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Learning to Count Macros - Please Help!


#1

So I have been on my fitness journey for about a year and a half and cut a bunch of weight dieting hard for 6-8 months and now for the past 8 months I have tried putting on more muscle (which I have put on about 15lbs) and am now realizing I need to be more strict with my diet and am looking into counting macros for the first time ever. Some stats are followed

5'9 // 150lbs // 25 years old

I did the IIFYM calculator and it gave me these results:

404 carbs/day
120 protein/day
52.5 fat/day
30-36 fiber/day

Are these reasonable? I am counting what I am eating today and I don't understand how I can get that many carbs in my body. I'm also relatively new to cooking on my own, so any advice on certain foods who could round out my macros would be awesome. I hate most vegetables which probably is the issue, but this is what I have ate today and how it fits:

1577 calories
38 fat
174 carbs
141 protein

Breakfast sandwich (one egg, slice of american chz, ham and wheat muffin)
Banana
Strawberry chzcake quest bar
.8lbs of chicken
Protein shake with one scoop of Cellucor protein//Cup of Strawberries//Banana//2tbsp Peanut Butter//Lactaid milk
Greek yogurt (chobani)


#2

Mate, I’ll be honest with you: you’re my height and about 45 lbs lighter than I am, and I’m not the most muscular guy in the 198s you’ll find. You DON’T need to count macros. If you want to, sure, go ahead, but you don’t need to.

I’d recommend (and feel free to tell me to bugger off, I won’t be offended) doing something like Starting Strength of 5/3/1 Boring But Big and just eating heaps of good food (meat, whole grains and carbs like potatoes, polenta, etc, vegetables, lots of water, some fats). If you want, try intermittent fasting on a 5/2 (two non-consecutive, non-training days per weeK) with your fasting days just having breakfast and dinner with 10 to 12 hours in between. That helped me drop bodyfat and didn’t hinder strength and muscle gain: it got me from around 20ish per cent bodyfat to around 15ish while increasing my squat from 350 lbs to 430, my bench from 200 to 253 and my deadlift from 405 to 500 over about seven months.

Just my two cents.


#3

[quote]MarkKO wrote:
Mate, I’ll be honest with you: you’re my height and about 45 lbs lighter than I am, and I’m not the most muscular guy in the 198s you’ll find. You DON’T need to count macros. If you want to, sure, go ahead, but you don’t need to.[/quote]

I get what you’re saying, but why would it not be beneficial to count macros and understand how much you’re eating? Yeah, for some people just “eating a lot” works out pretty well but it works out even better if you learn how to figure out roughly how much you should eat and then aim for that every day.

I know I personally took the “dude just eat” thing too far and put on a significant amount of fat. That could have been avoided if I wasn’t an idiot and took some time to assess my fat to muscle progress occasionally but still. It would have been way better to know how much I should eat and then aim for that.

Op those starting macros are ok. I would add about 70 ish grams of protein and drop 70ish grams of carbs and use that as a starting point.


#4

The point of counting macros is to get better outcomes because you have more control. It can be useful depending on what you’re trying to do.

The first thing you want to do is count protein grams. The standard bodybuilding recommendation is 1g/lb of bodyweight which is either too high if we’re talking about substrate provisioning or too low if we’re maximizing Leucine signaling but it’s a reasonable starting point if you don’t want to get all fancy with it. Using that rule you want at least 150g at your weight, more is fine.

The second thing you want to do is count carbs so that you can either promote gluconeogenesis if you keep them low or ensure thyroid function if you keep them higher. You’re bulking so I’d say anything over 200g is plenty, but more is fine as long as your protein goal is met.

The third thing you want to do is count fat so that you can ensure proper health and hormone production. You’ll want at least 31g of Saturated + Monounsaturated fat combined plus some extra to compensate for any polyunsaturated you’re consuming, this will help maximize testosterone production. Mono is best, then Saturated (especially MCTs) then Omega-3 Polys, avoid Omega-6 where possible. More fats is fine if you have the calories and make sure you’re taking a fish oil supplement.

