Putting on muscle mass is one of the biggest challenges for anyone who wants to not only improve their strength and stamina, but also get the aesthetic results that they want from their workouts.
Paying attention to your macros and adjusting your diet in order to optimize your muscle-building abilities is something that lots of people do to supplement their exercise routines in the right way.
Of course, if you are a total newcomer, the whole concept of macros can be confusing, before you even get into the complexities of counting them. To bring you up to speed, here is a look at the basics and the aspects to bear in mind as you begin the process of bulking up.
Macros, otherwise known as macronutrients, are the fundamental nutrients of any diet, and consist of a core trio of fats, carbohydrates and protein.
Monitoring and managing your intake of these three elements can help you to work towards whatever targets you are hoping to hit, whether you are intending to count macros for muscle gain, to lose weight or even to put on a few pounds if you are underweight.
For a long time, there was a focus on calorie counting when approaching diets, but more nutritional research has allowed us to understand that looking into the balance of macros in what you eat and adjusting these can deliver the desired effect more consistently and healthily.
This comes down to the fact that adjusting your caloric intake without thinking about what you are actually eating is often problematic. For example, you could adopt a low calorie diet by eating nothing but a set amount of chocolate each day, which might leave you with a slimmer waistline but would ultimately mean that you were missing out on important nutrients like protein, which is of course key to building muscle.
We have already mentioned the three most important macros to be aware of, and there are a few more considerations to keep in mind if macro counting is something you intend to do.
You can assign certain foods to each one of the groups according to the most prominent macro they offer; in the case of rice, bread and root vegetables, the prevalence of carbohydrates is at the top of the agenda, for example.
However, it is also worth noting that some foods are rich in more than one macro. So when it comes to things like nuts and dairy products, you are typically getting a decent dose of both protein as well as fat.
Being aware of these variations and encompassing them in your calculations will make it simpler to ensure that you are organizing your diet in the right way, especially if you have the goal of bulking up.
Now that you have an understanding of what macros are and how they can benefit those looking for a tighter level of control over their diets, it’s necessary to talk about how this applies from a muscle building perspective.
As you might expect, protein is the most significant of the three key macros for anyone who is getting into body building at whatever level suits them. However, you still need to be conscious of how you are balancing your intake, as of course, you cannot completely eradicate carbs and fat in pursuit of pure protein intake, either from a health perspective or from the point of view of practicality.
The idea is to combine both an awareness of the calorie intake you need to train and gain, and knowledge of how many calories are being provided by protein, carbs and fat.
With all of this information to hand, you will then be able to plan your meals and plot out your workout schedule.
Clearly, it will be a requirement that you tailor the calculations according to your ultimate goals, and also that you stick to the routine you create, otherwise you will be wasting the opportunity to bulk up and could ultimately find that different outcomes arise if for example you skip weight training sessions but keep eating the same volumes and proportions of nutrients.
When you delve into the topic of counting macros deeper, you will find that there are all sorts of variables to tinker with and adjustments to make as your experience and understanding grows.
However, as a starting point let’s consider a straightforward example focusing on protein and using this as the basis for the rest of the macro counting and meal prep process.
Working out your ideal protein macros is as simple as multiplying the amount you currently weigh in pounds by 1.25. This figure will equate to the number of grams of protein you should aim to consume in a given 24 hour period.
In the case that you weigh 200lbs, that would equate to 250g of protein. In turn, you can calculate how many calories are in this by quadrupling the aforementioned portion of protein, which here would give you precisely 1000.
If you are aiming for a daily calorie intake of 3800 in conjunction with a rigorous weight training routine, then 1000 of this total will therefore need to be made up of protein-rich foodstuffs. The remaining 2800 calories should be split evenly between carbohydrates and fats, which should give you the energy you need to maximize the potential of all of your mass-building efforts.
The practice of counting macros can help all sorts of people, not just those who want to bulk up quickly. You simply need to know what you want to achieve and stick to the plans you put in place based on the calculations you make.
Of course, it is also important to pay attention to how your diet and exercise regimen is actually impacting your body and to make changes if something is not working out as you had planned it.