Learn to track your macros for sustained fat loss.
My Thoughts On Macro Tracking
In my opinion, tracking your macros is the first step in achieving optimal health so that you can be healthy, energized, and ready to take on any goal you have in life. What really grinds my gears is that in the current education system, nutrition classes are not required. But we have to take math, english, science, and humanities classes from elementary up until sophomore year in college...unless of course you are going into the health care industry or major in exercise science. It just doesn't make any sense to me because we eat to live. Food is medicine, food is a drug, food feeds our brain, our body, and controls the outcome of our overall health. I think it's kind of important we learn the basics of nutrition in order to live healthy, happy lives.
The awesome part about tracking your macros is that you are learning about nutrition through pure experience. You learn what you currently consume and why you look and feel the way you do, you automatically rewire your brain to read and look at nutritional labels, learn the effects that different foods have on your mind and body, and you will become a pro guesstimater of anything you consume which will ultimately simplify your life.
Macronutrients make up majority of the human diet. They are protein, fats, and carbohydrates. The point of tracking them is to easily reach your fitness goals. The common term revolved around tracking macronutrients is "IIFYM" (if it fits your macros) or flexible dieting. Meaning that as long as you meet your daily calorie and macronutrient intake you will reach your fitness goals whether you're trying to burn fat or build muscle. Even if you are consuming pop tarts, cupcakes, or donuts. It's not so much of what you eat but how much you eat. "The only way to burn fat consistently is to put yourself in a calorie deficit."
Protein: 4 calories per 1 gram
Carbs: 4 calories per 1 gram
Fats: 9 calories per 1 gram
Here are the 6 steps to simply calculate your own Total Daily Energy Expenditure and put yourself in an enjoyable calorie deficit to start burning fat today! :)
Step 1: Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
Basal Metabolic Rate - is the amount of energy your body expends at rest in a given day.
- Body weight (lbs.)
- Body Fat % (guesstimate from pictures below)
- Go to ( http://www.calculatorpro.com/calculator/katch-mcardle-bmr-calculator/ ) and that number is your REE.
Step 2: Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)
Total Daily Energy Expenditure - is the total amount of calories your body expends in a given day.
Multiply your BMR by an activity multiplier (BMR X ___)
- Little to no exercise = 1.1
- Light activity (1-3 days/week) = 1.2
- Moderate activity (3-5 days/week) = 1.35
- Very active (6-7 days/week) = 1.45
That number is your TDEE.
Step 3: Calorie Deficit
Now you have your TDEE and pretty accurately know how many calories you burn in a given day. That number is your 'maintenance level' which means if you ate around that amount of calories you will essential maintain your current weight. Now you must put yourself in a calorie deficit in order to consistently lose weight. Here are two examples of how low of a deficit to put yourself in.
- Average person - (TDEE - 500)
- Obese person - (TDEE - 750)
This is your daily calorie intake which will put you in an enjoyable calorie deficit in order to easily burn 1-2 pounds of fat per week. Next I will show you how to properly distribute your macronutrients for fat loss and to build muscle.
Step 4: Proper Macro Ratio
- Protein: Protein plays an important role when "dieting" because it helps sustain your lean muscle mass. What I always recommend is to consume 0.8-1 lb. per pound of your goal body weight. Example: so if I weighed 180 lbs. and I want to be 165 lbs. I would consume anywhere between 132-165 grams of protein per day (0.8 X 165 / 1 X 165).
- Fat: Eating fat does not make you fat...This fad started in 1992 in the USDA Food Pyramid (I'm sure we've all learned about the food pyramid) when they encouraged americans to adopt a low fat diet and that it is okay to consume six to eleven servings of high glycemic carbs such as cereal, pasta, and rice which is the ultimate cause of obesity because they are high in calories, enter the bloodstream quickly which promotes weight gain, and cause more hunger cravings. So do not be worried from consuming fats. I recommend setting your fat intake to 25%-30%. Formula = (calorie deficit # X 0.3) divided by 9.
