Nutrition: How Do You Calculate Macronutrients?

How do you provide exactly what your body needs for performance while maintaining your figure? The answer in 4 points.

Nutrition: How Do You Calculate Macronutrients?

You're working on getting in shape, and you're following a weight training plan and a nutrition plan prepared with care by your coach and/or nutritionist. You just want to know how it works. Here, we explain how to calculate your macronutrients.


What Are Macronutrients? A Brief Explanation...

Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins... we all know the words, but what are they really? A food can be an apple, bread, cheese, mushrooms... When we eat food, we chew it, swallow it, and digest it to free its nutrients. In other words, nutrients make up the food we eat, and are absorbed by the intestine once the food is digested.


There Are Two Types of Nutrients:

Macronutrients are large molecules generally grouped into carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

Micro nutrients are smaller molecules such as mineral salts and trace elements, vitamins and fibers.

To function well, the body needs a perfect balance of quality and quantity of all nutrients.


Where Do We Start? 3 Steps to Help You Out

To determine your macronutrient needs, you first need to calculate what is called your daily energy requirement. This is what your body needs each day to keep you in good health and good shape.

The results are obtained using scientific equations or using specially designed applications. In both cases, you'll need to calculate two things: your basal metabolic rate (BAR) and your physical activity level (PAL).

Step 1: Determining Your Basal Metabolic Rate (Bar)

Your basal metabolic rate is the energy that your body uses at rest to perform its vital functions (breathing, digestion, maintaining body temperature, cardiovascular and cerebral systems). To calculate it, you need to know your age, weight, and height. It is expressed in Kcal (kilo-calories) and we generally use this equation:

For women: BM = 9.740 x W + 172.9 x H – 4.737 x A + 667.051
For men: BM = 13.707 x W + 492.3 x H – 6.673 x A + 77.607
BM = Base Metabolism (in Calories), W = Weight (in kg), H = Height (in meters), A = Age (in years)

Important: this formula works for individuals who are not very active; those who do sports regularly will have a higher base metabolism.


Step 2: Defining Your Activity Level

Your physical activity level corresponds to the energy you spend in 24 hours, including sleep, naps, seated or standing positions, professional and/or athletic activities, etc.

Here is a classification that will help you choose your activity level, or else you can use an application that will do it for you.

If you are sedentary, your activity level is between 1 and 1.39
If you are slightly active, your activity level is between 1.4 and 1.59
If you are active, your activity level is between 1.6 and 1.89
If you are very active, your activity level is between 1.9 and 2.5

Step 3: Calculating Your Daily Energy Requirement (DER)

It's very simple! Just multiply your BAR by your activity level.

Here's an example:

If my BAR is 1258 Kcal and my activity level is 1.4.
I get:
DER = BAR x PAL = 1258 x 1.4 = 1761.2 Kcal.

What does that mean? That my body needs around 1761.2 Kcal each day to function well. Your daily energy requirement is also called your recommended daily allowance.


Distribution of Macronutrients for Weight Training: How Do You Do It?

You have 2 options: either you rebalance your nutrition, or you follow nutritional guidelines for muscle gain. One can also be done after the other.

In both cases, here is a little recap of each macronutrient’s caloric contributions:

Carbohydrates, or sugars, play a role that essentially consists of delivering energy. 1 g of carbohydrates provides 4 kcal.

Proteins composed of amino acids have a role in building cells (muscles, organs, immune system, etc.). 1 g of protein provides 4 kcal.

Finally, fats (lipids, fatty acids) play a role in the cerebral system, the immune system, skin health, etc. 1 g of fats provides 9 kcal.

For a Balanced Diet:

For our daily energy requirement of 1761.2 Kcal, we base our diet on 50% carbohydrates, 15% proteins, and 35% fats. We get:
Carbohydrates: 50% = 880.7 Kcal = 880.6 / 4 = 220.15g of carbohydrates per day. 
Proteins: 15% = 264.18 Kcal = 264.8 / 4 = 6g of proteins per day
Fats (lipids): 35% = 528.4 Kcal = 528.4 / 9 = 58.7g of fats per day


For gaining muscle mass:

We're talking in terms of grams per body weight, which corresponds to:
1g of fats per body weight
3 to 4g of carbohydrates per body weight.
2g of proteins per body weight.
In concrete terms, if you weight 70kg, you will need the following each day to maintain and build muscle mass:
1 x 70 = 70g of fats
4 x 70 = 280g of carbohydrates
2 x 70 = 140g of proteins


Nutrition Tables: the Last Step

When you have computed the amount of carbohydrates, proteins and fats to eat each day, use a nutritional table (a little cumbersome but doable), or an app to record and calculate what you eat every day. This allows you to check that you aren't eating too much or too little, and that you're getting the right amount of macronutrients.

Nutrition is an essential factor in meeting your goals!

You're now ready for a diet that is perfectly broken down by macronutrient to the gram or calorie!

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