For meal planning generally just focus on hitting protein targets and everything else usually falls into place without much extra work, but as long as you’re logging your food it’ll be obvious what you need to change after you keep an eye on it for a few days.


#5

Just based on my own experience, really. I based my food intake around calculated macros per meal for a couple of years and while it helped control my bodyfat and stop it going up I only really started losing bodyfat and gaining good muscle when I focused much more on getting stronger and stopped being too fussed about my macros.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with counting macros, just IMO based on the OP’s information provided it looks like the ‘dude just eat (good food)’ might work better especially since the goal is muscle gain. Training hard and smart and eating heaps of good food will most probably result in maximal muscle growth with comparatively little fat gain.

I might have made the point a bit clumsily, as I do agree that understanding how much you’re eating is important but I think going down the macros road at this stage may be counterproductive as it could quite easily take a lot of focus away from working out how best to train. What I’m getting at is that for a guy at 25 who’s 5’9 and 150 lbs who wants to put on muscle the LAST thing to worry about is ‘how do I get enough carbs/protein/fat’. Just eat a whole bunch of good food and train hard and heavy three times a week. When you’re sitting at 185 lbs or so THEN counting macros might be the way to go; not least because while going from 150 to 185 you’ll probably have learned a whole bunch about how to train in a way that works for you.


#6

MarkKO: counting macros can work in both directions.

Just as it can be used for someone to shed fat, it can be equally important for someone to make sure they’re actually eating ENOUGH. And OP appears to be a little low on his calorie estimate for now. So counting might be good for him if he increases his targets, following bluesteel’s excellent suggestion above.

“Just eat food” won’t do OP any good if he still frets about whether he’s eating too much.


#7

[quote]ActivitiesGuy wrote:
MarkKO: counting macros can work in both directions.

Just as it can be used for someone to shed fat, it can be equally important for someone to make sure they’re actually eating ENOUGH. And OP appears to be a little low on his calorie estimate for now. So counting might be good for him if he increases his targets, following bluesteel’s excellent suggestion above.

“Just eat food” won’t do OP any good if he still frets about whether he’s eating too much.[/quote]

I think discouraging someone from counting macro’s when they are already willing to do it seems short sighted. It’s a useful skill to have, and useful information to have for someone who’s in this for the long haul.


#8

I know it is going to sound like Bro Science, which isn’t always bad, but you need to eat 1 - 1.5 grams of protein per your ‘desired body weight’. That 120 grams of protein that was originally calculated isn’t going to cut it if you are trying to put on muscle and reach your goals.

What has worked for me is only having meals that consist of Protein and Fats, or Protein and Carbs. I put the meals that are carb heavy around my workouts, midday. So that means in the mornings and evenings I will have the fat meals. This has kept me lean year round with minimum cardio. If I notice I am putting on some fat, or looking a bit soft, I will either cut back a few carbs or add in a little cardio.

The key is finding something that you know you will have no issue sticking with for long periods of time.


#9

[quote]wiggyadam wrote:
I know it is going to sound like Bro Science, which isn’t always bad, but you need to eat 1 - 1.5 grams of protein per your ‘desired body weight’. That 120 grams of protein that was originally calculated isn’t going to cut it if you are trying to put on muscle and reach your goals.

What has worked for me is only having meals that consist of Protein and Fats, or Protein and Carbs. I put the meals that are carb heavy around my workouts, midday. So that means in the mornings and evenings I will have the fat meals. This has kept me lean year round with minimum cardio. If I notice I am putting on some fat, or looking a bit soft, I will either cut back a few carbs or add in a little cardio.

