Posted by on Jan 8, 2015 in Nutrition | 211 comments

No, Sons of Anarchy fans, this has nothing to do with SAMCRO- sorry. 

Maybe you have heard a little banter around the gym about MACROS. (I don’t know why I am capitalizing it, because it is not an acronym for anything.) Said banter is about MACROnutrients. Nutrients are substances needed for growth (a.k.a gainz), metabolism, and for other body functions. We homo sapiens require a lot of some nutrients, and less of others.  

Macronutrients are the nutrients which provide calories or energy. We call them MACRO because they are needed by the body in LARGE amounts. The three major macronutrients are protein, carbohydrates, and fat.

MICROnutrients, or nutrients required in much SMALLer amounts, are the vitamins and minerals required to orchestrate a range of functions essential to our health, development, and growth. We aren’t talking about them today. Deal with it. 

Back to macros.

Since attending a lecture held in August at CFR by Jordan Feigenbaum, a M.D., nutrition guru, and Starting Strength Coach, (we’ll call him Dr. Gainz,)  many attendees have been learning more about and implementing a more direct, data-driven way of eating. Said style is centered around consuming a certain macronutrient profile: fitting a specific amount of protein, carbohydrate, and fat into your calorie allotment each day, not through simply guessing, but by measuring and logging foods using scales and some sort of tool like My Fitness Pal. 

Many of you are going to be frustrated that this post will not tell you exactly what and when to eat. Let’s immediatly sidebar these frustrations aside with this imaginary scenario:

It is your first day at CFR or WS&C. You walk in, and some big guy with a beard and Chuck Taylors named Beau (not imaginary) tells you that whatever your goal in life is; you need to be strong. And to get strong, you are going to learn to Squat, Bench, Deadlift, and Press using the most technical and proficient way possible. This will help you avoid injury and keep you gaining strength for countless years to come. Then he puts on his hoodie, picks up his coffee mug (also not imaginary) tells you it should take you about an hour, says good luck, and walks out the back door. You look around at all the weights, wait- are those monkey bars hanging on the wall? Is that a giant tire?! What are those stands of huge metal Qtip-shaped things?!!a Why are there so many benches? Do you sit around a lot to get stronger? You scratch your head…Where do you start?

How much success would each of you have had in getting stronger without first being taught what the lifts were and how to perform each lift correctly? Have you not been learning and perfecting since day one? Does Beau adjust your squat form and weight in the same way he does the person squatting in front of you? No. The lifts may be the same, but they fit a little different on every body, and everybody. 

Counting macros is very similar. Today, we lay out the basics. Then it will be a work in progress. What works for one body, may not work for yours. You will have to TRACK YOUR FOOD. 

And I mean, for real. No guesstimates.

Tracking macronutrients allows you to successfully lose body weight ( in the strength-athlete’s case, without seeing loss of strength often associated with more rapid weight loss) or gain muscle mass at a steady and predictable rate. When your results stall, small shifts are made to your macros until you begin to see results again. If you want to be successful, and find out what macros fit YOU best, then patience and diligence will be required. As Dr. Gainz explains, tracking your macros is a data driven intervention which requires daily accountability. Daily accountability will drive long-term success. Kinda like adding weight to the bar in the gym, eh? On we go.


The Rules of Thumb

You will eat a specified number of calories each day. These calories will be broken into a specific amount (in grams) of Protein/Carbohydrate/Fat. 

Protein. **4 calories per 1 gram** You will eat 20-30 grams of protein every 3-5 hours. Doing so means that you will maximize Muscle Protein Synthesis-MPS (this is good.) Going longer than 5 hours  means your body begins to enter protein breakdown. (This is not good.) More synthesis means more muscle. Which means the ability to be more thermogenic; or burn calories. (This is also good.)

Don’t get greedy and think that eating every 25 minutes is going to maximize MPS. This is like putting gas in a full tank-you have to drive a little before you can add more, or the gas simply will not fit. And by little, I mean you have to drive for 3 hours. (That’s a terrible example. Deal with it.) Just remember; 3-5 hours. Daily protein will be around 1g per pound of body weight. 

Carbohydrates. **4 calories per 1 gram**  This will vary some based on your goals, however, if you have been eating steak and greens for the last 2 years, I can tell you it will be more than you think is possible, even if a major goal is body recomposition (losing weight while maintaining  and building strength).

Starchy vegetables, rice,  oats,  and other vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, etc), are great sources of carbohydrates. Milk is also a decent option if muscle gain is your goal, (and you can tolerate milk. Obviously). All my paleo people may blow a gasket when they see their carb number. Trust the process. You CAN count macros and eat real food.  Potatoes of all colors and white rice are real food. See? Easy. Carbohydrates are not the enemy. Repeat after me. 

Fats. **9 calories per 1 gram** This will round out the remainder of your calories. It will be less than you probably expect, (since it has more than 2x the calories per gram as our other macros, and is the least thermogenic.)  Again, this number will depend on your goal. BUT, regardless of your goal, no more daily mainlining of t-bones and freebasing kerrygold if you are counting your macros. It’s true; all my paleo people will likely have to go easy on the bacon. (Can you believe I said that. Now you see why it has taken since August to write this dang thing!) Lean cuts of meat are on the macro menu.

Fiber is the last main component in learning the art of counting your macros. Assuring that you get at least 25 grams of fiber a day will help clean up your carbohydrate sources. 100g of toast has ~2g fiber. 100g of broccoli has ~35g. Get it? Food choice still matters, even if you are being flexible.

What are MY macros?

I guarantee this will be easier to figure out than you expected. Just hop on over to this website, plug in all of your information into 4 easy steps, and take a look at what your macros would look like.





Our Average Joe Macro -who wants to see gains in the gym, and in the mirrior- plugs in his info, selects IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) as his nutrition plan, and, voila! MACROS!






He should be eating just about 3000 calories a day.

190 grams from Protein/397 grams from Carbohydrates/67 grams from Fat.




If serious about hitting these macros on the head every day, eyeballing portion sizes and reading labels is not going to do it. Mr. Joe Macro needs to buy a scale, preferably a digital one which weighs in grams (less than $15 at WalMart or similar stores), and create an account for daily tracking on My Fitness Pal (free), or some similar website. Then, he needs to hit the grocery store, start prepping, and start eating. And, of course, tracking. 

Interested? Intrigued? Want to figure out how your body really runs? 

This is where you begin.

Take a picture, write down your weight, plug in your numbers into the above calculator, and give it a whirl. Let us know what has happened after the first 7-10 days of counting your macros and training like usual. 

Daily accountability. Join the Dr. Gainz train to long term success. 

More Macro Fun to come in the near future. This was more than enough to digest!

Until Next Time…




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>