T Nation

Calculating My Macros on a Daily Basis

I’ve never really done this - and I Know I should - so what formula is best to work out how many calories I need to gain/loose weight? When using my fitness pal to track everything, I’m assuming I can edit stuff ie if I peel some sweet potatoes for example can I then enter them as to what weight I have peeled them too? And if I eat say a cheat meal ie a curry from my local Chinese how am I going to work out the macros from that? How do you guys work it?

Is that you in your avatar?

A good start would be just to start counting your macros of what you are eating at the moment. After a week or two of counting you will know your typical caloric intake and macro breakdown. From there you can change/modify your diet to suit your goal.

Measure and weigh the food you actually eat (i.e.: weigh potatoes after peeling). With meals that you are not preparing you are just going to have to estimate, which with a bit of practice you get good at. Don’t stress too much if once or twice a week you have to guess a bit. As long as you are within 80% you should be good.

tweet

Personally if I was having a cheat meal or cheat day I’d not worry about tracking anything. The point for me is to take a break from my diet and relax a little - it’s important to have little breaks to build a healthy relationship with food.

MyFitnessPal is good, you can search for anything and it’ll be there. Sweet potato without skin will definitely be there. I’d be surprised if the Chinese dishes weren’t on there too.

As for calculating macros - there’s an abundance of choices. Look at John Meadows recommendations or for something a bit simpler try the IIFYM online calculator.

I’ve been using it for a while and it’s fine. There’s some testing and adjusting to do but when is there not? What it will do is give you a baseline to work from. Keep track of your appearance and weight loss and change if necessary.

[quote]theBird wrote:
Is that you in your avatar?

A good start would be just to start counting your macros of what you are eating at the moment. After a week or two of counting you will know your typical caloric intake and macro breakdown. From there you can change/modify your diet to suit your goal.

Measure and weigh the food you actually eat (i.e.: weigh potatoes after peeling). With meals that you are not preparing you are just going to have to estimate, which with a bit of practice you get good at. Don’t stress too much if once or twice a week you have to guess a bit. As long as you are within 80% you should be good.

tweet[/quote]
Yep, it is me in my avatar. From 3 years ago…an experimental cut…I’m 5 weeks into a cut now and its going much better, loosing weight slower whilst feeling a lot fuller. And my diet knowledge is much better.

As far as weighing, etc… it doesn’t really matter, as long as you’re consistent. It helps if you cook, because you’re used to seeing what 1oz of something looks like, anyway. However, I still occasionally measure to refresh myself and keep it from creeping up.

If you can’t eyeball it, then you should measure.

RE: eating out, I don’t eat out because I have no idea what they put in there. If I’m forced to, it’ll be something boring like salad w/ chicken breast. I don’t bother with cheats and I don’t think many advocate it (refeeds would be different).

As far as macro ratios, generally low carb if you were a fat kid, low fat otherwise. Calculating individual calories can be helpful in terms that you learn to fit in as much as possible into that calorie cap. However, I’ve learned that adhering to a few rule will generally keep me low enough in calories: bread, dairy, nuts, and avocado no more than 1/x day. But that’s me.

[quote]1 Man Island wrote:
As far as weighing, etc… it doesn’t really matter, as long as you’re consistent. It helps if you cook, because you’re used to seeing what 1oz of something looks like, anyway. However, I still occasionally measure to refresh myself and keep it from creeping up.

If you can’t eyeball it, then you should measure.

RE: eating out, I don’t eat out because I have no idea what they put in there. If I’m forced to, it’ll be something boring like salad w/ chicken breast. I don’t bother with cheats and I don’t think many advocate it (refeeds would be different).

As far as macro ratios, generally low carb if you were a fat kid, low fat otherwise. Calculating individual calories can be helpful in terms that you learn to fit in as much as possible into that calorie cap. However, I’ve learned that adhering to a few rule will generally keep me low enough in calories: bread, dairy, nuts, and avocado no more than 1/x day. But that’s me.[/quote]

Ok, what is the difference between cheat meal/re-feed? And how does re-feed help?

