By Spaniard Anabolic Minds
This article will detail the specifics of recommended macronutrient intakes.
Hey guys, welcome back to another Nutrition and Eating Basics article. In the last article we covered how the body reacts to a surplus, deficit and steady state of caloric intake. Now, I have to preface this by saying that macronutrient intake is an extremely controversial topic. The aim here is to give a brief outlook on which macronutrients to utilize for which purpose you choose. Not to tell you any one right or wrong way to eat. There are many ways to reach your goals.
Now, I’m not touting myself as a guru (I hate that word) nor an expert in the field but I have studied most of this stuff inside and outside of school and have gained a ton of knowledge via first-hand experience. The thing about me is that I will never see myself as an expert, as I will always continue to learn from those much smarter than myself and believe me they are out there in abundant amounts hahah!. Alright, let’s get into it.
For those that didn’t read part 1, here’s a quick recap:
Basal Metabolic Rate and TDEE
- Eat at a deficit to your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) (BMR+additional energy requirements = TDEE) = Lose weight (not tissue specific)
- Eat at a surplus to your TDEE = Add weight (not tissue specific)
- Eat at maintenance to your TDEE, meaning no more no less than what your body requires for energy = Stay the same.
*Additional energy expenditures must be accounted for, which is termed total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). BMR + additional energy expenditure = TDEE
Protein = 4 kilocalories/g
Carbohydrates = 4 kcals/g
Fat = 9 kcals/g
Alcohol = 7 kcals/g
Protein is responsible for many endogenous (in the body) tasks. Think of proteins as buildings that are broken down (catabolized) into bricks. Those bricks are known as amino acids, I am sure you are all very familiar with what amino acids are, some of you are probably sipping on some right now. So, what the body does here is essentially tears down the building (chicken or another protein source) into bricks (amino acids) and then reconstructs them in the body to form proteins and skeletal muscle. This process is known as anabolism.
In addition to being used to synthesize proteins and skeletal muscle, protein also has a few additional side benefits such as possibly having a higher thermic effect than other macros, being less likely to be stored as fat, being able to be broken down into units that are useable as energy, and so on. Let’s just say that protein has many benefits for those of us that hope to be able to continue dancing to LMFAO Sexy and I Know It, with our shirts off, in the presence of other humans .
As you can see protein is immensely important. Protein along with fats are also essential, meaning, they must be consumed in the diet. This is in direct contrast to carbohydrates which can be made from both protein and fat. We’ll talk about all of that later, back to protein.
Recommended protein intake varies depending upon whom is giving the advice and or where you are getting your information. My personal opinion for protein intake is at least 1-1.5/lb of bodyweight, I personally shoot for 1.25 at the moment. Now, people will say that it is specifically recommended to take in 1g/lb of lean body mass, which would be your weight minus your body fat percentage, I disagree. Eating additional protein versus additional fats and carbs is much more advisable than extra carbs and fats, in my opinion. That is to say, as long as you are hitting those macro intakes. What I mean by that is, if your set intake for fat is 70g and you’re at 70 but have additional calories to dish out, throw them towards protein before fats or carbs.
This series of articles is meant to give people a brief overview of a good starting place and at least 1-1.5g/lb of BW is the perfect place to start. I guess I should also say that this doesn’t apply to those using hormones, so…
Carbohydrates are referred to as non-essential, since they are not required. The body can operate without them, it can, it’s not fun, but it can be done. To really understand why carbohydrates are important, it’s important to know why. There are two types of respiration, aerobic and anaerobic respiration. Both types of respiration generate ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is cellular energy. Aerobic respiration utilizes oxygen and fat for ATP production, whereas anaerobic respiration utilizes glucose. Lifting weights and other explosive types of training such as crossfit and HIIT utilize the anaerobic pathway for ATP biosynthesis.
Carbohydrates, similarly to proteins and fats are consumed and then broken down into their respective subunits – monosaccharides (unless already in base form). The metabolization of carbohydrates provides glucose, which if you remember correctly is utilized during anaerobic respiration. I genuinely hope it sounds semi-familiar, it was literally in the last paragraph… Do you see why a carbohydrate source and thusly glucose is so important? Anaerobic respiration is the cellular process that provides your body with the energy to do all those sets, sprints and kips. Therefore, I believe carbohydrates to be necessary for those that are engaging in physical activity such as these.
One of the downsides to carbohydrates is that people can react differently to them. On a positive note, that usually makes carbohydrates the variable, which once you have figured out makes gaining or losing much easier. Knowing this, it’s important not to overdo carbs, well, aside from protein, it’s important not to overdo any macronutrient. I personally suggest eating carbohydrate amounts based on the type of activity that will generate energy via anaerobic respiration. Otherwise, unlike protein, carbohydrates are stored as fat rather easily.
