Macros, short for macronutrients, refer to the three major nutrient groups that make up the bulk of our daily calorie intake: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. The concept of tracking macros has become increasingly popular in recent years, particularly in the context of sports nutrition and weight management.
IIFYM, which stands for “If It Fits Your Macros,” is a flexible dieting approach that allows individuals to consume a variety of foods as long as they stay within their prescribed macronutrient targets. The goal of IIFYM is to achieve a balanced and sustainable diet that meets your specific nutritional needs while still allowing for some flexibility and indulgences.
Calculating macros involves determining the appropriate ratio of protein, carbs, and fat for an individual’s goals and needs. The most common way to do this is to use an online macro calculator. The calculator will take into account factors such as age, gender, weight, height, activity level, and goals (e.g., building muscle, losing fat, or maintaining weight) to determine the optimal macro ratio. No need to worry about this part, I will calculate the appropriate calories and macronutrient content required for you.
For starters, protein contains 4 calories per gram, while carbohydrates also contain 4 calories per gram, and fat contains 9 calories per gram. That means it takes more than 2x the energy to burn a gram of fat than it does to burn a gram of protein or carbohydrates.
With that being said, the daily macronutrient targets for the high school athlete consuming 3000 calories that wants to gain lean muscle mass would be as follows:
Protein: 250 grams (1000 calories from protein)
Carbohydrates: 350 grams (1400 calories from carbs)
Fat: 80 grams (720 calories from fat)
Think about the three types of macros like different “buckets” or a “bank” of grams that you can use throughout the day. For the protein bucket or bank, you have 250 grams to use for the day for your meals. For carbs you have a 350 gram bucket or bank and for fats you have an 80 gram bucket.
To illustrate how IIFYM and the bucket/bank system works, we will use an example meal so that you can better see what I am talking about.
Now say you want to eat breakfast from McDonald’s (I don’t recommend this but to each their own). You order a sausage egg mcmuffin, a hash brown then wash it down with a medium iced vanilla coffee. This is how it would break down.
The sausage egg mcmuffin has
- 450 calories
- 21 grams of protein
- 30 grams of carbs
- 27 grams of fat
The hash brown has
- 144 calories
- 1 gram of protein
- 15 grams of carbs
- 9 grams of fat
The vanilla iced coffee has
- 190 calories
- 2 grams of protein
- 29 grams of carbs
- 8 grams of fat
So as you can see, this meal uses
- 784 of your allotted 3000 calories for the day
- 24 grams of your protein
- 74 grams of carbs
- 44 grams of fat
After consuming this meal, you now have
- 2216 total calories left for the day
- 226 grams of protein
- 276 grams of carbs left and
- only 36 grams of fat left for the day
Not bad right? Only 2216 calories to go for the day which will be easy to hit with two more meals of the same size and a snack or two.
Well actually….. THAT’S TERRIBLE!
Not only have you “used’ more than half your fats for the day (IN ONE MEAL!), you still have
- 226 grams of protein and
- 276 grams of carbs left to eat for the day
Now you may be saying, “That’s not too bad, I can eat that in two meals no problem!”
For you to be able to eat all of your calories AND be able to hit the required amount of each macronutrient (protein, carbs and fats), you’ll need to eat at least 100 grams of protein and at least 130 grams of carbs for BOTH lunch and dinner!
That’s 4x as much protein and 2x as many carbs than you ate for breakfast that you will now have to eat for both lunch and dinner since you wanted McDonald’s for break fast.
While this may be a high calorie meal that may help you reach your 3000 calorie/day limit, it’s terrible for your goal of gaining lean muscle mass.
Don’t do this to yourself.
Balance your meals accordingly.
Eat high protein, high carb and low fat meals to avoid “using” too much of one of your banks.
To help you all (the parents) plan meals that meet these macronutrient targets, here are some examples of meals that could be consumed throughout the day:
4 whole eggs (24g protein, 0g carbs, 20g fat)
1 cup cooked oatmeal (6g protein, 27g carbs, 3g fat)
1 banana (1g protein, 27g carbs, 0g fat)
Protein shake (50g protein, 6g carbs, 6g fat)
1 apple (0g protein, 25g carbs, 0g fat)
2 tablespoons peanut butter (8g protein, 6g carbs, 16g fat)
6 oz grilled chicken breast (44g protein, 0g carbs, 6g fat)
1 cup cooked quinoa (8g protein, 39g carbs, 3g fat)
1 cup steamed broccoli (3g protein, 6g carbs, 0g fat)
1 cup Greek yogurt (24g protein, 9g carbs, 0g fat)
1 cup mixed berries (1g protein, 17g carbs, 0g fat)
8 oz grilled salmon (40g protein, 0g carbs, 20g fat)
1 medium sweet potato (4g protein, 27g carbs, 0g fat)
1 cup roasted Brussels sprouts (3g protein, 12g carbs, 0g fat)
Protein shake (50g protein, 6g carbs, 6g fat)
It’s important to note that these meals are just examples and may need to be adjusted based on individual preferences and needs. Notice that some meals have lower protein content or the total protein content hasn’t been reached for the day so a protein shake was added to meet daily needs. Do this as necessary.
It’s also important to prioritize nutrient-dense foods and aim for a variety of sources within each macronutrient group to ensure adequate intake of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients!
While this isn’t a complete list or exhaustive guide, I hope that you can take the main concepts from this lesson and immediately apply them to your diet so that you can be one step closer to achieving your weight gain goal.