I recently tweeted about working on macros for the next day before bed, and had a surprising number of comments and messages about it. One of my friends suggested writing up a post about it, so here is the first part! 🙂 I’ve tried to make it as simple as possible, but I’m not a professional by any definition, so take everything you read with a grain of salt! This is information that I’ve read up on and learned myself.
First of all, what is IIFYM? IIFYM or ‘If It Fits Your Macros’ is an eating approach where the idea is that all calories are equal, and that instead of only eating “healthy foods” or “clean foods”, you eat foods that fit your macros. First of all, I’m not saying that a brownie will provide the same nutritional value as broccoli, but the total amount of energy created, aka a calorie, is the same.
What are macros? Macros, or macronutrients are the basic building blocks of your diet – protein, carbs, and fat. Your macro spread will depend on who you are, and how you personally react to different macros – aka, some people bloat more when they eat carbs, or some people respond really well to high protein diets.
The main reason I use IIFYM is because it allows me to plan cookies, pancakes, and waffles into my diet without feeling guilty. I’ve tried to eat only ‘healthy’ foods, but instead I found that I felt guilty if I ate something that wasn’t healthy. IIFYM allows me to eat the delicious foods I want, while still working towards my goals of a stronger and healthier body.
Okay, so how do you actually plan a diet plan around IIFYM? If you want to actually understand it better, you should probably read all the grey text. Otherwise, just skip past it, and you can just use a calculator to help you figure it out.
Your TDEE, or your Total Daily Energy Expenditure is the number of calories that you can eat in a day everyday,based on how many calories you burn on a given day. You usually calculate your TDEE based on your activity level in a week. There are plenty of calculators that you can use to determine this amount, but those calculators are just a base from where you start from – more on this later. A related number, your BMR is your basic metabolic rate – this is the number of calories your body will burn in a coma (aka with no exercise or movement).
To set up your macros, you first determine your TDEE – remember, this is the number of calories you need to eat to maintain your weight level. If you want to increase your weight, you can increase your calorie intake anywhere from 100 (what is known as a lean bulk) up to 500 calories. Similarly, if you want to lose weight, you decrease your calorie intake anywhere from 100-500 calories. Where does this ‘500’ number come from? It has been determined that a healthy amount of weight to lose in a week at most is 1 pound. One pound of fat is 3500 calories – aka 500 calories a day. The most accurate way to determine your TDEE is to use a calculator to determine a base number http://whataremymacros.com/ is considered one of the best calculators right now, and then you monitor your calorie intake your weight.
Once you’ve determined your TDEE, this is when you calculate your macros. An average person (not on a keto diet, or anything special) needs ~1g of protein per lb of lean body mass, .4g of fat per lb, and the rest are filled with carbs. Recent research suggests that the protein amount is WAY more than needed and that in fact, you only need about 1g of protein per KILOGRAM of body mass, but you do you! Personally, I find somewhere in between those two numbers are a happy medium for me, 1g/lb makes me dislike my meals and eating, while 1g/kg made me feel like I wasn’t recovering fast enough from exercising.
If you’ve skipped down, a basic version of what I wrote above is: you need to eat a certain number of calories in a day, and you can increase or decrease that amount to gain or lose weight. How you want to eat those calories will be determined by your macros. And, you can use a calculator to determine all of that. Honestly, I think it’s important to know where the numbers come from, even if you aren’t doing the calculation yourself, but I mean who am I to say what you do?
It’s just a few easy numbers to plug in and you’ll get all your numbers: http://whataremymacros.com/
While my original numbers were directly pulled from that site, I’ve adjusted mine since then based on how I felt about my own personal training and eating. When all is said and done, my personal macros are as follows:
- Total calories/day: 1700
- Carbs: 200g
- Fat: 60g
- Protein: 90g
And I yes, my carbs are quite high, but it works for my body, so who are you to say! Also, I really like carbs (bread bread bread).
This has been a really long and text-heavy post, so thanks for sticking around. Next time I’ll show you how I actually plan out meals and food around those numbers – and there’ll be pictures! 🙂