nutrition. You may go over or under a bit with calories on any given day, but if you’re working out 4-6 times per week it will all balance out. Its not fun to constantly count calories and obsess over what’s going to make you fat. You can periodically use the app to get on track, but don’t be a slave to it. Constant obsessing about calories and macros make eating a chore. Furthermore, you wouldn’t want to give yourself any more fuel to contribute any maniacal tendencies, perpetual body image issues and eating disorders.
That being said, you may also change your macro goals from time to time. No one can always be on a fat loss diet because living a caloric deficiency for too long is unhealthy. On the flip side, you can’t always be a on bodybuilding diet either because an excess of calories for too long might create additional body fat. Maintenance mode will always be a happy medium, but for loss or growth it wouldn’t provide the extra little bit you need to accomplish your optimal fitness.
Another very useful approach is to weigh your food. Before you eat or even prepare your meals, measure each serving to calculate the appropriate amount of calories. I will warn you – serving sizes can be a lot smaller than you think. Using a scale will be a defining moment in your nutrition education. There are many inexpensive food scales out there. Many of them are digital and allow you to switch your measurement units to grams, ounces and pounds.
This next one can be very helpful, but it does take an investment of time and effort to get it going. Meal preparation – measuring, preparing and cooking all of your meals days in advance. This allows you to
a) save time later on during the week and not end up eating quick, easy fatty & carby meals if you get too busy,
b) commit to macro appropriate servings for each meal
c) decrease eating out and spend less money down the line
You can prep any meals you wish for, for as many days as you choose in advance. Whatever your resources and refrigerator space will allow you to.
As an alternative to meal prepping, you can purchase color coded meal containers as an aide. It’s totally understandable if all the math of calories are intimidating and you’d just rather not attempt all that number manipulation. The color containers are a great way to get a ballpark amount of your macros by getting approximate serving sizes of each of the necessary food groups.
Staying on point with your diet for weight loss all by yourself can be overwhelming. Which is why having accountability with Weight Watchers may be an invaluable resource. With their guidance on nutrition, meal systems and the encouragement of regular meetings it may provide the missing piece of the puzzle for all of your efforts. The program even offers its own tracker app as well. It’s not for everyone, as it is an extra investment of finances and time. However if you’re serious about your weight loss and going solo is not working out for you then you might want to give it consideration.
I know I have thrown quite a bit of stuff at you, so I just want to give one last concept to be mindful of. You shouldn’t just try to hit a daily number of grams of each macro but also try to take in quality choices of macros. If you refer to part 2 of this series there is a list of foods to consider. Eat foods that are protein and fiber dense, and rich with vitamins. Plan out which foods that are higher in good saturated fats that will remain in your diet. Cut down on processed, manufactured foods. Many of the processed foods that we purchase that are packaged and made on an assembly line have a higher level of fats, sugars and preservatives than natural foods. There’s no harm in allowing a few balanced choices of those processed foods into your diet, but a daily diet of mostly processed foods can be detrimental to both your weight and general health. Choose wisely!
Many people will tell you that to make it work 75-80% nutrition and 20-25% exercise. To an extent that’s true as far as what proportion of each factor plays its part in your results. But I believe its 100% nutrition, 100% exercise, and 100% dedication to see it through. You have it give it your all in both areas to reach for greatness.
Press on and eat well,