There is a pretty broad range for recommended intake for carbohydrates, so I would highly recommend to start at a moderate range, unless you partake in high intensity training frequently, and adjust as necessary. A decent starting point for carbohydrates can be 1.2g-3g/lb of bodyweight. Again, this is highly specific to each individual and their respective activity levels. 1.2g would be recommended for those that sometimes partake in physical activity and 3g would be for someone that frequently partakes in HIIT.
Another way that is often utilized to calculate carbohydrate intake is to set protein and fat intake and then fill the rest of your caloric intake with carbohydrates but again, in my opinion, for athletes and those engaging in a lot of high intensity training you should focus on protein (make sure to get at the minimum 1g/lb IMO), then carbs and finally, fill with fats. However, and this is the real tricky thing about nutrition, you also do not want to drop fats too low.
Fats like proteins and carbs, come either as a single unit or consisting of multiple “chains” of fatty acids. There is much more to the chemistry of fats but I would probably bore you to death with explaining why saturated fats are saturated, why they are considered monomers or polymers, how they’re arranged etc. Therefore, we will just get right into why they’re important.
New(ish) emerging evidence (thankfully) has shown fats not to be the evil force that they once were touted by our government to be and are now actually being recommended to be consumed as part of a healthy diet. Fats play many vital roles in the body such as being hormone precursors, having cardioprotective properties and storing ample amounts of energy, more so in fact, than both protein and carbs hence 9g vs 4g and 4g. Okay so, this evidence isn’t new but what is new is the gov guidlines finally not condemning a macronutrient as the sole cause of all things bad. First fats were the bad seed and then it was carbs and now, here we are, finally realizing that the dietary guidelines have zero relevance to anything healthy or helpful, aside from folic acid that is.
There are a few different recommendations out there, I will highlight a few. Like previously stated you can simply, take your protein intake and carbohydrate intake, add those up and then fill with fats. You can also do as Alan Aragon recommends in an article or two, that you can simply half your weight and consume that amount in grams. For instance, I’m 185 currently, I would consume 92.5g of fat. It’s actually, in my opinion a decent guideline, as I myself usually consume fat at the range of about 65g (at the lowest) to about 95g of fat. Recently, I have been consuming fats on the lower end to incorporate a larger amount of carbs, which has seemed to work well for me.
Putting it all together
If you wish to try and put together a diet based upon tools that I have outlined within this article use the recommendations in each specific macro breakdown or another way others have done this is to use a rather arbitrary percentage system. By arbitrary I mean that the percentage isn’t specific to a gram to any weight measurement recommendation but instead is a non-specific way of going about setting up macro ratios, which is also an easy way to go about programming macro ratios for your caloric intake.
40% Protein = 800 calories
800 calories/4g for protein = 200g of protein
40% Fat = 800 calories
800 calories/9g for fat = 88.8g of fat
20% Carbs = 400 calories
400 calories/4g for carbs = 100g of carbs
^That is what a 40/40/20 split would look like. This is just an example, not something I am advising. Those carbs are farrr tooo low for my liking. There are other splits as well 30/40/30, 35/35/30/ and so on…
Example based on BW rules
We’ll use my weight – 185. Before I calculate this, take note that a ball park of my recommended intake is about 2600 for my current studious activity level. Let’s see if it checks out
Starting with protein – 1.25g/lb=231.25g
231.25gx4 (remember, you multiply 4 here due to the calorie content per gram of protein)=925 calories
Carbs 1.2g/lb=222 (Based on my activity level. If I were to conduct more sprints, truck pulls etc I would consume more carbs)
222×4 (for carbs cal allotment/g)=888
Scenario 1 – Using half of my weight in fat as a template:
185/2=92.5g of fat
Pro 925+Carbs 888+Fat 832.5=2,645
Pretty damn close, eh?
Scenario 2 starting at carbs (filling with fat)
Pro 925+Carbs 888=1813
2600 (recommended intake) -1813=787 portion needing to be filled with fats
787/9 (fats are 9)=87.4g of fat
Bringing us to 231g of Protein, 222g of Carbs and 87g of Fat to get me to total 2600 calories…
As you can see there are many ways to really get the same results. A word to the wise, quit worrying about the little ****. I’ve been stressing this for a long time now, DO NOT stress about minute aspects that will likely not benefit you any more than just setting a diet and abiding by it. Obsessively overanalyzing which diet is best, which foods are best and other obsession driven facets are only going to detract your attention away from what you really need to be worrying about – hitting your goals, working out and living life.
Don’t ever quit or give up on your goals, if you ever need help, feel free to hit me up or post a comment here. I want to see you guys reach your goals. Again, I can’t stress this enough, set a diet, eat, exercise and you WILL see your goals become reality, trust me.