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Any One Have Experience With Macros For Women?

Hey everyone,
My wife has now started displaying interest in training at the gym. Which is great news. I have plenty experience myself but not sure about women and the differences. She’s 30, 5’6" @120lbs. I’m not sure about BF% but I’d swing a guess at 30ish maybe.
Im thinking a 300cal surplus to start.
2200 calories
Protein, 110-140g
Carbs, 200g
Fat, whatever is left

Any suggestions or thoughts? Thanks

@jcmcnorton - Happy to offer some advice! Just based on my experience, whenever I prep a client, men or women, the approach is pretty much identical. Not sure how you came up with these numbers, I typically use a TDEE calculator, the best and most accurate one I like is on IIFYM. Plug in the info and see what comes up, that usually provides a pretty accurate starting point. The only different that I have personally used when prepping women is to make sure dietary fats are never below 30%, where as for myself and other males I’ve trained, I’ve gone anywhere from 20-30%.

Please be sure to post back with any more questions!

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splain it, bro

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B[quote=“jcmcnorton, post:1, topic:233085”]
2200 calories
Protein, 110-140g
Carbs, 200g
Fat, whatever is left

I use to always quote Jim Cordova about this because he really explained it very simply. Once you’ve established your caloric target range, set protein at 1g/lb bw, set fats at 10-20%, and then “fill the rest with carbs.”

Now, obviously this is a VERY generalized approach, as based solely on differing insulin resistance levels not everyone can just “fill in the rest” so almost haphazardly.

what you’ll usually find is that leaner individuals can handle larger amounts of carbohydrates. This is never a 100% certainty so always be understanding of the need to make adjustments. Some folks just function better on higher fats. Of course what you’ll likely experience is a better handling of carbs on training days vs rest days, so juggle the carbs to fats ratio accordingly.


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I’d like to see the explanation but I have to say that every woman I’ve known whose made a radical body transformation has reduced carbs and kept fats moderate (while I’ve known men to do better with more carbs). The OP is talking about increasing calories though. The current BF% means very little because woman have huge differences in fat patterns. I knew well built mid 30s years old ex volleyball player with no breasts who walked around at 14% bodyfat all the time and I know bustier fitness models who dieted down hard and look absolutely lean as heck at 19%. They were both about as lean as I think any woman not on androgens would ever want to be.

Regarding fat intake, I know that women are supposed to have muscle growth much more tied to growth hormone release than men, because women have much much less testosterone. As a result, MAYBE its more important for women to train on fewer carbs to get more GH, and also eat fewer carbs at night because insulin blocks GH, but on a calorie excess diet, adding fat to carbs is not going to reduce insulin secretion, its just going to stretch it out longer and it takes more insulin to manage carbs on a higher fat diet than on a lower fat diet.

Fat patterns in women may matter too, whether the fat is more in the abdominal area or in the hips or arms and legs can tell you which hormone to manipulate with diet (reducing insulin, increasing GH, reducing cortisol). Again, since he is only mentioning adding calories, I assume there is no immediate need to lose fat, and a real 30% for a woman can be quite normal depending of fat distribution.

The most important thing about fat IMO is to eliminate any corn or soybean or “vegetable” oil that is high linoleic acid. Saturated, monounsaturated (avocado, olive, high oleic safflower) and a small amount of omega-3. Flameout is great for men, but not in optimal ratio for women, but there are better women’s omega-3s coming out these days. Enough to provide 2 grams of DHA+EPA a day. The second most important thing is to limit sucrose because of the fructose content. Fruit is fine, but sucrose containing drinks and dessert items are not. No high linoleic oils (they are pro inflammatory) and no sugary processed foods. If you do that, then play around with the macros.

Also, 2200 seems a little high. I am 205 right now and considerably leaner and my maintenance level while training 4-6 days a week is about 2900-3000 calories. If I am not lifting or working out it is about 2700. I am older though at 46. 1900 calories baseline for a 30 year old 120lb woman with 30% fat seems a little high. Now if I added in activity I would add that to the calories so if she is walking for 30 minutes a day too, you would want to add 150 calories to that to break even.

Now, I have known plenty of women who were in good shape who stayed that way and got stronger on lower fat diets.

You know, I do know women who were overweight who lost a ton by eating lowish carbs and exercising, (like 80 pounds in a year), but I don’t know much about someone who is generally healthy and starting to workout with weights. I know 2 great female figure competitors who I can ask though. They are both in their early 20s, but they definitely have it figured out.

Awesome info from @The_Mighty_Stu and @mertdawg!

For a cut, I think it’s very important to keep fats higher. On a gaining phase, maybe going a little lower wouldn’t be an issue, again these are just my thoughts. But, when getting down to low body fat, like really low body fat, for men OR women, it’s not a natural thing to do, it fights against every instinct your body has. Hormones are all over the place, women lose their menstrual cycle, so it’s important to do as much damage control as possible. While protein and carbs play a role in certain hormone regulations, so do dietary fats. The body needs dietary fats, your brain definitely does, and while I was prepping I came across some articles showing a correlation between higher dietary fats and lower rates of depression. I certainly noticed this myself, I was at a point in my prep where fats were about 20%, or 40g. Everyone reacts differently towards the end of a prep, but depression for me is certainly there, and I know others who have the same issue. When I upped fats to 60-65g, I noticed an almost immediate difference in my mood and well-being.

I haven’t prepped a ton of women, but all the ones I have lost their menstrual cycle at about 8-10 weeks out of the show. Since their hormones are already so whacked out, I prefer to keep fats at 30% to help keep things as balanced as possible, and keep carbs as high as possible also. Again not really hard data, just my method based on that reasoning.

I can certainly understand this. Again just throwing my thoughts out there, 2200 cals might be right on the money, depending on the genetics of the woman, training methods, volume, etc. My wife was 117lbs on stage, started her prep at 136lbs, at 2100-2200 cals a day at the beginning of her cut. So, @jcmcnorton, if she’s trying to gain lean mass, then 2200 might be a good place to start, 1900 sounds like maintenance to me, so a 200-300 cal surplus would be a good place to start. The best thing you could do is pick the number and macro breakdown, run it for a couple weeks, track weight and take pics, be sure to take note on strength increases, and see what happens. As I mentioned earlier, fats could certainly be lowered in a gaining phase, just my .02 I’d keep them no lower than 25%.

My wife really needed to lower carbs to get stage ready. Another female client was able to stay on about 150g daily all the way through. So, it really depends on each individual. The best thing to do is pick a plan, start it, see what happens and learn as you go!

Thanks so much for the valuable information! I really appreciate your thorough response.

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You’re welcome man, happy to help!