This post is part of our nutrition series. We recommend reading the first, second and third installments first: How Important is Nutrition to Exercise and Your Health; Planning your Nutrition? Start Here; and Macronutrient Calculations – Where to Begin.
The rule of thumb for weight gain or weight lose is a change of 3500 calories per week. Once we’ve calculated our daily caloric intake, we can figure our weekly total as well. Then it’s simply a matter of creating a deficit or an increase in calories to begin making noticeable changes.
To lose a pound, we must create a deficit of 3500 total calories over seven days. We can do this not only by cutting calories, but by using activity to assist with the deficit. Cutting 350 calories a day creates a 2450-calorie deficit over a seven-day period. Adding four days of exercise at 300 calories of work each session into that week gives us a 1200-calorie cut. Combined, we’ve reached a deficit of 3650 calories.
To gain a pound, we must increase our calories by 3500 a week. It deserves to be mentioned that gaining weight is easier than losing because all that’s required is increased calories – not activity.
Both scenarios sound straightforward, but from where are these calories coming?
- Protein: An exercising adult can safely consume a daily protein amount of 1.5 kg per pound of body weight. You can calculate this number by dividing your body weight in pounds by 2.2 and multiplying by 1.5. The result is your grams of daily protein.
- Carbohydrates: While a carbohydrate count will depend on your activity level, it’s safe to work with two to three times grams per pound of body weight. Multiply your body weight in pounds by 2, then multiply the result by four.
- Fats: After calculating our protein and carb calories, we’ll be left with fats.
It’s worth nothing that the American College Of Sports Medicine has stated that to maintain a healthy metabolic environment, a male should not lower his calories more than 1500 calories a day. A female client should not lower the calories more than 1200 calories a day.
Here’s an example of a man weighing 181 pounds who is trying to lose body fat and gain muscle:
181 divided by 2.2 = 82 kg
82 x 1.5 = 123 grams of protein daily
123 x 4 = 492 calories per day
At 2 grams per pound, and remembering that protein and carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram, our carbs look like this:
181 lbs x 2 = 362
362 x 4 = 1448 calories from carbs
492 (protein) + 1448 (carbs) = 1940
Fats will take us to our total number. If we’re aiming for 2100 calories in a day, our math looks like this:
2100 – 1940 = 160 calories from fat.
160 divided by 9 = 17.7 or 18 grams of fat daily
This is how we will figure out our daily macronutrients. Remember that this example is based on a male attempting to gain muscle and shed fat. Your numbers will vary based on your gender, activity level and personal goals, and I’m happy to help you figure them out.
Once we know what to consume on a daily basis, the next step is reading labels and tracking macros. It sounds tedious, but today’s technologies and apps make it relatively simple – even if you’re eating out.
Visit us next week for a closer look at healthy meal options that will keep you on track. If you have questions about calculating your macronutrients, you can reach me here.