- Carbohydrates: Carbs are the most important macronutrient. I always hear when people are dieting the first thing they think to do is to go "low carb" which negatively effects your body and is unsustainable. You'll be surprised of how many carbs you'll be allowed to eat, but for good reason. you'll have better workouts, you'll have an increase in your energy and mood throughout the day, plus it helps with building strength and muscle while you are burning off fat. So, the rest of your calories are going to come from carbs. Here's how you set it up.
- Calorie deficit # - (grams of protein X 4) + (grams of fat X 9) divided by 4 = Daily carb intake
If I weigh 180 pounds and my goal weight is 165 pounds here is my calorie deficit and macro ratio.
- TDEE = 2,600 - 500 = 2,100
- Daily Calorie Deficit = 2,100
- Daily Protein Intake = 165 grams
- Daily fat intake: (2,100 X 0.25) divided by 9 = 58 grams
- Daily Carb Intake: 2,100 - [grams of protein (165) X 4] + [grams of fat (58) X 9] divided by 4 = 230 grams
Step 5: 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule simply means that 80% of your daily intake will come from nutrient dense foods such as lean meats, low glycemic carbs, and healthy fats. The last 20% will come from essentially anything you desire! Pizza, burgers, fries, donuts, etc. Because as long as everything fits within your macros you will inevitably reach your goals. This takes away all the stress that comes from eating junk food and feeling guilty about it. The cycle usually goes like this...sweet tooth/craving, binge eating, hours of cardio. You will learn to balance your diet and have fun playing around with different types of meal plans and foods. Following the 80/20 rule allows you to eat the foods you enjoy everyday and takes away the whole concept of cheat meals.
DL Nutrition App
Now you must download a nutrition application on your phone. I personally use "MyPlate" (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/myplate-calorie-tracker/id502317923?mt=8) because it is very simple and easy to navigate through. Another good one is "MyFitnessPal" (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/calorie-counter-diet-tracker/id341232718?mt=8).
Track & Tweak
Now you can start tracking your daily macronutrient intake. Make sure you weigh yourself every week to make sure you are losing weight. You should on average be losing anywhere from 1-2 pounds per week, it varies for everyone. If you hit a plateau or are not losing weight like you should then you need to analyze and make sure you are tracking everything correctly because it is all based on serving sizes in which you can scan on the application and it will show you. The biggest mistake people make is not tracking their sauces/condiments and their drinks (sports drinks/juices/starbuck's coffee). Otherwise if you are in a 500 calorie deficit maybe bump it up to 750 and try that out for a week. The key is to make sure you are enjoying all of your meals, you are full and satisfied, and you are losing weight. This isn't a diet, it's a lifestyle. Check out my last blog post to see the 3 awesome benefits that come from tracking your macros "3 Reasons You Should Track Your Macros".
Step 6: Meal Frequency
This is completely determined on the type of lifestyle you live, when you have time to eat, and when you most enjoy eating. For me, I don't really like breakfast so I skip breakfast and will eat a snack (fruit) during the day then have 2 big meals at night. I usually tell my clients to rate 1-4 there favorite meals of the day (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks) then go from there. Here are three sample meal plans to give you a basis idea of how to structure your day.
Meal Plan #1:
- Morning: Breakfast
- Afternoon: Lunch
- Night: Dinner
Meal Plan #2
- Morning: Snack
- Afternoon: Lunch
- Night: Dinner
Meal Plan #3
- Morning: Skip
- Afternoon: Snack + Late Lunch
- Night: Dinner
It is obviously smart to get on some sort of workout plan to accelerate fat loss and to be able to build strength and lean muscle while you are burning fat. So if anyone is interested in getting on a workout program or needs further help with their nutrition you can shoot me an email and we will be in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org). My most recent client went from weighing 245 pounds to 225 pounds within 2 months of strength training 3 days per week and being in an enjoyable calorie deficit. Burning fat while building muscle has never been easier!