[quote]John Mclane wrote:

Ok, what is the difference between cheat meal/re-feed? And how does re-feed help?
[/quote]

I use Livestrong’s Myplate calorie calculator, as many foods are already pre-entered in their database.

Most people refer to a cheat meal as a relaxed, “eat whatever you want,” within reason, type of a meal. It’s basically a “license” to eat whatever foods you have been craving for one meal, generally focusing on food items that are not, by most standards, considered clean or quality sources of calories (e.g., pizza, ice cream, refined pastas, meatloaf, etc.). A lot of people find that doing this once a week or once every other week helps them keep their sanity, but cheat meals are not usually recommended as a license to binge eat and make yourself sick either.

Refeeds usually refer to a quality source of surplus calories in one day, usually with the goal of replenishing glycogen by eating something like 200g - 500g of complex carbs, though amounts and types of foods consumed on a re-feed vary from person to person. If I do a re-feed, for example, I try to keep my fat intake tempered for the day, and focus on eating larger amounts of steel cut oats, sweet potatoes, rice, quinoa and millet, for example, while keeping protein intake steady. So a re-feed day for me once per week might involve a carb intake of 200-300g, well above my normal amounts, yielding around 3500-4000 k/cal of what is otherwise considered more nutritious carbs.

Suggested reads: http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/most.../in_defense_of_cheat_days

[quote]JR249 wrote:

[quote]John Mclane wrote:

Ok, what is the difference between cheat meal/re-feed? And how does re-feed help?
[/quote]

I use Livestrong’s Myplate calorie calculator, as many foods are already pre-entered in their database.

Most people refer to a cheat meal as a relaxed, “eat whatever you want,” within reason, type of a meal. It’s basically a “license” to eat whatever foods you have been craving for one meal, generally focusing on food items that are not, by most standards, considered clean or quality sources of calories (e.g., pizza, ice cream, refined pastas, meatloaf, etc.). A lot of people find that doing this once a week or once every other week helps them keep their sanity, but cheat meals are not usually recommended as a license to binge eat and make yourself sick either.

Refeeds usually refer to a quality source of surplus calories in one day, usually with the goal of replenishing glycogen by eating something like 200g - 500g of complex carbs, though amounts and types of foods consumed on a re-feed vary from person to person. If I do a re-feed, for example, I try to keep my fat intake tempered for the day, and focus on eating larger amounts of steel cut oats, sweet potatoes, rice, quinoa and millet, for example, while keeping protein intake steady. So a re-feed day for me once per week might involve a carb intake of 200-300g, well above my normal amounts, yielding around 3500-4000 k/cal of what is otherwise considered more nutritious carbs.

Suggested reads: http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/most.../in_defense_of_cheat_days
[/quote]

Ok, thanks for your help.

To be honest calorie counters and macro counting is helpful guidance, but honestly doesn’t really get you want you want, especially if you eat a lot of whole foods.

A little tidbit from JB:

"Math? To plan dinner? Isn?t there a better way? Yes there is. Just take a look at your hand. Use your fist, palm, cupped hand, and thumb to practice calorie control ? while avoiding the hassle of counting calories.

If you?ve heard it once, you?ve heard it a thousand times: The best ? maybe even the only ? way to lose weight is to count calories.

After all, it?s a pretty simple equation: Calories in vs. calories out. Eat more calories than you burn, and you gain weight. Eat fewer calories than you burn and you lose weight.

Except counting calories isn?t that simple.
The problems with calorie counting

First of all ? on the ?calories in? side ? you do need to figure out how many calories are in the foods you want to eat. And that takes handbooks, websites, databases and math. Just to plan your lunch. Groan.

Next, you have to assume that the handbooks, websites, and databases? calorie estimates are correct. They?re often not. In fact, research has shown they can be off by about 25% because of incorrect labeling, laboratory measurement error, and food quality.

Then, of course, there?s the ?calories out? side. Estimating your calorie expenditure each day comes with another 25% measurement error because of the equipment you?re using, laboratory measurement errors, and individual differences.

