But knowing how many calories you need to eat is useless if you don’t know where these calories come from. After calculating your caloric needs, the next step is to divide these calories into an optimal macronutrient factor, simply called “macros” in the world of bodybuilding.
Macros are, of course, proteins, carbohydrates and fats. The word “macro” simply means big, because these nutrients are needed by the body in large quantities for energy, growth, tissue repair, immune function, metabolism, and other important things in the body.
The body also needs trace elements (“micro”, which means small). These are vitamins, minerals and trace elements that are necessary for regulating the processes in the body that allow chemical reactions to proceed correctly. They are also needed for general health.
Each of the three main macros provides a certain amount of calories:
- 1 gram of protein contains 4 calories
- 1 gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories
- 1 gram of fat gives 9 calories
The ideal macro ratio for acquiring a 35/45/20 lean muscle mass daily:
- 35% of protein calories
- 45% calories from carbohydrates
- 20% calories from fat
There is no one better – this is an iron rule – the ratio of macronutrients for building muscle. You will find various other effective weight gain diets, but generally they follow the same formula, adding or subtracting from 5 to 10%.
Now let’s create a daily meal plan using this ratio.
Suppose you understand that you need 2,800 calories per day in order to start building muscles.
Using protein as an example, simply calculate 35% of the 2,800 calories (use the calculator built into the Google search box as a quick way to do this calculation), and then divide the answer by 4, because each gram of protein contains 4 calories.
35% of 2,800 = 980
Still not falling asleep? Fine…
Now take this answer and divide it by 4 to find out how many grams of protein there are every day.
980 ÷ 4 = 245 grams of protein
Below is the complete formula for converting a percentage of macronutrients to the number of grams per day.
- Protein: 35% of 2800 = 980 calories ÷ 4 = 245 g per day
- Carbohydrates: 45% of 2800 = 1260 calories ÷ 4 = 315 g per day
- Fat: 20% of 2800 = 560 calories ÷ 9 = 62 g per day
You do not need to obsessively be 100% accurate with these macro coefficients or grams of nutrients. It would be impossible to do everything with manic precision. Even Jay Cutler gets his macros from foods, not counting them very precisely each time. These numbers are just a good guide to action. You get enough calories and the ratio of nutrients to ensure muscle growth while minimizing body fat.