Table of Contents
Macro-nutrients are the three main food groups – protein, carbohydrates and fat. To put it very simply, they’re what your body runs off.
Many people like the idea of diets based around certain foods, such as high-protein or vegetarian diets, or meal plans that exclude certain food groups, like the paleo diet which bans grains and dairy, Atkins which excludes most carbohydrates, or the cabbage soup diet, which limits you to nothing but, well, cabbage soup, surprisingly.
The trouble is, all these diets are highly restrictive and your body doesn't work by processing particular foods, it works by breaking down protein, fat and carbohydrate.
This is why a macronutrient based approach is a far more practical and effective method of dieting.
On a macronutrient diet, you firstly need to work out your calorie intake (more on that in a while) then set a breakdown for your proteins, carbs and fats. This bit shouldn’t be too hard, so let’s look at that now.
There are a number of calculations that exist for working out your calorie needs, with the most common being the BMR and Harris Benedict equation. However, to keep things easy, let’s just do one simple sum. Take your bodyweight in pounds and multiply it by between 13 and 17.
This is a large range, but the trick is to work out how high or low you need your multiple to be. Those who are naturally larger and carry more fat should go with 13 or 14. If you’re lean and muscular, multiply your weight by 16 or 17, and if you’re somewhere in the middle, 14 to 16 should do. Be honest here – don’t be too kind and give yourself a bigger intake so you can eat more. Likewise going too low and thinking that you’ll lose fat faster can be just as detrimental, as your progress will soon stall.
After working out your calories you need to find your protein goals
The easiest way to do this is to shoot for one gram of protein per pound of body-weight.
Protein has four calories per gram, so multiply your grams by four to find how many calories you’re getting from protein.
Next up, you have fat and carbs
Ratios do matter here, but provided you’re not going ultra low carb and high fat, or consuming virtually no fat but a tonne of carbs, you’ll be fine.
Carbs also have four calories per gram, so divide your carb calories by four to find the grams, while fat has nine calories per gram, so do the same sum but divide by nine.
Here’s an example for a 175 pound male of average build
Calories = 175 x15 = 2625
Protein = 175 grams
Protein Calories = 700
Calories from Carbs and Fat = 2625-700 = 1925
Divide by 2 = 962.5
Daily Carb Grams = 962.5 divided by 4 = 240 grams
Daily Fat Grams = 962.5 divided by 9 = 107 grams
175 grams of protein
240 grams of carbs
107 grams of fat
That wasn’t so hard, was it? By doing that you’ve already done what most people fail to tackle, and have worked out a solid start to your macronutrient diet. Next up comes the bit that most folks panic over, counting these macros on a day to day basis.