A possible 25% error on the ?calories in? side, and another 25% error on the ?calories out? side.

Is it even worth:

pulling out measuring cups to a chorus of boos from family members;
dusting off the food scale while trying to ignore the taunts of friends;
wheeling in the abacus from the den to keep up the calorie tally;
subscribing to apps and web services to track these less-than-accurate numbers?

Sure, we should have an idea of how much food we?re eating each day, so we can adjust based on our goals.

But counting calories itself is a drag! No wonder so many people give up and go back to eating the way they were before."

That all being said, I do weigh my food, but that’s b/c I want to make sure I don’t take to much of the food I make and not give my girlfriend her fair share lol.

I usually just think of servings of stuff and adjust up and down based on my results. Consistency and changing only 1 or 2 things at a time is key.

[quote]ZJStrope wrote:
To be honest calorie counters and macro counting is helpful guidance, but honestly doesn’t really get you want you want, especially if you eat a lot of whole foods.

A little tidbit from JB:

"Math? To plan dinner? Isn?t there a better way? Yes there is. Just take a look at your hand. Use your fist, palm, cupped hand, and thumb to practice calorie control ? while avoiding the hassle of counting calories.

If you?ve heard it once, you?ve heard it a thousand times: The best ? maybe even the only ? way to lose weight is to count calories.

After all, it?s a pretty simple equation: Calories in vs. calories out. Eat more calories than you burn, and you gain weight. Eat fewer calories than you burn and you lose weight.

Except counting calories isn?t that simple.
The problems with calorie counting

First of all ? on the ?calories in? side ? you do need to figure out how many calories are in the foods you want to eat. And that takes handbooks, websites, databases and math. Just to plan your lunch. Groan.

Next, you have to assume that the handbooks, websites, and databases? calorie estimates are correct. They?re often not. In fact, research has shown they can be off by about 25% because of incorrect labeling, laboratory measurement error, and food quality.

Then, of course, there?s the ?calories out? side. Estimating your calorie expenditure each day comes with another 25% measurement error because of the equipment you?re using, laboratory measurement errors, and individual differences.

A possible 25% error on the ?calories in? side, and another 25% error on the ?calories out? side.

Is it even worth:

pulling out measuring cups to a chorus of boos from family members;
dusting off the food scale while trying to ignore the taunts of friends;
wheeling in the abacus from the den to keep up the calorie tally;
subscribing to apps and web services to track these less-than-accurate numbers?

Sure, we should have an idea of how much food we?re eating each day, so we can adjust based on our goals.

But counting calories itself is a drag! No wonder so many people give up and go back to eating the way they were before."

That all being said, I do weigh my food, but that’s b/c I want to make sure I don’t take to much of the food I make and not give my girlfriend her fair share lol.

I usually just think of servings of stuff and adjust up and down based on my results. Consistency and changing only 1 or 2 things at a time is key.[/quote]

I understand what you are saying, but how do you personally work out each day that you are getting enough calories then?

In defense of counting calories/macros… if you do it for a while, you kind of memorize how much is in certain foods and you don’t need to do it again. I focus on my macros and eating clean more than the calories.

To simplify, most people only count 1 macro, as in meat = protein, potato = carb, oil = fat, veggie = don’t bother counting.

Sure, there is some other stuff in there, but it does the trick. Things like salmon, eggs, or avocado can get tricky, but there aren’t that many.

As far as calculating, there are a number of formulas used to calculate: Miyaki has an article on here, Jade Teta has a formula in the comments of his latest article, Henriques has something, and there’s stuff on other sites. But roughly, most of them go cals = bodyweight x 10-12 for cutting or 13-16 for bulking. protein = 1 g/lb of bw (x4 to get cals). And you fill the rest with carbs (x4 for cals) and fat (x9 for cals). Fat kids normally are better off keeping carbs under 200g.

However, you could also just track how much food you ate for a week without even looking up what is in it. If you want to gain and you haven’t, eat more. If you want to lose and you haven’t, eat less. You can eat more/less of everything or just one thing, for example an extra potato.

