HOW TO DETERMINE YOUR MACRONUTRIENTS
In part 1, we gave you information on how to estimate your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). Just to quickly recap, your TDEE is your maintenance caloric intake which means that this is the number of calories (not completely accurate) that you need eat to maintain your current body weight.
Now that we understand how many calories we need, we need to determine how many grams of each macronutrient to place within our diet.
Macronutrients, or your macros for short, make up your calories.
- 1 gram of protein = 4 calories
- 1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories
- 1 gram of fat = 9 calories
Let’s use the example we used in part 1 to make sense of this.
In that original example, our subject has an estimated TDEE of 2,954 calories. He was a 30-year old male who was 6-foot tall and weighed 200-pounds. He also had a moderate activity level (exercises 3-5 days per week).
We will also say that this individual wants to lose weight. Therefore, we need a calorie deficit in order to make this happen. A calorie deficit is where you consume fewer calories than your TDEE.
My general recommendation is to shoot for a 300-500 calorie drop from your TDEE to start. This is dependent on the individual and where their TDEE is to start. Individuals with a higher TDEE (like our example) can be more aggressive but for those who have lower TDEE’s (like smaller females) the smaller end of that range would work.
Dropping 500 calories from his 2954 calorie TDEE brings us to a goal calorie intake of 2454.
Let’s learn how to set up each macronutrient to fit this diet!
Setting Up The Diet Step #1 – Protein Intake
The first macronutrient that we want to set is our protein intake. Without adequate protein muscle will not be built is a surplus nor will it be protected in a dieting phase. Protein is an essential macronutrient to improve your body composition. But where do we set it?
There’s a lot of misinformation surrounding protein. Walk into any gym and you will find countless bros who are taking in nothing but protein. Luckily, you found this page. Most research will show that anywhere between 0.8 grams to 1.2 grams per pound of lean body mass (LBM) will do the trick. You can use the lower end of the spectrum in a caloric surplus and the higher end in a deficit to protect muscle from being lost.
We will say that our subject wishes to lose a little body fat. He’s in good shape now but wants to really slim down for a vacation in the coming months. For simplicity, we will say that he is 20% body fat at 200 pounds which means that he has 160 pounds of lean body mass (200 x .8). We can take 1.2 x 160 to determine his protein intake – again, taking the higher end because energy is at a premium and we want to prevent as much muscle loss as we can. We come to 192 grams of protein and in this scenario, I am going to round it up to 200 grams just to be on the safe side (muscle is precious).
The next step is determining the calories from protein and then subtracting that number from our TDEE. 200 grams of protein x 4 calories per gram comes to 800 calories in total for his daily protein consumption. Not bad.
Taking 2454 calories – 800 calories and we have 1654 calories left in his diet to be used towards carbohydrates and fats.
Setting Up The Diet Step #2 – Fat Intake
The next macronutrient that you will want to determine is your dietary fat intake. Dietary fat plays an important role in nutrient absorption and the regulation of hormones. It’s for that reason that certain minimums must be met. It’s recommended that you go no lower than 0.3 grams of fat per pound of lean body mass with recommended ranges between 0.3 and 0.5 grams.
Assuming the low end of the spectrum, 0.3 grams per pound of LBM, our example would need at minimum 48 grams of fat per day. Again, I like to round up to be safe, so we can call this 50 grams.
The next step is to calculate the total calories from fat and subtract these from what is remaining in our calorie goal.
50 grams of fat x 9 calories per gram = 450 calories coming from fat.
1654 calories (goal – protein intake) minus 450 calories from fat equals 1204 calories we need to get from carbohydrates.
Setting Up The Diet Step #3 – Carbohydrate Intake
The last part in setting up your initial diet is figuring out your carbohydrate intake. Carbohydrates provide essential fuel for the body during high-intensity activities so if you are training a lot and exercising, you need a good amount of carbohydrates in your diet.
Still, you need to be conscious of your goals – whether that is to lose or gain weight – and need to fill in the rest of your diet with an amount of carbohydrates that align with that.
Let’s revisit our example of a 30-year old, 6-foot tall, 200-pound male who is looking to lose some body fat. Our initial TDEE was 2954 calories (the number of calories he could eat to maintain his current body mass). From there, we selected to drop calories by 500 – which places him in a deficit that is needed in order to lose body fat. This brought our goal caloric intake to 2454. Next, we established his protein intake using the recommended 1.2 grams per pound of LBM. We determined that this male should eat 200 grams of protein per day – 800 calories worth – which brought our total calorie intake down to 1654. We then had to assign fats (a required macronutrient for optimal health and hormone function). Using the minimum recommended amount of 0.3 grams per pound of LBM, we determined that this male needed roughly 50 grams of fats per day – totaling 450 calories from fat.
We now have 1204 calories to assign to carbohydrates and since each gram of carbohydrates contains 4 calories, this male should eat roughly 301 grams of carbohydrates per day.
*** Note: Carbohydrate intake may vary depending on the individual, their activity level, and their preference. If needed, you can exchange some grams left for carbohydrates and increase fats. ***
In part 1, we taught you how to determine your TDEE and in part 2, how to assign macronutrients based on the number of calories that you need to eat.
In the next blog post (at a later date), we will help you understand how to create a deficit or a surplus and how to make adjustments along the way. Stay tuned!