Nutrition Basics & Macros
I have competed in 6 fitness shows across Canada and the USA, I have dieted for months and months on end without cheating or missing a meal. I have tried many different techniques, ways, types of foods, eating times, and everything in between you can possibly think of. When you take your body to around 5% body-fat you must push its limits and change your food intake drastically.
Me in my prime while competing and placing 2nd>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
This post will be on understanding the basics of nutrition for the average gym goer, athlete, or health advocate. Nutrition is without a doubt the most important aspect to changing your body, becoming healthier, excelling at your sport, or feeling great about yourself.
It takes sacrifice and discipline to buy and prepare the right foods for you to live a healthy life. Although competing in fitness shows is an extreme test for sure, I have learned a lot through endless trial and error methods on myself.
Everyone’s body is different, we can experience different results from attempting to eat similar foods or number of calories than another person. Finding what works for your body will take patience and trial and error to see what works for you.!
I can provide basic knowledge from my own life, but it will be up to you to act and adjust when necessary to avoid any plateaus.
Why we should learn about nutrition and how can it help you on your journey?
Good nutrition will act as the fuel to properly nourish your body to operate at its intended level. It is also a fantastic tool to regulate or adjust weight gain or loss by losing fat and thus building muscle.
If you are looking for further knowledge to become healthier through nutrition and exercise read my E-book. It is a 9-step guide to create a healthy life with action steps to follow along the way called - Optimal Health.
Nutrition Plans Work
Skip the hacks, the quick fixes and the diet drinks that claim false statements and stick to the basics of proper whole foods to act as your primary source of food intake. It will take time and adjustments week after week with your nutrition to start seeing great benefits and returns in your well-being.
Nutrition plans will work wonders if you do not go too aggressive at the start and reach after small targets along the way. Such as increasing your protein intake to 120g per day. I always followed a nutrition plan everyday of the week when I was competing and pushing myself to the max.
If you are winging it and trying to buy healthier foods without a plan you will most likely fall short of your goals.
Stop Calling it Dieting
Stop calling diets, diets. When you think of the word diet what comes to mind…? Restriction, suffering, low, sacrifice, hard work, expensive, time consuming, preparation and so on. Diets do not have a good rep and nor should they when we plan to “diet” January 1st for 8 weeks and lose our footing 4 weeks in. I stopped using the word diet years ago and it has helped me immensely in terms of eating better foods daily.
I eat the way I eat everyday to provide my body with the proper nutrients and nutrition it needs to operate at its highest level, be healthy and feel great inside and out. That is how I look at what I need to eat everyday based on that statement. I eat healthy and enjoy myself and eat less nutritious foods from time to time but not consistently.
If you want to lose 20lbs and do not want to restrict certain foods from your life, than you need to dig deeper into why you want to lose the 20lbs. Maybe it is to be at a healthier weight so you can live the longest fullest life possible to enjoy your time here. That is a great reason and a why big enough to do what it takes with your food to reach it.
Stop calling it a diet, call it and treat it as a way of life. To provide your body with the nutrition to attain the goals you want at a given time. Incorporate it into your life through making it a habit by eating that way day after day, week after week, month after month.
Also known as macros are nutrients the body uses daily. There are 3 basic types of macros;
These are required by the body in different amounts depending on the individual and their bodies/goals.
Protein helps to repair muscles from exertion like weight training or a sport to build back stronger than before.
Carbohydrates are used as energy for the body and will provide you with fuel to get on with the day or hike for a few hours.
Fats aid in energy as well as critical body function like nutrient absorption and hormone production.
One of the most basic forms of creating a nutrition plan designed for you or someone will be at the basis of counting macros. This means to calculate the total number of macronutrients you are aiming to consume each day. As we already discussed the 3 macros are proteins, carbohydrates and fats so how do we count them?
Each macro is measured as a gram and each macro has a set caloric value.
1g protein = 4 calories
1g carbohydrates = 4 calories
1g fat = 9 calories
Everyone will eat food during the day made up of macronutrients. We all require a different number of calories per day based on age, sex, activity level, and body type. If you are a 20-year-old male athlete who plays soccer competitively you will no doubt required to eat way more calories per day to provide your body with the proper fuel to keep burning each week than someone who goes to the gym 3 days a week to maintain their health.
The most basic guidelines for calorie intake for adult women are 2000 calories per day and men would be around 2500 calories per day. This is recommended but too vague for the general population as I have said there are numerous factors which can contribute to what your specific body needs.
Also depending on your life and goals will determine what number of macros you require which make up your total caloric intake each day.
For example, let us use the 20-year-old male soccer player as our candidate. Say he’s eating around 3200 calories a day to operate at his level as he is burning tons of calories each day training and playing soccer. He would most likely want a good amount of his macros to come from carbs as he is burning an extremely high amount of energy each day. Below carbs would be protein intake and lastly fats.
350g carbs x 4 = 1400 calories
200g protein x 4 = 800 calories
111g fats x 9 = 1000 calories
Remember this is just an assumption and will vary player to player but I want you to understand the basics. Everyone doesn’t require the same number of calories or macros.
It will be specific to your body, your sport, lifestyle, and goals.
Download My Fitness Pal
The best app I have used by far which will help you to calculate your macros each day is called My Fitness Pal. It’s free and is absolutely necessary if you want to stay on track with achieving your eating goals and habits daily. It can be downloaded on your phone for quick and easy access during the day.
You input the food you eat by entering it in manually or scanning the barcode on the product itself. It than shows all the macros in the program to help you calculate your daily amount. You can set your own goals and targets within the app such as 200g carbs, 125g protein and 75g fats. It will then take away from those totals when you start inputting your food each day.
If this sounds like a lot of work, time math and whatever else it can be at the start… But it will take time to build the habit of entering your food each day either right before or after you eat it. Once you get the hang of it, it will be second nature and super simple.
You can also save meals within My Fitness Pal so if you tend to eat similar meals each day like chicken broccoli and rice for lunch you just pull up the meal for that day and everything is already there for you.
Keep it Simple
Eating nutritious foods and reaching your health goals will take time and patience. You will have to stay consistent over everything else. This will allow you to reap the benefits in the long term. The way I did this in the past was to eat a lot of the same foods each day. Meal prepping became a huge staple in my life and every Sunday, and Wednesday. I would prepare many if not all my meals, snacks and whatever else I needed for the next 3-4 days.
This allowed me to stay 100% on track and on target to reach my goals. You may not be wanting to get so strict or sacrifice so much which is fine but the point is if you want to stay consistent with eating healthy and nutritious foods. One of the best ways is to eat similar meals each day that are staples in your life. If you want to switch meals up that is fine, but it will take even more time and prep than keeping it simple.
There is so much to know about nutrition I could write a book on it – and may do that eventually to provide a deeper dive into it. Here is the very basics of what macros are and some ways to help you track and improve your eating through counting macros. If you have any questions or need help, please let me know. Thanks for reading this and have a great day.
All the best,