Nutrition Tips

How Much Should I Eat?

pf-macros.png

As a nutritionist and dietician, this is a question I hear often: “How much should I eat?”

The true complexity of the answer never fails to surprise people. My response is usually “Well, it entirely depends on the details. What’s your age, height, weight, gender, body fat percentage, muscle mass percentage, current workout routine, nutrition history, risk factors, health complications, home/family structure, access to grocery stores, emotional connection to food and your goals?”… At that point people’s faces reveal that they’ve never considered the fact that their intake may differ greatly from what they’ve believed, and they’re 100% unsure where to begin.

The nutrition plans I create for my clients are not made through a generic calculator – I base them entirely on the needs of the individual. What works for some won’t work for others, and my knowledge of this comes from working with over 2000 people over the course of 12 years.

However, not everyone wants a nutritionist, not everyone can afford help. I am asked regularly for “general guidelines” to push people in the right direction. Below are some recommendations for the daily ratio of macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein and fat) that should be consumed based on broad categories that can serve as a jumping off point for those interested in changing their intake. Also included are very brief explanations of what each macronutrient is and how the body uses them.

Carbohydrates

  • Provides fuel during high-intensity exercise, and fuels brain activity and function
  • Spares protein (to preserve muscle mass during exercise)
  • 1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories

Active Individuals (General Fitness Program, 2 to 3 days/week)

  • 45 to 55 percent total carbohydrates [3 to 5 grams per kg of bodyweight per day]

Medium to High-intensity Training (1 to 2 hours per day, 4 to 6 days/week)

  • 55 to 65 percent total carbohydrates [5 to 8 grams per kg of bodyweight per day]
  • 1 to 1.5 grams per kg of bodyweight should be consumed post-workout (3:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein)

For Weight Loss/Decreased Body Fat 

  • 40 to 50 percent total carbohydrates [2.5 to 4 grams per kg of bodyweight per day]; choose lower-glycemic carbohydrate sources, particularly later in the day
  • 5 g per kilogram of bodyweight post-workout; choose lower-glycemic carbohydrates or low-fat carbohydrate/protein sources such as fruit or cottage cheese  

Protein

  • Used for building, repairing and maintaining body tissues
  • Involved in metabolic, transport and hormone systems
  • Component of enzymes that regulate metabolism
  • 1 gram of protein = 4 calories

Active Individuals (General Fitness Program, 2 to 3 days/week)

  • 15 to 20 percent total protein [1 to 1.5 g/kg BW per day]

Medium to High-intensity Training (1 to 2 hours per day, 4 to 6 days/week)

  • 20 to 30 percent total protein [1.5 to 2 g/kg BW per day]; this is equivalent to 5 to 10 servings of quality protein sources per day
  • 0.3 to 0.5g/kg post-workout [3:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein]

For Weight Loss/Decreased Body fat

  • 25 to 30 percent total protein (1.5 to 2 g/kg BW per day); a protein intake of approximately 25 to 30 percent of calories has been shown to boost metabolism by up to 80 to 100 calories per day, compared to lower-protein diets

Fat

  • Energy reserve
  • Protects vital organs
  • Insulation
  • Transport of fat-soluble vitamins
  • 1 gram of fat = 9 calories

Active Individuals (General Fitness Program, 2 to 3 days/week)

  • 25 to 35 percent total fat [0.5 to 1.0 g/kg BW per day]

Medium to High-intensity Training (1 to 2 hours per day, 4 to 6 days/week)

  • Approximately 30 percent total fat [0.5 to 1 g/kg BW per day]
  • Choose minimal to low-fat pre- and post-workout nutrition to allow for better digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and proteins

For Weight Loss/Decreased Body fat

  • 20 to 25 percent total fat [0.3 to 0.5 g/kg BW per day]
  • Choose higher sources of unsaturated and essential fatty acids (such as fish oils, nuts/seeds, vegetable oils, etc.) to support immune system and metabolism

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s