I’m a true believer in the basic concept of nutrition.
But for those who want to reach their inner science nerd, the basics of counting macros is super easy and can be done in just three simple steps:
IIFYM focuses on meeting daily macro goals rather than spending all your time counting calories and avoiding certain foods. When done correctly, IIFYM provides a consistent calorie intake, but one that can be personalized in endless different ways.
IIFYM has some really great benefits that allow you to be much more flexible in the foods you eat. You don't have to worry so much about the restrictive dietary behaviors that will ultimately impact your performance during training or in social environments. The only downside is if you're not careful, you can miss out on many of the micronutrients your body needs or find yourself overloading with sub-optimal proteins and carbs.
IIFYM even has a bit of flexibility! As long as your plus or minus 10% of your daily macro goals, you can consider that a success!
Protein - When you eat protein, it’s broken down into amino acids. Then, those amino acids are used to build all sorts of cells and body tissues like muscles. The more you lift, the more protein you need to rebuild your muscles.
Your protein intake should be approximately 1.25 x your bodyweight
Carbohydrates – Your body uses carbs as an immediate source of energy. Carbs are broken down into glucose (sugar) when eaten. From there, your body produces a hormone called insulin, which is responsible for transporting glucose to your muscles to be used as energy. This insulin not only removes the blood sugar from your bloodstream but also helps to transport the amino acids from the protein you eat for muscle recovery. Glucose that is not used as immediate energy is stored by your body for future use (fat). So, although eating carbs has a pretty bad rap, as long as you’re not over-eating them, they actually have much more benefit for your health.
Your carb intake will definitely be a little bit different and more difficult to measure than your protein intake. I like to use two rules of thumb when counting this macro:
Carbs account for 40-45% of your daily calories and your intake should look as follows:
Fats – First things first on fats, they are absolutely not all created equal. In the food example sheet below, you’ll notice that the fats listed are dietary fats that provide your body with the essential fatty acids and ability to absorb vitamins. Fats are like the lube of the body, they keep things running smoothly while it puts in all that work.
Multiply your body weight in pounds by 0.5 to find your target fat intake (in grams).
There’s an awesome and free resource that automatically provides your macros based on bodyweight and goal that I’ve made available to you here. Here’s what it looks like:
So, for a 25-year-old man who weighs 200 lb and stands at 5'10", looking to do some cutting, their total caloric intake would be 1778 calories per day, with 65 grams of fat, 133 grams of carbs, and 164 grams of protein. (that dude is probably going to be pretty damn hungry).
Now that you've learned what IIFYM is and learned how you can get your target macros, now it's time to build your plan and count your macros!
It starts with your total macro count, let's use the example above!
Our target is 1778 calories per day:
Later on, I'll talk a bit about carb cycling and how to do that but first, let's simplify it!
Say you plan to consume a conservative four meals per day, so you'll split your target macros by four. So each meal would have 16.25 grams of fat, 33.25 grams of carbs, and 41 grams of protein.
From there, it's pretty straight forward. Just use my Nutrition Facts Search Tool to look up your favorite foods and build them into a meal that fits your macro targets! So as an example:
Target Protein - 41 grams:
Target Carbohydrates - 133 grams:
One cup of white rice has 44.5g of carbs, so 33.25 divided by 44.5 = 3/4 a cup of white rice for our meal
Target Fats - 16.25 grams:
Meal one is now complete! Just do this for your other meals for the week (you can even calculate the number of macros you consume over seven days to cook your meals for the week!
Though there’s no hard guideline on the specific foods that you eat, here are a few examples below of healthy foods that you can integrate into your diet. My advice is to do some research on “free meal prep recipes,” then plan your meals accordingly on a weekly basis.
You can get a bit more advanced with your diet and meals by adjusting your carb intake to account for when you're going to need that fuel and when you won't. In this video, I explain how:<
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