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This week we are going to learn a little more about how to start balancing your macros and adjusting them based on your ongoing needs. This is a question that can benefit everyone!
Our BOOMer asks:
“What is the best way to track my macro intake and how my daily needs change based on the work I'm doing and how my general fitness is improving?"
Awesome question! Take it away Coach Lance!
Thanks for the great question! Let’s start by addressing the best way to track macro intake and then I’ll address how to account/track changes in macro volumes based on body composition and activity.
In my opinion, the best tool for macro tracking by a pretty wide margin at this point is MyFitnessPal. It has a huge food database and some really slick features like barcode scanning and the ability to create and easily reference meals and recipes. One area that it does not do a great job at, however, is selecting starting calories and macros. A quick overview of what macros are and their general purpose is as follows:
Protein - Adequate protein intake ensures that we have the building blocks for recovery, growth, and to prevent muscle breakdown. It is also the most satiating macronutrient, which makes it useful for combating hunger when we are dieting.
Fat - Fat is essential for hormonal regulation (and also responsible for making generally making food taste better).
Carbohydrate - Carbohydrates, though not essential, help fuel our training which is the key weapon we have in our arsenal to tell the body to hang on to muscle when dieting. It is also the spark for muscle growth when in a weight gain phase.
A good place to start is determining how many calories we should consume per day based on our goals. To do that we will want to calculate our TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure). There are a myriad of ways to do that but a relatively accurate as well a simple way to do so is if you workout at LFT 3-5 times a week and have a job where you get some activity take your bodyweight in lbs and multiple it by 15. If you work our less often than that or have a very sedentary job use 14 as your multiplier. Once we have that number we will want to subtract out our deficit in order to lose weight/fat. A good starting point is typically 500 calories under your calculated total TDEE. For example, if you are 175 lbs and workout 5 times a week your TDEE would be 2625. We’ll subtract 500 from that and our daily calorie goal becomes 2125.
Now that we have our calorie goal we can figure out what our breakdown of protein, fats, and carbs should be. Roughly 1g or protein per lbs of bodyweight or more is a good starting point. But we can make it even easier than that. Just take your calorie goal, multiple it by .4 (since we want somewhere around 40 percent of our calories to come from protein), and divide it by 4 (there are approximately 4 calories per gram of protein). Our above example would look like this:
Protein - (2125 x .4)/4=212
For fats and carbs we will do the same thing targeting 30 percent of each. One caveat is that fat has approximately 9 calories per g which we will factor in.
Fats – (2125 x .3)/9=71
Carbs – (2125 x.3)/4=159
Our example starting target macros would be:
P – 212g
F – 71g
C – 159g
One nice feature of MyFitnessPal is that all you will need to go is calculate your target calories and then adjust your macro percentages and it will do the math for you…easy peasy! Note that these may not be “ideal” macros for each individual but they should serve well as a starting point.
In terms of making adjustments based on changes in body composition and activity level letting results based on fat loss, muscle gain, and how you are feeling dictate adjustments to calorie and macro targets. If you were thinking that 2125 calories from our example case seems like a lot there is a reason for that. Our bodies are always trying to maintain homeostasis as a way of ensuring that we don’t, you know, die. 😊 In order to do so, as we restrict calories and go into a deficit, our body will counter by lowering our metabolism. The deeper our caloric deficit is, the more quickly and drastically our metabolism tends to slow. Based on that, our goal is to have just enough caloric deficit to lose bodyfat but not significant enough to result in substantial muscle loss or metabolic “damage”. Conversely, as we add lean muscle mass (or even better replace fat mass with lean body mass) our body will require additional calories to keep us wicked pumped up! Changes in activity level work the same way although there is rarely a one to one ratio of increased workload to calorie need especially over time. The reason for that is our body is very good at becoming efficient and what we do frequently and thus we burn less calories (I know, bummer). Fortunately, we mix things up a lot with our programming at LFT which helps to offset calorie burn stagnation or regression especially as opposed to doing the same workout or couple of workouts every single day/week! All of this means that generally the best way to go is to play it by ear. If you find that you are no longer losing weight/fat adjust calories/macros down a little (250 calories or so is typically a good rule of thumb). If you are losing weight dramatically or don’t want to lose any additional weight adjust calories/macros up until your weight stabilizes.
Hopefully that helps you get started. If you have any follow up questions feel free to drop those in the comments. If you would like a deeper dive into this or would like some assistance in setting up a personalized plan I might know a guy. 😉
Thanks Coach Lance! Great suggestions to help any boomer start building their foundation. Remember our physical, mental, emotional and nutritional needs are as unique as our fingerprints. Don't try to adjust your needs to fit someone else's plan, find a plan that fulfills YOUR needs. If you ever need further support, reach out to any of us at LFT and we will get you where you need to be.
Until next time! See you in the Boom Room!
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