Last week I talked about bulking and how you need to make sure you eat enough in order to gain weight (muscle). Ofcourse, knowing how many calories to eat is not that useful if you don’t know where those calories should come from. In this article we will be showing you how to split your total amount of calories into proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Or to say it in bodybuilding terms; We’ll show you how to get your “macros” right.
Macros are of course proteins, carbohydrates and fats. The word “macro” simply means large, because these are the nutrients the body needs in large quantities for energy, growth, tissue repair, immune function, metabolism and other essential functions in the body.
The body also needs micronutrients (“micro” meaning small). These are vitamins, minerals and trace elements which are essential for regulating processes in the body, enabling chemical reactions to occur and for general health.
Each of the three primary macronutrients provides a certain number of calories:
1 gram of protein = 4 calories
1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories
1 gram of fat = 9 calories
A good macro ratio for gaining lean muscle mass is 35/45/20 daily:
35% of calories from proteins
45% of calories from carbohydrates
20% of calories from fats
There is no single best – set in stone – macronutrient ratio for building lean muscle mass. You’ll no doubt find different ratio’s for bulking diets but most of the time they will be similar, give or take 5 – 10%.
Now here’s how to create a daily meal plan using this ratio:
Let’s go back to our example from the article about bulking. That guy needed 2798 calories as maintenance, let’s round it up to 2800 kcal and use this number to split into protein, carbs and fats.
Using protein as an example, simply calculate 35% of 2800 calories, which will give you 980 calories of protein. Divide this result by 4, because every gram of protein contains 4 calories.
35% of 2800 = (2800 * 35) ÷ 100 = 980
Now take the answer and divide it by 4 to find out how many grams of protein to eat daily.
980 ÷ 4 = 245 grams of protein
Below is the complete formula for converting the percentage of macronutrients into grams per day.
Protein: 35% of 2800 = 980 calories ÷ 4 = 245g per day
Carbs: 45% of 2800 = 1260 calories ÷ 4 = 315g per day
Fat: 20% of 2800 = 560 calories ÷ 9 = 62g per day
You don’t need to freak out and eat exactly the right amount of grams of protein or carbs each day. This doesn’t need to be 100% accurate, in fact, it would be impossible to do so. Not even Phil Heath gets his macros spot on. Instead, you should use these numbers as a guideline so that you’re eating enough calories and in the right ratio’s macro-wise. Doing this will maximize the increase of lean muscle mass while keeping fat gains at a minimum.