So many people in the fitness world have crossed over from using meal plans to using macros. It’s about time someone explained the hows, whys, and whats of #IIFYM (if it fits your macros).
What is a Macro Diet:
“Macros” is short for macronutrients, i.e. protein, carbs, and fat (Note: alcohol is also a macro, but needs its own section). When your trainer, a magazine, or another source gives you a “macro” count of how much to eat per day, or there’s a recipe that tells you how many macros are in a food, then it’s talking about the ratio of proteins/ carbs/fat. Carbs and protein have four calories per gram, and fat has nine calories per gram.
Why a Macro Diet:
If you’re like me, you like food. Being on a contest prep plan (or being in any caloric deficit) is rewarding and challenging, but brutal as heck, especially if you’re going longer than 12 weeks. Most people don’t enjoy eating the exact same things everyday; there aren’t enough dried seasoning blends in the world to make someone fall in love with two boiled chicken meals a day, everyday, for 16 weeks. But contest prep and dieting doesn’t have to be hell; welcome to the world of macros!
If you input your current meal plan of nothing but egg whites, chicken, rice, sweet potatoes, and protein shakes into an app like MyFitnessPal or MyMacros+, you might see it break into numbers like 150g of protein, 130g of carbs, and 50g of fat. What this means to you if you switch over to a more flexible way of dieting is that every day, you have 150/130/50 to play with. Whether that means finding a “macro-friendly” recipe on Pinterest for eggplant parmesan or eating an ice cream sandwich before bed, you can have it, as long as it fits your macros.
For example, if you start with 150/130/50, and make an egg white quiche in the morning with 10g of protein, 6g of carbs, and 2g of fat, then you have 140/124/48 to work with for the rest of your meals that day.
How to track your Macro diet:
Track everything you eat for three days to get a baseline number of calories you usually eat, i.e. 2000 calories/day.
Start with your bodyweight in protein, i.e. 150lbs = 150g protein.
Go no lower than 40–45g of fat per day if you’re a female, 30–35 for a male.
Fill in the blanks with carbs!
I.e. 1,500 calories total – 600 calories (150g protein x 4cal/gram) – 405 calories (45g fat x 9cal/gram) = 495 calories 124 grams of carbs (4 cal/gram).
More Insight: Check out this great article on nutrition before and after a workout!
Author: Nichelle Laus is the owner of Optimum Training Centre in Toronto, Ontario. A fitness and cover model, figure and bikini competitor, competition preparation and transformation coach for Team Laus, she is a certified personal trainer and kickboxing and kettlebell instructor. Nichelle is also a motivational speaker and a proud mom of four young boys.