Whether you want to gain muscle or lose weight, calculating the macronutrients in your diet can help you reach your fitness goals. A meal plan based on macros also has the potential to be less restrictive than many other diets. ZOZOFIT is here to help you understand what macronutrients are, find out how to determine your unique dietary requirements and get tips for creating a meal plan that meets your nutritional needs.
What Is a Meal Plan Based On Macros?
A meal plan built around macronutrients includes food that meets your daily calorie target and provides specific ratios of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Recommended macro breakdowns vary based on whether you want to build muscle, cut fat or maintain your current weight and body composition.
One of the main advantages of macro meal planning is that you can eat any food that corresponds to your targets. Macronutrient levels are often even more important than total calories. Every meal plan based on macros varies based on the activity level, age and physical condition of the individual for whom the plan is intended.
In most macro meal plans, carbohydrates account for anywhere from 45% to 65% of total calories, fat accounts for between 25% and 35% of total calories and 10% to 35% of total calories come from protein. Carbohydrates and proteins contain 4 calories per gram. Fats are more calorie-dense and contain 9 calories per gram.
What Should You Consider When Creating a Meal Plan?
Your height, weight, body fat percentage, life stage and nutritional or fitness goals all factor into macronutrient requirements. The first step towards creating a macro meal plan is to calculate your total daily energy expenditure and set a personalized calorie target. Next, you will need to break this target down into a meal plan based on macros.
Your total daily energy expenditure should cover your basal metabolic rate and the calories you burn through routine activities and exercise. Some meal plans incorporate carb cycling, which means that you eat more calories and carbohydrates on active days and fewer calories and carbs on days with less physical activity.
One of the main reasons why just cutting calories can prove to be an ineffective way to lose weight is that your body adapts to a calorie deficit and burns fewer calories even as you reduce your calorie consumption. Varying your calorie targets and macros in a macro meal plan for weight loss can prevent metabolic adaptation.
How Do You Create a Meal Plan Based On Macros?
Once you know your total daily energy expenditure, factor in your fitness goals. If you want to lose weight without losing muscle mass, aim for a calorie target that is 10% to 20% below your total daily energy expenditure. To build muscle with minimal fat, set a calorie target that is 10% to 20% above your total daily energy expenditure.
After setting your calorie targets, you will need to break these targets down into macros. When setting a target for carbohydrates, be aware that moderate exercise requires 5 to 7 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight per day. More intense exercise can call for anywhere from 6 grams to 12 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight to meet your daily energy needs.
Your protein target should meet or slightly exceed the general daily recommendation of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. You may need more protein if you are an athlete, an elderly person or someone with certain health conditions. Fat accounts for more calories in macro diets than protein and less than carbohydrates.
A meal plan based on macros breaks down calorie intake into carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Make sure you're choosing the right foods to support your fitness goals.
What Are Common Challenges for Meal Plans Based On Macros?
The main challenge for creating a meal plan based on macros involves developing meals and snacks that meet macronutrient requirements. You can look up recipes developed for macro meal plans, try prepared foods that meet standard macro requirements or write your own recipes based on accurate nutritional information and serving size measurements.
Dietary restrictions are also important considerations for macro meal planning. In the past, it was harder for vegetarians to satisfy protein and fat requirements. Substitutes for animal products are now more widely available and there are many vegetarian and vegan protein powders and supplements.
Another challenge associated with meal plans based on macros comes from the need to modify plans based on changes to your lifestyle or fitness goals. Short-term results can help you dial in the right targets and ratios. You can track the effects of your nutrition and fitness routine by taking 3D body scans with ZOZOFIT and use accurate body measurements to fine-tune your meal plan.
How Do You Measure Results of a Meal Plan Based On Macros?
Regular body scans can be the best way to make sure your meal plan is helping you reach your fitness goals. Simply weighing in will not indicate all of the effects of lifestyle changes. Body composition breakdowns and accurate measurements provide a more complete picture of results.
Another way to assess your meal plan is to take stock of how you feel. If you are exhausted or crave certain foods, you should make sure your food consumption actually aligns with your macro meal plan for weight loss. You could also try carb cycling or adjust your targets.
If you have a chronic health condition or you are concerned about nutrient deficiencies, you should consult your doctor, have a dietician or nutritionist review your meal plan or even get bloodwork to ensure that your diet is healthy. The more information you have, the more likely your macro diet is to be sustainable and capable of helping you reach your goals.
How Can a Meal Plan Based On Macros Help You Reach Your Goals?
Creating a meal plan with macros in mind can help you become more mindful of the nutrition you need to fuel your fitness goals. Keep in mind that a meal plan based on macros should change along with your priorities and lifestyle. Invest in a ZOZOSUIT and install the ZOZOFIT app to take unlimited body measurement scans, track your progress and optimize your nutrition and fitness routine.