Three easy steps to calculate your daily nutrient intake.
So I am sure that many of you have heard or are familiar with the terms IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) or Flexible Dieting. If you have not heard these terms, IIFYM means that you can essentially eat anything you want as long as your total intake of calories and nutrients stays within a certain guideline or parameter. So you can eat cheeseburgers, ice cream, pizza, etc., as long it is only a certain amount. Flexible Dieting is similar but the main idea is to be in a caloric deficit and eat junk food in moderation while still maintaining a certain guideline. Now keep in mind these concepts are theoretical and I do not endorse either one. I am bringing them up because the three steps I will show you to calculate your intake needs can be applied to just about and eating lifestyle, whether you’re paleo, vegetarian, gluten free, or none of the above. I recommend eating whole organic foods with plenty of fruits and vegetables, I also believe and tell my clients that most people need more fat in their diet. Fat is not bad and will not make you fat. As you will see in these charts and calculations most people will need to consume more fat and less carbohydrates. Not low carb just less carbs.
Step 1: Determine Caloric Needs (Activity Level)
There are three activity levels:
Sedentary (minimal exercise)
Moderately Active (3-4 times/week)
Very Active (5-7 times/week)
Pick which category is realistic for you, if you don’t go to the gym at all you are Sedentary, if you are an average gym goer you are Moderately Active, if you train hard pretty much everyday then you are Very Active.
Step 2: Determine your goal
Do you want to lose weight, maintain, or gain weight? The chart below gives you a quick and easy guide to determine both steps 1 and 2. Multiply the numbers in your goal area by your body weight in pounds and the will give you your caloric range. Keep in mind if you are supposed to eat 1400 calories but you workout and burn 400 calories, then you’ve only eaten 1000 calories and should make up some of the deficit. If weight loss is your goal you will want to be in a deficit anyway. If you are following these numbers for a few weeks and you’re not losing weight you will want to adjust and take 250 extra calories out of your daily intake.
Step 3: Determine Somatotype (body type) and Macronutrient Needs
As you can see from the diagram below there are three different body types.
- Ectomorph- Naturally thin with skinny limbs
- Mesomorph-Naturally muscular and athletic
- Endomorph-Naturally broad and thick
It is possible to be a combination of two somatotypes and your lifestyle can alter your natural somatotype. Don’t over think it while trying to figure it out; these classifications are a tool to determine your ideal starting macronutrient percentages.
|Activity Preference||Characteristics||Typical goals||Protein||Carbohydrates||Fat|
|Ectomorph||Thyroid Dominant||Gain Muscle and Strength||25%||55%||20%|
|Endurance Exercise||Fast Metabolism||Maintain Bodyweight|
|Higher Carb Tolerance|
|Mesomorph||Testosterone Dominant||Build Muscle, Low Body fat||30%||40%||30%|
|Body Building/ Strength Training||Moderate Carb Tolerance||Athletic Performance|
|Endomorph||Insulin Dominant||Lose Body fat||35%||25%||40%|
|Absolute Strength Exercises||Slow Metabolism|
|Low Carb Tolerance|
Example: a 140 lb., Moderately Active Woman who is a Endomorph and is interested in Fat loss would calculate her calories and macronutrients as so;
(140×10)=1400 calories and (140×12)=1680 calories. So she would eat between 1400-1680 calories per day and based on the chart above because she is endomorphic her Macronutrients would be 35%-Protein, 25%-Carbs, 40%-fat.
I know what you’re thinking, 40% fat? That seems like a lot. I thought fat was bad for you? This is common misinformation that has been used almost as propaganda for many years. Fat is not bad for you, fat will not make you fat, you need fat in your diet for hormonal function and to help you process vitamins A, D, E, and K. You need balanced fat intake; 1/3-polyunsaturated, 1/3-monounsaturated, and 1/3 saturated.
I usually start my clients who are looking to lose body fat and weight on a 30%-Protein, 30%-carbs, and 40%-fat split. I don’t like the carbs to be as low as 25% but find what works best for your body type.
Examples of fats:
Polyunsaturated-Sunflower oil, Fish oil, Chia seeds, and some nuts. Monounsaturated-olive oil, avocado, most nuts, and egg yolk.
Saturated- Grass fed butter/dairy, meat, and coconut oil.
So take these three simple steps, figure out your activity level, goals, and body type and you can quickly and easily calculate your nutrition needs. It is up to you on how you want to fill those calories and macronutrients but I recommend whole, organic foods, plenty of fruits and vegetables, grass fed butter, grass fed meats, plant protein powders, and drink a lot of water. I like mine with lemon in it for added health benefits!
I hope this information helps.
Aaron Delgrolice NSCA-CPT/PN1
(Source and information in this article was obtained from the Precision Nutrition Certification Manual)
By: John Berardi, PhD; Ryan Andrews, MS, MA, RD