You clicked on this article for one of two reasons; you want to know what your macros should be or you are wondering what the heck they are.
We’ve all heard the word, but what does the word really mean in terms of dieting or muscle gain?
If you want to lose weight, maintain your current weight, or gain muscle, you need to know what your macro’s are. What the heck is a macro? Good question
Macro is short for Macronutrient(s). We are talking about fat, protein, and carbs and how much you need of each to lose, gain, or maintain your weight.
Another great question! This depends on several things; however, let’s take a look at a few things first. Before you begin to understand macros, let’s consider the following:
Now if we were to look at 200 grams of chicken breast, for example, we might find that it contains:
Chicken Breast (200grams) contains
Stick with us here- we are going somewhere with this:
This means that a half cup serving (4 ounces or a little more than 100 grams) contains:
Makes sense, right?
Now, knowing this information, how can you figure out your macros?
For Losing Weight: Think high protein, low carb, low fat
For Weight Maintenance: Think Moderation!
For Gaining Muscle: High Prottein, Think Low Fat
Depending on how quickly you want to lose weight, expect your total caloric intake to be between 8 and 12 calories per pound.
Ann, a 5’5’ female weighs 180 pounds and has 35% body fat. She wants to lose weight as quickly as possible but doesn’t want to endanger her health by starving. What are her macros?
If you are unsure of your body fat percentage, this calculator will help you figure it out.
Step 1 – Determine Your Protein Intake
Minimum protein intake for anyone is 0.7 grams per pound. If you do lots of exercise or weight training, you will definitely need more. Using Ann as our example, she wants to lose weight quickly so:
0.7 grams -1.2 grams per pound of lean muscle mass
Lean muscle mass = weight - bodyfat = 180 - 63 (180*0.35) = 117 lbs
Protein = 117*0.7=82 grams.
To lose weight as quickly as possible, Ann can consume 82 grams of protein each day.
Step 2 - Determine Your Fat Intake
As many people have discovered, low fat diets are bland, boring, and not at all satisfying. Although you might see low-fat foods everywhere, the truth is that moderate fat consumption is not only healthy, but has a tendency to make people stick to sensible eating habits.
Fat not only blunts hunger pangs, it allows for a wider variety of foods, which in turn leads to better health due to the absorption of fat soluble vitamins, such as A, E, D, and K, but makes food taste better! Better tasting food means more satisfaction!
Like protein, a reasonable amount of fat consumption is somewhere in the area of 0.7 grams per pound to 1 gram of fat per pound. Ann wants to lose weight quickly, so she chooses 0.8 grams of fat.
This means that, for Ann, 0.8*117= 93.6 (let’s just call it 94) grams of fat per day will help her lose weight quickly.
Step 3 - Determine Your Carbohydrate Intake
Believe it or not, you actually don’t need carbs at all. The body has no real need for them other than a minimum amount of carbs, which your body can make for itself or can obtain from other food sources. So while there is NO minimum requirement, technically, we still don’t want the body to be forced to break down lean muscle mass for carbs when we engage in serious exercise.
The typical amount of carbs recommended to lose weight is somewhere between 20 and 80 grams of carbs per day. The lower the number, the faster you will lose weight.
Keep in mind that some people simply don’t feel well, unless they are getting a minimum of 50 to 100 grams of carbs, so listen to your body in this area.
However, for our subject Ann, we are going to choose 50 grams of carbs per day.
So now that we have Ann’s numbers, it breaks down to look like this:
82g (protein) + 94g (Fat) + 50g (Carbs) = 1,374 calories.
When planning your meal prep, if you break this down into three meals, the macros are:
27g of protein + 31g of fat + 17g of carbs = 458 calories per meal
Of course, you might not want to make all your meals equal in terms of calories and/or protein/carbs/fat, but this gives you an idea about how your macros might look for any given day.
Now That You Understand These Numbers
Once you figure out your macros, you might do meal planning with the following ingredients and numbers:
Let’s say you want to make a basic chicken, broccoli, and brown rice meal plans. For one of those 5 day meal plans, your recipe would call for:
Total for one meal: 27.5 grams of protein, 20 grams of fat, 17 grams of carbs. If you would like to learn how to meal prep this exact meal for one week (5 days) you can get the recipe and instructions here.