Disclaimer: This blog is intended for the beginner, NOT the advanced gym rat or seasoned fitness buff. When you have several years of successful dieting under your belt you think differently because of your circumstances (athletic performance, could be one) are different. This is step one of many to get a beginner to where you are at now. We are just trying to master one thing at a time.
First off, if you have not read Part 1, I HIGHLY recommend you do so first before stepping into this blog. Otherwise you could be confused by things, and of course, I want this to be as simple as possible.
I should add a fair warning though, this blog involves… MATH <== Damn I know
As we summarized in the last blog one of the biggest components of diet success is calories. With a goal of losing fat, you will have to eat fewer calories than your body needs. If your goal is to GAIN weight, then you need to eat MORE. In PART 1 we talked about how to find YOUR calorie number.
Now that we got the BIG calorie equation out of the way we now need to talk about what’s next.
Pretty much, what do you eat NOW? I mean if you know that you need to be eating 1800 calories how much comes from protein? What about carbs? Fats? Is alcohol a carb? What the hell is a macro… is that short for macaroni and cheese?
Yet again, all the so-called interwebz “nutrition gods” have confused the hell out of everyone, so let me make this as simple as I can.
Let’s Talk About Macros.
In a weight loss or body comp plan macros (macronutrients) typically come in three forms:
Side Note: yes alcohol has its own macro for all you seasoned dieters but we are NOT talking about that in this blog, I’ll save that for another.
What I’m going to tell you is a culmination of science, literature and years personal observation for the sole purpose of helping the beginner design a meal plan for body composition for THEIR GOALS. Everything I’m going to tell you is, again, for the purpose of helping a beginner design their meal plan. This is not a debate on what diet is better.
For body comp purposes protein is the MOST IMPORTANT macro nutrition when designing a meal plan because it’s absolutely necessary to gain or keep the muscle that you have; for the purposes of this blog we don’t want to lose muscle mass.
Carbs are NOT the enemy! Say it with me, “carbs are NOT the enemy.” I’ve heard way too many people talk about how if you cut carbs you’ll lose weight or if you cut carbs after 6pm you’ll lose weight, if you cut sugars you’ll lose weight, blah blah blah..
Yes if you did all of that you’ll lose weight but NOT because you cut carbs, but because you cut calories.
You will want to have carbs in your diet, especially for those trying to maximize body composition (this includes fat loss and muscle maintenance) and carbs help with:
-CNS function (think of your brain)
-Energy for workouts, ever tried to workout on zero carbs… no bueno
-Motivation to workout. See line above.
-Insulin which helps shuttle nutrients to the rest the body
Basically this can make losing body fat MUCH MUCH easier when you have carbs.
I hope you don’t think that fats makes you fat.
Too much food makes you fat.
Fats help with certain hormonal functions that just make life easier. There are enough people with hormonal problems (think low testosterone in men and teenage girls… oh and you know who else I’m talking about) we don’t need anymore people with hormone misalignments so we always need to make sure that we never exclude fats from our diets.
Now that we covered the basics next comes the BIG BIG question…
How much of my diet should be protein, carbs, and fats?
Ahhhh… this is the one that everyone wants to know. How many grams, what’s the percentages, etc…
For the beginner just starting out you may wonder how many grams or how much you should eat of each macronutrient
Well this involves a bit of self analysis.
You may have heard about the body types example below and a lot of people preach about it, that’s because it works! It is great for those JUST STARTING out and it’s helped me design meal guidelines for those that are wondering what to do.
Body Type One:
You are naturally lean (I hate you) and tend to drop fat pretty easily (I really don’t like you); you have a faster metabolism and if anything, you struggle to keep weight on (seriously go away, why are you reading this lol)
You know who you are and typically these people do not struggle with losing weight, not to say that weight cannot be an issue because it most certainly can! But… not as likely.
For these people I recommend a diet composed of: 55% Carbs, 25% Protein, 20% Fats
The above numbers mean that out of ALL the calories they eat 55% of those calories will come from carbohydrates, 25% will come form proteins and the remainder will come from fats (below I’ll give an example on HOW to break this down)
Body Type Two
You are in the middle, a bit of an athletic build and carry some muscle well in some ways; you tend to neither lose weight nor gain weight easily but sit in the middle.
