Macros, macros, macros! What are they? Why does it matter? Well, I’ll try to answer all these questions and give you some tools for how to calculate YOUR macros, but first let’s take a small step back. Good nutrition is as fundamental to getting the physique you want as the training is, but it is usually the area most overlooked by people; either because they don’t understand how important it is, they don’t know how to do it properly, or eating right simply doesn’t fit with a busy lifestyle.
Whether it’s getting a ‘six-pack’ or losing some weight, I want to help you achieve your fitness goals. If you want to learn more, read on!
There are basically 3 key ingredients to getting your diet right:
- Eating the correct number of calories for your body and fitness goals
- Splitting those calories between the right mix of ‘macros’
- Making sure you eat the right types of food for (1) and (2)
How to calculate your macros
If you want to cut to the chase then head to the bottom of this post and download my FREE macro calculator. But if you want to know some of the background first, then read on. Firstly, there are a couple of technical terms it’s worth knowing – BMR or Basal Metabolic Rate and TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure). Your BMR is based on your age, height, gender and weight; it is basically the amount of energy expended by your body at rest (in calories). You’re TDEE is particularly important because this takes into account how much exercise you do each week. It’s your BMR multiplied by the appropriate ‘activity factor‘ depending on how much exercise you are doing.
So if, for example, your BMR was 1,800 calories and you were doing ‘moderate’ exercise (3-4 times a week), which is what you should be aiming for, then your TDEE would be 1,800 x 1.55 = 2,790.
The next important thing to think about in how to calculate your macros are what your goals are. Do you want to maintain your current level with a steady improvement? Do you want to lose fat and tone up? Do you want to gain muscle mass?
These are important things to think about. Whilst most people would say they want to lose fat and tone, it is important to remember that you can’t really do this AND gain significant muscle (see my post on ‘bulking’). So if you are in the early stages of building your physique you might want to opt for “Maintain” in the calculator in order to do a bit of both.
Understanding Your Body Type
The final thing to think about is body type and whether you tend to easily put on weight with a slower metabolism (Endomorphs), have a relatively athletic build already (Mesomorphs) or have a skinny build and find it hard to gain either muscle or fat (Ectomorph). Depending on which you are, this has an impact on the split of protein, carbohydrate and fats you should have in your diet. People with a high propensity to gain weight should generally gear their diet toward protein over carbs, whilst anyone with a very lean physique should aim to eat more carbs to help build up.
For a full download on different body types check out this article.
Once you’ve worked out your body type, you can then put that together with your TDEE calorie intake (adjusted up or down for your goals) to calculate your macros using our calculator!
Protein / Carbohydrates / Fats
I’m not going to go into all the ins and outs of why you need to get enough of each of these food groups, but it’s important to know that they are all as critical as each other to a healthy body. Especially after taking into account your body type.
A couple of rules of thumb though that it is work considering – protein is a key part of any diet regardless of your goals but if you want to build muscle then you need to be eating a minimum of 2.5x your bodyweight (kg) in grams. So if you weigh 80kg then you need to eat at least 200g per day.
A lot has been written about low carb diets but I wouldn’t suggest cutting out carbs for any significant period of time. Never miss out fats either. They are absolutely key to giving you energy and having the right amount from the right sources will not “make you fat”.
I’ve written a load of posts on ‘clean eating’ like this one so I won’t go into too much detail here, but below are some simple food recommendations to get you started. You can also read my previous post about the diet that gave me a six-pack. One final thought – don’t forget to eat your greens! It is really important to have a good source of fibre and vitamins in every meal so make sure you have lots of veg and salad as well.
- Lean steak (like Rump steak)
- White fish
- Mackerel and Salmon (good for fats too)
- Sweet potato
- Brown rice
- Brown pasta
- Oats / porridge
- Olive oil
- Sunflower oil
- Sesame oil
- Nut butter (in moderation)
- Fatty fish
Get the LIVE | WORK | TRAIN macro calculator!
This FREE enhanced macro calculator accurately calculates the right number of calories and split of macros based on your fitness goals and body type, using some simple stats related to your age, height and weight, combined with the amount of exercise you do. If you want to get a full low-down on how it all works then check out this article from Bodyvision which has a great detailed summary. There are other online calculators around but they are generally overly simplistic and don’t take into account body type to give you the right macro balance. I’ve also found that they don’t really reflect the kind of nutrition that I personally follow myself. Download it here: Live Work Train – Macro Calculator.
If you have any questions feel free to get in touch. Enjoy and good luck!