RE: calories out… most of us have fairly consistent routines that provide a baseline of calories out. If you want to increase it, you might throw it some walking or conditioning, but most of the work will be done in the kitchen.

[quote]John Mclane wrote:

I understand what you are saying, but how do you personally work out each day that you are getting enough calories then?[/quote]

I have a baseline diet for lifting days and nonlifting days. I think of it like this:

3 main meals workout days: 2-3 handfuls of protein, 2 servings of added fats, 1-2 servings of carbs, 2 servings of veggies

3 main meals on non-workout days includes all of that except drop the carbs.

1-2 snacks: 2 servings of protein, 1 serving of added fats, 1 serving of carbs, 1 serving of veggies

Then I watch my markers: Weight, girth measurements, workout performance, and caliper measurements.

Based on those items, I adjust.

Like One Man Island said, calorie counting and macro counting does the same thing, it’s just a lot more time intensive. I do occasional track all my calories and macros, like a couple days a month, just to get a feel.

[quote]ZJStrope wrote:

[quote]John Mclane wrote:

I understand what you are saying, but how do you personally work out each day that you are getting enough calories then?[/quote]

I have a baseline diet for lifting days and nonlifting days. I think of it like this:

3 main meals workout days: 2-3 handfuls of protein, 2 servings of added fats, 1-2 servings of carbs, 2 servings of veggies

3 main meals on non-workout days includes all of that except drop the carbs.

1-2 snacks: 2 servings of protein, 1 serving of added fats, 1 serving of carbs, 1 serving of veggies

Then I watch my markers: Weight, girth measurements, workout performance, and caliper measurements.

Based on those items, I adjust.

Like One Man Island said, calorie counting and macro counting does the same thing, it’s just a lot more time intensive. I do occasional track all my calories and macros, like a couple days a month, just to get a feel.[/quote]

Ok…so what sort of % split for my protein/carbs/fats should I use? I’m 43, 5"7’, 189lbs and looking to get to 10% at least…at about 13% at the moment.

[quote]John Mclane wrote:

Ok…so what sort of % split for my protein/carbs/fats should I use? I’m 43, 5"7’, 189lbs and looking to get to 10% at least…at about 13% at the moment.
[/quote]

Answer is whatever is working for you lol. I know that sounds stupid, but you said above that what you were doing is working, so why mess with it?

I suppose you could share what it is you are currently doing and the results you’ve seen from it the past month. Then we could work from there.

ZRaw posted this process in the BB forum. His coach is meadows, I believe. This is for contest prep, but it’s something:

  1. Reduced carbs/cals to switch from “gaining muscle” to “losing fat” calories (usually remove carbs from meal 1 and recude carbs from meal 2)

  2. Add cardio in, 4 x 30mins - moderate intensity,

  3. Reduce/remove carbs from meal 2-3

  4. Up the cardio duration to 40mins

  5. Reduce/remove carbs from last meal of the day

  6. Up the cardio frequency to 5x/week

  7. Reduce/remove carbs from every fucking thing except peri workout

  8. Up the cardio to 5 x 45mins

  9. Reduce carbs from post workout meal, if needed

  10. Stop the cardio

  11. Add carbs back in a bit to fill out

[quote]1 Man Island wrote:
ZRaw posted this process in the BB forum. His coach is meadows, I believe. This is for contest prep, but it’s something:

  1. Reduced carbs/cals to switch from “gaining muscle” to “losing fat” calories (usually remove carbs from meal 1 and recude carbs from meal 2)

  2. Add cardio in, 4 x 30mins - moderate intensity,

  3. Reduce/remove carbs from meal 2-3

  4. Up the cardio duration to 40mins

  5. Reduce/remove carbs from last meal of the day

  6. Up the cardio frequency to 5x/week

  7. Reduce/remove carbs from every fucking thing except peri workout

  8. Up the cardio to 5 x 45mins

  9. Reduce carbs from post workout meal, if needed

  10. Stop the cardio

  11. Add carbs back in a bit to fill out[/quote]

Good post, I’ve done something similar myself this week and am feeling good, so I will carry on and monitor the situation