The key is finding something that you know you will have no issue sticking with for long periods of time. [/quote]

This


#10

[quote]wiggyadam wrote:
I know it is going to sound like Bro Science, which isn’t always bad, but you need to eat 1 - 1.5 grams of protein per your ‘desired body weight’. That 120 grams of protein that was originally calculated isn’t going to cut it if you are trying to put on muscle and reach your goals.[/quote]

Slightly off topic, but I can’t stop wondering whether people giving out those recommendations have ever tried if .075 grams would also work. It’s pretty obvious that there is no such thing as too much protein for hypertrophy since it’s just extra calories, but all the people saying “you NEED 1/1.5/2/2.5/3g per pound”… You should google “Borge Fagerli - the final word on protein”. Seriously.


#11

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:

[quote]wiggyadam wrote:
I know it is going to sound like Bro Science, which isn’t always bad, but you need to eat 1 - 1.5 grams of protein per your ‘desired body weight’. That 120 grams of protein that was originally calculated isn’t going to cut it if you are trying to put on muscle and reach your goals.[/quote]

Slightly off topic, but I can’t stop wondering whether people giving out those recommendations have ever tried if .075 grams would also work. It’s pretty obvious that there is no such thing as too much protein for hypertrophy since it’s just extra calories, but all the people saying “you NEED 1/1.5/2/2.5/3g per pound”… You should google “Borge Fagerli - the final word on protein”. Seriously.[/quote]

The Borge Fagerli article is a nice read, but it’s not like he suddenly recommended a hippie vegan low-protein diet.

"25-40g of whole food protein per meal x 3-4 meals per day. The final meal of the day could have a higher protein intake of 30-60g with the inclusion of a â??slowâ?? protein source such as eggs or casein.

Add in some (optional) pre-workout whey(15-25g) or BCAAs (4-8g).

Post-workout, have a whey+casein blend, 20-30g worth. If youâ??re having a whole food meal within an hour, thatâ??s perfectly fine and you could just have a small amount of whey and some fruits when leaving the gym, then cook and eat when you get home. Or have your girlfriend/boyfriend do it for you, gotta recover those arms, obviously. The 3-4 meal recommendation includes this post-workout protein feeding (either whey+casein or whey with a whole food meal within an hour), but 5 meals is also feasible if you have particularly long days."

Really, that’s still going to come close to 1 g/pound. Maybe it’s a bit under. I think 1 g/lb is a fine target for most people, even if a little less is still going to work, because 1) it’s a nice easy round number to shoot for and 2) it leaves that room for error if a noob tends to undershoot a little.

Also, in general, gaining mass requires not just protein but total calories, and if a noob is going to eat less protein, they have to add more of something if they are trying to gain mass. So it’s possible that some folks recommend the nice round 1 g/lb as part of a comprehensive “Make sure the dude is eating enough overall” plan.

Finally, I haven’t seen many people truly saying “you NEED 3 g per pound” anywhere.


#12

“Total protein intake ? and I usually don?t count protein from carbs or fat sources, except eggs ? is going to be around 1,5-2g/kg bodyweight or even 1,2-1,5 with the predominant use of high-quality whey or milk proteins. This is probably quite a bit lower than what you?re doing now and have been led to believe is needed, and also quite a bit lower than what I?ve recommended in the past. The benefits ? less digestion issues, saves $$$, and makes room for more carbs and fats in your diet ? are worth it. You?re not going to lose muscle, and you might even gain some muscle (not sufficient research yet, but there are certain indicators).”

EDIT: This is too off topic. If anyone wants to continue this discussion, it should be done in the nutrition section.


#13

I read the Borge Fagerli article and selectively googled several of the sources that were cited in the source that he cited. None of them used subjects carrying above average levels of muscularity.

Now, I have no interest in delving deep into his interpretation nor his sources, but I can tell you he got several points wrong in his interpretation of research pertaining to anabolics in another article(haha sorry, this is the only subject I can be bothered to go indepth into).

Thus, I would urge you guys to error on the side of caution regarding more protein intake. Especially in a caloric deficit.