T Nation

Confused About Caloric Needs, Macros


#1

HEy all,

How do you guys figure out how much total calories you need in a day? Can you google any one of those calorie calculators? Also what about macros? What percentage split is the best to go on a bulk? is 40/35/25 good for a conservative bulk? I'm aiming for about 2 pounds every month.

I'm about 5'10 182lbs. If i were to approximate, I'd say im a bout 13-15% bf

It says I need to consume about 2900+ cals a day for a bulk. Maintenance is at 2600+

Does this sound right? To bulk, I'd need about 380g carbs, 190g protein, and 75g fats

Thanks in advance


#2

also, isn't it kind of tough to maintain the fats level around 75g? If one meal if I were to eat 7ounces of steak, thats already 40g of fats.

I eat about 2 eggs in the morning which is 10g of fat. add in another 2 meals of 7 ounces of chicken, thats a total of 110 grams of fats already. This is not even including any of the other smaller snacks that I might eat during the day.

I'm aiming for a slower bulk so is consuming 110g of fat okay? I would just decrease my carb intake to accommodate the increase in calories from fats correct?


#3

There really is no concrete answer. Everyone's metabolism is different. There are many outside factors as well. What type of work do you do? How much do you sleep? How hard do you train? Are your calories from "clean" foods? I would say ballpark estimate is 15,16,or 17 times your bodyweight will get you in the area. Like I said, many factors to consider. You could take two guys that weigh 180, like yourself, and one could handle 1000/cals more per day based on the amount of muscle he is carrying, his heavy labor job, and the way he trains.

My avatar is a recent pic. I'm 5'8", 170. I eat roughly 3,000 cals/day. All clean foods. I cheat once a week and probably eat around 4000-5000 on that day. My weight hasn't really moved at all in the last month so, as of today, I am upping my cals by ~300/day. I'm doing this by adding another 2 scoops of Metabolic Drive with a tbsp. of nut butter to my day. I will run this plan for the next month and then re-evaluate.

So my advice would be to choose a number, say 2900. Stick as close as you can to that for a month and then evaluate progress. Make adjustments as needed from there. Good luck bro!!


#4

As far as fat goes, I personally prefer to be on the higher side (150g/day) and keep carbs in check. I aim for 100g carbs peri-workout and then an additional 100g throughout the rest of the day.


#5

Good answer and advice jbalplay.He pretty much summed it up for ya right there.


#6

Appreciate it jp! I'm trying to give back some knowledge that I have rather than ONLY try to ask and soak up from others. Give and take. That's what it's all about


#7

ok I hear ya man, thanks for the advice.

as for the fats, is there a reason why you go higher in fats and keep the carbs in check?

the calculator I used recommended higher carbs and lower fats (380/200/75). But I would find this extremely hard to do as the chicken i eat throughout the day would already exceed this limit

edit: oh and one more thing. So lets say I've hit my target for protein and fats for the day. But i'm short on carbs by about 40g. would i just go and grab a cup of rice and just started eating just to hit my macros? Is that how it works?


#8

Approximately 70% of the population is carb intolerant, meaning they don't do a great job processing carbs. Probably one of the main reasons stuff like Indigo-3g is being created. As far as higher fats, there's a few reasons why.

  • Fat slows digestion. Eating high glycemic carbs by themselves can cause insulin spikes. Fat helps reduce these spikes by making the carbs slower digesting.
  • Fats, particularly good fats (coconut oil, grass fed butter, avocado, nuts, oily fish, etc) help with many functions in the body, including reducing inflammation. (A result of hard training)
  • They help keep you full. Period. I don't know if this is scientific, but I'm speaking for myself here.

For years fats have gotten a bad rap, yet recently they are being viewed as actually being good for you. (Certain kinds anyways) Remember 15 years ago when we were told to eat no more than one egg per day? Not anymore.

Look, you may be one of the people who tolerate carbs very well. If so, go for it. I wish there was a concrete answer and there isn't. I hate saying this because I don't know if I completely agree with it, but at the end of the day, it's about how many calories you get for the day. If you are 40g short on carbs, (that's 160 calories) I would focus more on just getting the 160 calories in, and if it were me, I would try to get them from protein first, fat second, carbs third. The hell with EXACTLY hitting those macros for the day. Set a caloric limit for that day, week, month, whatever, and hit it each and every day. Then, like I said before, evaluate and adjust.

By the way, are you going through the KFC drive-thru for your chicken? Just curious what kind you are eating that contains so much fat?? A medium chicken breast has a max of 8g fat in it.


#9

You can catch up the next day as well. Look at the big picture and think of calories in vs out over the course of the week. This doesn't mean calculate that you need 20,000 calories per week and only got....no no no, just be honest and figure out if you've been eating over or under your target 80% of the time and adjust.

But you sound like you really are a beginner at dieting.

Don't stress too much over exact calories right now, but try to build a good day-to-day menu and rhythm that will allow you to hit near (+/- 15%) that EVERY day (fasts and cheats excluded). If your number is 3000 and you hit 2550-3450 calories for the day, don't worry about it. Fix it the next day and figure out why you're fucking up. Try to make better choices and build a better menu so that you get more precise everyday.

