So I touched on this subject a little on Sunday’s blog post, in case you missed it, click here: What really matter on food labels.
Let’s dig a little deeper into calculating Calories and your Macro groups. And just remember that even if you follow my advice to the letter, it’s still estimation and some tweaking may be necessary.
Now Before you can get down to the nitty gritty of working out what macros you need to start flexible dieting (that`s where you pick and track your own foods to hit your macronutrient targets – in my opinion, the healthiest method of dieting), you need to first calculate your calorie target.
It’s important to remember that regardless of what approach you take, your calorie target is an estimation, not an exact number. I personally know I don’t hit my calorie count every day to the exact calorie. Why? Because I don’t weigh my foods. I measure by eye, and if I’m hungry, then I’ll go back for seconds. It’s about being mindful of portion sizes, but I do know a rough estimate of how many calories I take in a day, and this comes from experience, research and tracking once upon a time.
Let’s calculate your TDEE – Total Daily Energy Expenditure.
The Mifflin, M. D., St Jeor formula is one of the most popular and one of the most respected methods used to calculate your TDEE.
First we calculate your BMR – Basic Metabolic Rate or Resting Energy Expenditure (REE), which is the energy it takes to run your body without any movement. This is essentially the amount of energy expended per day before we add in you activity levels.
Men: 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) + 5
Women: 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) – 161.
Now that we’ve worked out your BMR, we need to multiply it by a Physical Activity Ratio (the estimated cost of activity he does per day). Since most people don’t lie in bed all day doing absolutely nothing, we use the following as a guide:
1.2 if you do little or no exercise
1.4 if you do exercise a couple of times per week
1.5 to 1.7 if you exercise several times per week
1.9+ if you exercise every day or have a hard, physical job
Okay, to give you an example, I am going to do my own out throughout:
(10 x 63(weight in kg)) + (6.25 x 169(height in cm)) – (5 x 21 (Age in y)) – 161 = 1420.25 = REE/BMR
Next we calculate the TDEE:
1420.25 x 1.7 = 2414.5 = TDEE
In order to lose fat, I would need to create a calorie deficit. This means I will need to consume less calories than I need per day in order to lose fat. A 15-20% deficit is often a good place to start. If you’re looking to gain weight, then I suggest a 15-20% increase.
You may go higher or lower depending on your starting body fat levels, your goals and energy requirements.
• Eat more than this = weight gain.
• Eat less than this = weight loss.
• Eat this amount = weight maintenance.
As I mentioned, it’s sometimes not as black and white for all people, but for simplicity’s sake let’s imagine it is.
All cool? Now we know how many calories to aim for, let’s calculate some macros for cutting.
I’ve found losing weight and losing fat can be two different things (you can lose muscle too), hence the importance of measuring each macronutrient.
Let’s start with Protein:
A higher protein diet can be a great tool for fat loss. It helps preserve muscle tissue and it helps to keep you feeling full. Protein is essential for the growth of new tissue as well as fixing broken tissue – like what happens when you work out. Protein should be your new best friend if you want to gain or maintain muscle.
A good figure to aim for – when flexible dieting – is often around 2g per kg of bodyweight.
For 63 kg Me, that would be around 126g of protein.
Lets look at Fat:
How much fat should you eat to lose fat largely depends on preference.
While the name “fat” might strike fear into the hearts of dieters across the land, you need a certain amount of fat in your diet to stay healthy.
Fat has a host of important functions in the body. Fats are essential for cell growth, repair, brain function and a host of other essential bodily functions!
There is 2 ways you can calculate fat:
Aiming for a fat intake between 0.7g – 1.2g per kg of bodyweight might be a good start.
As an example on my flexible dieting plan, I am going to aim for around 1g per kg so that would be 63g Fat (using my own cals).
Another way perhaps is to designate 25% of overall TDEE calories to fat. This may be adjusted, but this is the starting point:
1932 cals x 25% = 483 divided by 9 (9 calories per gram of fat)= 54g Fat.
Lastly, let’s calculate Carbs:
So far we’ve worked out that my total calorie intake is: 1932 calories (TDEE – 20%).
My protein target 126g.
And my fat target 63g.
That means we now need to calculate my carbohydrate requirements. To do this, we’ll first work out how many calories we’ve assigned already. Remember how to do this?
4 calories per gram of protein and 9 calories per gram of fat, right?
That means I have been assigned 1360 kcal so far (126×4) + (63×9).
If we subtract 1071 from my calorie target (1932), I am left with 861 kcal remaining for carbohydrates.
Divide this number by 4 (because there are 4 kcal per g of carbohydrate) then my carb target is 215g.
There you have it – My daily macros to lose fat would be:
1932 kcal = 126g protein, 63g fat and 215g carbohydrate.
So what now?
I’ve shown you how to calculate macros, to start flexible dieting you need to go and start tracking your intake and aim to hit those targets! A good tool to track your macros would be My Fitness Pal. What foods you eat are largely down to you. It would be a smart move to think of food quality first and foremost. Embrace those micronutrients!
Aim for nutrient dense, fresh, tasty foods that you love that are packed full of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Flexible dieting or IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) isn’t about how much junk you can stuff into a meal plan. It’s about eating a range of nutritious foods (for the majority) that you love, that allow you to hit your macro targets, whist maintaining an element of flexibility. While I’m an advocate that you shouldn’t be weighing all your foods etxc, it might be something you adapt to for a week or 2 to get used to the portion control etc. A lot of nutritional information is available on food packaging, however, a scale will ensure you accurately track what you eat. Once you have gotten the hang of it, then you can do it intuitively.
And that’s it. Do the above and you will be well on your way to getting started with Flexible Dieting. As I mentioned the above guidelines aren’t perfect. But it’s a starting place. It won’t be easy, you will need to mess around with your macro’s and portions, it requires prep. But if you’re truly serious about eating healthy and loosing weight, then that’s a time sacrifice you’ll need to make for a few weeks before you get the hang of it.
If you’re really confused with the above, the do reach out to me, and I can aim help as best I can.