Hands up if you’ve sort of heard of macro counting – but aren’t quite sure where to start? *raises hand* Read on for ultimate clarification, thanks to Sophie Dillon, nutritionist at Fresh Fitness Food…
“Finding the right balance of macros can not only help you lose, maintain or gain weight, it can significantly impact the quality of your results,” she says.
“Carbohydrates are used mainly for energy. People who do a lot of endurance (cardio) training or any team sport for a prolonged period of time will need more carbohydrates to fuel their training. When stored carbohydrate in our muscles is depleted performance goes down dramatically and athletes hit what is known as the ‘wall’.
Fats provide lots of energy in a compact form. This is great if you are looking to gain weight, but struggle to eat enough calories. Topping up your meals with healthy fats such as nuts, olives and avocado can help to increase your calories without increasing the volume of your meals too much.
Protein is not recognised primarily as an energy source, but instead as a building block for all bodily tissues, some enzymes and hormones. Old, growing, pregnant or people recovering from injury have an increased need for protein. Either because they are losing tissue or because they are trying to (re)build tissue. Exercise causes muscle damage and muscle then adapts, creating stronger or more efficient muscles. To enable this adaptation, protein is needed.”
Where to start with macro counting
“To work out your required macros, you first need to determine your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). This is the amount of energy you burn in a day. It takes into account your resting energy expenditure, as well as your physical activity level.
The industry-standard formula that we use is the Harris-Benedict formula (most recent version ‘Mifflin-St Jeor’).
Using a 21 year old female who is 168cm tall, weighs 70kg and exercises 2-3 times per week as an example:
Step 1: Work out your Resting Energy Expenditure (REE) (10 x weight (kg)) + (6.25 x height (cm)) – (5 x age) – 161 = 1,484 calories
Step 2: Work out your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) Sedentary = REE x 1.2 Lightly Active = REE x 1.375 Moderately Active = REE x 1.55 Very Active = REE x 1.75 For our example, I have selected lightly active.
So, 1,484 calories x 1.375 = 2040.5 calories per day. This TDEE (2040.5 calories) is the amount of energy burned throughout the day.
How to achieve your goals
“From this point, you need to determine the deficit or surplus required to achieve your desired goal. For example, we apply a 20% calorie deficit for our Fat Loss clients and a macro split of 40% protein, 20% carbs and 40% fat. A 20% deficit would therefore equal 1632.4 calories, which would be the amount needed per day to lose weight.”
To work out her macros from this, we need to know the following:
Protein = 4kcal per 1g
Carbohydrates = 4kcal per 1g
Fat = 9kcal per 1g
Using our calories per day, we can then work out how many grams of each macro is need. We do this by:
Calories per day x (% of macro / 100) / kcal per g
So, for example for protein it would be 1632.4cals x (40/100) / 4 = 163g of protein per day
Completing this for every macro would reflect the following for our example:
Calories per day: 1632.4cals
Protein per day: 163g
Carbs per day: 81.6g
Fat per day: 72.5g
Knowledge is power, after all. if you want to calculate your macros, now you can.
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Charlotte is a London girl through and through. She sweats through spin and puffs through Pilates to justify trying the latest restaurants and devouring copious amounts of sweet potato fries, burrata and bread – preferably on holiday. Her favourite destinations include Italy, the Maldives and anywhere where the sun’s shining and there’s a strong breakfast buffet. She’s obsessed with walking, visiting farmers’ markets and reading. She’s also learning to cook. Wish her (and her husband) luck.