Building correct habit is much more important than starting with the "oerfect" macro list. Ultimately, you are going to have to continually adjust the number anyway as you see how your body reacts...


#10

right my bad, I did a quick google and I did'nt realize that I was looking at nutrition of fried chicken as opposed to just chicken breast. now the fats makes sense to me. Ok I understand your reasoning too, thanks for the insight


#11

hey man, yeah I am definitely a beginner at dieting. I have NEVER tracked calories/macros in my life before, but after seeing my weight stall for the past year I thought I had to bump up my effort a bit. Going to try 2900 calories first and I'll focus on hitting this number and see how my body reacts. Thanks!


#12

Macros and even total cals don't mean shit.

Find WHAT FOODS WORK FOR YOU and then Eat til you feel content, and then eat a pound of ground beef.

Seriously.

There's other really good advice here too.


#13

macros and total cals dont mean shit? so ensuring your eating enough protein and calories to gain weight doesnt mean shit? right......


#14

I wasn't clear, but I stand by what I said. Allow me to clarify. I expected some people to completely disagree with my point, but I stick to my guns on this. Finding "what foods work for you" is about understanding how food affects your body. If you eat the wrong things, then the effect the food has on your physique and recovery will be far from optimal (but you still ate those calories...), unless you are a genetic freak -- Don't misunderstand this sentence as it is pivotal to my point I am making; Allow me to further explain: Anyone asking for advice on something as basic as caloric needs and macros (no offense OP - I'm just keeping it real), needs to gain a solid understanding of how food affects their body. Experimenting with different protein sources, fat sources, and veggie/fruit/starch sources via rotation is really key in my opinion.

Most people eat a very limited diet (sorry for generalizing about most people), and have never tried so many kinds of food. This is a shame. If you are picky, your results are probably not optimal. Trying all kinds of foods is a lengthy learning process for most people. When a person gains vast experience, only then can they learn to understand food on the intimate basis and bodybuild intuitively only. I ensure you there are MANY pro and amatuer BBers who BULK intuitively. I am clearly not a fan of counting calories, though it also clearly does have it's place, so I shouldn't have said that "counting calories doesn't mean shit" - I'll give you that much. I feel counting carbs (I didn't say limiting carbs) has move of a place. You can check out my training logs, or some of my other posts if you don't think I know what I'm talking about...

To rephrase my advice, learning what a good foundation diet is is key. Then, adding up to a pound of ground beef (~85%, or steaks, but I find ground beef easier) will ensure plenty calories and nutrients for solid gains. It's like GOMAD, but much easier on the digestive system for most people. In fact, ground beef is pretty affordable as well. Count calories if you want, but focusing on minutia usually compromises results when trying to establish a foundation.


#15

agreed, thanks for clarifying that.


#16

I agree to a point .... But think you can totally disregard calories to your own peril .....

You CAN over eat "good stuff" and get fat ..... Having a good calorie baseline for gains and cutting is invaluable, IMO

......more so as you get old like me :slightly_smiling:

Great advice on this thread .... Solid guys!


#17

thanks for everyone's input, i'll be sure to think about everything I've read in here

but going back to the calories, I'd just like to clarify one more thing.

Lets say my maintenance levels at 180lbs is 2600cal, and 2900cal to bulk to 190. Once I've gotten to say around 185, should I be re-calculating my maintenance cals (since it will be higher now that I'm heavier) and make sure I increase my surplus by a bit to ensure I continue bulking to 190?

Also when I go on a cut from 190, I would have to calculate my maintenance levels at this weight, to calculate my caloric deficit goals correct? So by the time I reach the 190, I would no longer be using the 2600cals as reference?


#18

Technically yes.

Correct. Then again, if you wanted to get uber technical, you would also account for any changes in BF% versus lean mass.


#19

Don't overstress about the calories. Aim for 2900, and try to get close to that everyday. I agree with Bulletproof that is DOES matter what types of calories you are ingesting. Give someone 2500 cals worth of clean carbs and lean meats and I GUARANTEE he will see better results than someone getting 2500 cals from shit food, even if everything else was the same (training, stress, sleep, etc)

Elvis, I can attest to what you have said. Years ago, I GROSSLY underestimated that amount of chicken breast I was eating every day. What I thought was a 6oz. portion turned out to be over a pound. I was eating clean but not losing weight. So yes, you can have weight loss stall or even gain weight by eating too much of a good thing. Goes bad to the age old formula of (calories in vs. calories burnt =??)

Thanks for chiming in guys. This dude has a LOAD of info to digest now and quite frankly is probably overwhelmed. Your welcome bro!!


#20

When trying to cut (even though I hate that term), I try to increase caloric expenditure rather than decrease calories. For one, I like food and hate being hungry. Two, I firmly believe in the G-flux theory. Sometimes energy and calories have to actually be increased in order for weight loss to occur. I can personally attest to this. At the end of last year, I was taking in 2200 cals/day trying to lean out. No cardio, just weight training. Nothing. Slowly increased to ~3000 cals/day while adding 30 min low intensity cardio to the end of 4 weight training sessions/week and that fat started falling off.