This is the person that I see that needs to lose SOME weight but nothing extreme, they are the average in some cases.
For these people I recommend a diet composed of: 40% Carbs, 30% Protein, 30% Fats.
Body Type Three
*usually the most common for people that need to drop a lot of weight*
You are thicker and fuller bodied. You tend to have a slower metabolism and can gain fat pretty quickly. Also your parents have crappy genetics in the metabolism department because you look at a carb and you gain weight. <=== seriously, that sucks.
For these people I recommend a diet composed of: 25% Carbs, 35% Protein, 40% Fats
Below is math for those that really want to figure some of this stuff up because you have an inner nerd that nutrition math is just porn for you, if that is you, that is cool, read on and maybe keep a few tissues handy (ewwww…). If you just don’t give a damn (which is totally cool, I’m like that with a lot of things) then just enter those percentages in your calorie tracking app and over the course of time you’ll know what you have to eat to hit those percentages.
Example for the curious.
Lets say that you have found out that your ideal calories for your body is 1900 a day and you are a TYPE 3 body; meaning for your particular goals you need to consume 1900 cal a day with a break down of 25% Carbs, 35% Protein, 40% Fats
So here is how this works <=== crap, math time
- Carbs = 1900 calories x 25% (carbs) = 475 calories from carbs (wait wait I’ll break it down further in a bit hang on)
- Protein = 1900 calories x 35% (protein) = 665 calories from protein
- Fats = 1900 calories x 40% (fats) = 760 calories from fat
Ok, with that said you’re probably wondering…. “well how many grams is that because I don’t want to have to figure all of that up.”
Be patient grasshoppa.
Here is a bit more math you’ll have to do
Without going all nerdy on you, you will need to remember these numbers:
- Carbs have 4 calories for every 1 gram of carbohydrate
- Proteins have 4 calories for every 1 gram of protein
- Fats have 9 calories for ever 1 gram of fat
Let me break this down even further for those that think in terms of grams
Take the numbers for our example above
475 carbohydrate calories is 474/4 = 119g of carbs (remember 4 calories for every 1 gram of carb)
665 protein calories is 665/4 = 166g of protein
760 fat calories is 760/9 = 84g of fat
So for the example above of a Type 3 Body that has a calorie number of 1900 will need to break that down (ideally) to 119g of carbs, 166g of protein, and 84g of fat.
What about skinny fat people?
First off if your not sure what a “skinny fat” person is they are people that are typically smaller than average built, but still carry more than average body fat.
Think of people that you look at them and they don’t need to lose weight, compared to the majority of America, but they are still very “soft”.
Side Note: I had someone ask me what causes people to look skinny fat? There really aren’t any studies to specifically say why, but from personal observation some common traits that I’ve seen were: frequent alcohol consumption, little food intake (not enough to cause weight gain) but majority of what they do eat is processed, and very little physical activity.
When I have these people walk in our doors I will put them on a Body Type 2 macro plan. They are not lean by any means but they are not overweight either; most of these people I focus on getting some muscle on their frame and taking them off all processed carbs and after some time they end up looking more like a type one.
What if you’re just not sure what your body type is?
If you think that you could fall in-between two of the body types then your safe bet is to always lean more towards Body Type 2, remember in the end it is the calories that matter not the exact portions.
Can you change your macros daily?
You sure can! BUT… unless that is something you are really ready for don’t mess with it until you’ve been on a solid plan for a period of time. Again wait until this becomes a routine or habit before we start talking about calories, carb and macro cycling.
Starting on Monday
(cause EVERYONE starts on Monday lol)
Make sure you know YOUR calorie number and if you are unsure how to find it read Part 1. Afterwards identify yourself as either a Body Type 1, 2, or 3 and you can either do the math or just input the percentages from above into your calorie tracking app.
When we look at all the factors that contribute to a successful diet the two BIGGEST ones are balancing YOUR calories to YOUR goals and a balanced macro plan. If you follow those, your chance of having a successful diet are MUCH MUCH greater.
In Health and Awesomeness,
Travis Merritt, BS, CPT, (and other letters behind the name) is the Owner of Rowlett Transformation Center in Rowlett, TX.
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