Hey all! Sorry this post is SO DAMN LATE. It’s been a sufficiently hectic weak at both my day job AND my dojo, which unfortunately has impacted blog updates for this week. WE WILL CATCH UP.
So, anyway, today’s post is on nutrition. Macronutrients in particular. I have made posts on macronutrients before, with The Big Guy Diet and The Fighter Diet, but I have learned a LOT since then, and the blog has come a long way. This is THE NEW official Be a Game Character nutrition bible! If you’re just looking for a straight-up guide on what to eat without understanding the theories behind it, skip to the “Diet Guidelines” section, but I really recommend you read the theories just because it’s nice to know what’s going on “under the hood,” so to speak (or under the bonnet for our friends across the pond).
So, what’s a macro?
Macro is shorthand fitness nerd slang for “macronutrient.” There’s actually three of them, and you probably have already heard of them. They are, in no particular order, protein, carbohydrates, and fat. They’re what make up the basic “building blocks” of everything you eat. Every bit of food that passes into your body will have SOME amount of at least one of these in them.
Macros vs. Calories
So, everything we eat has a certain caloric load, right? The three macros have direct caloric values, measured by number of grams of said macro. This sounds a little complicated, but it’s not. here’s what you need to remember:
1 Gram of Protein = 4 calories
1 Gram of Carbohydrates = 4 calories
1 Gram of Fat = 9 calories
You can see why fatty foods have a lot more calories in them! Do not immediately dismiss this as bad, though! This is because…
Not All Calories Are Created Equal
Basically, your body needs all of these macros to function properly. The key is getting a good balance. Unfortunately a lot of people have it in their head that either fat or carbohydrates are bad news for your body. However, this is NOT the case! Your body really needs BOTH of these nutrients in the right proportions. If you don’t get enough carbohydrates, your body doesn’t get enough glucose. If it doesn’t get enough glucose, it starts ripping your muscles apart to get it! No bueno! Complex carbohydrates also play a very important part in regulating your insulin cycles during periods of rest and exercise, (which can have a big impact on weight loss).
Fat, on the other hand, is the best damn energy source your body can ingest. It’s, as you can see, almost TWICE as dense, calorically, than the other macros. In addition to this, you need fat in your body in order to properly absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. As if that weren’t enough reasons for ya, your body also cannot product omega 3 and 6 fats, which are necessary for the growth and maintenance of mildly-important organs like your skin and your brain.
Protein, on the other hand, can do no wrong, so eat as much of it as you like. Right? WRONG. Excessive amounts of protein in absence of the other macros, especially from a sudden diet switch, can cause issues like kidney and gall stones. Owwie.
So, in the interest of looking at things in a “big picture” manner, we need to look at our…
If you’ve watched my video on nutrition, or read The Reset Button (you can get it for free by joining the email list), you know in order to lose or gain weight, you need to be operating at a calorie deficit or surplus (respectively). As such, you need to calculate your daily calorie maintenance requirements (watch the video or get The Reset Button!) Once you’ve got that, you know how many calories you need every day to “maintain” your weight. Of course, if you’re trying to gain or lose weight, you need to increase or adjust these calories accordingly.
So, you have your target calories, and you have the calorie values for a gram of each “macro.” Now with just a wee bit of math, we’ll take a look at what you should be shooting for! The main lever we’re going to be cranking on here is your carbohydrate intake. Why? Well, basically, you want to hit your target levels for protein and fat, and exceeding these isn’t going to do your body much more good than if you hit the recommended level. BUT, we need to add more calories somehow, and carbohydrates are conveniently what your body uses for fuel, so when you’re lifting heavy to get big we can just dump them on there to make up our caloric difference! Also, if you’re trying to LOSE weight, protein and fat are generally much better at making you feel full (sated) than an equivalent number of calories in carbohydrate form.
To Lose Weight:
Daily calorie intake should be 10-20% less than your caloric maintenance levels (usually around 300-600 calories).
0.6-0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight (or 1.4-1.8 grams/kg)
0.4-1 gram of fat per pound of bodyweight (1-2 grams/kg)
2 – 3 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight (4.5 – 6.5 grams/ kg ) (if you’re very active, you can increase these)
To Gain Weight:
Daily calorie intake should be 10-20% more than your caloric maintenance levels (usually around 300-600 calories).
1-1.25 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight (or 2.2-2.8 grams/kg)
0.6-1.5 gram of fat per pound of bodyweight (1.1-2.25 grams/kg)
4 – 6 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight (8.5 -12 grams/ kg )
To Maintain Weight:
Use the first set of guidelines, and just hit your caloric maintenance levels. If you still lose weight, raise cardbohydrate intake appropriately.
What to Eat?
Well, even though The Fighter Diet and The Big Guy Diet are a bit defunct on their numbers, their food suggestions are still good! A general rule of thumb I like to stick to is leans, beans, and greens. Eat lots of lean protein, lots of greens, and complex carbohydrates like beans, lentils, and whole grains. Making sure you eat lots of veggies (the greens) also ensures you get all the micronutrients you need, which are your vitamins, mineral, etc. Remember, macros aren’t everything!
I hope this post helped you understand what’s going on in your food a bit better, as well as update the nutrition advice on the blog a bit. Feel free to drop by the nutrition forum if you have any questions. A new character spotlight should be going up tomorrow, so get excited about that! Until then, remember to live boldly, change the world, and continue to be awesome!
Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace