Everywhere, and I mean everywhere you turn these days you read about or see on TV people talking about Low Fat this, ZERO grams of Carbs here….It is enough to drive a nutritionalist nuts! There are specific percentages of each that we should be eating every single day and if you try to restrict yourself from eating certain types of foods to pre vent certain nutrients, well, your not going to get very far.
First of all, we are all different. Every single one of us. What I need for carbs is no where near what you may need! There is no one size fits all when it comes to nutrition. It just doesn’t work that way. So Jim, how do I know what I need? The answer is both simple and a complex. The simple answer is trial and error. The complex answer is as follow:
First you need to figure out what your BMR is…I am going to use myself as an example.
This morning I weight 171 lbs exactly.
So today my BMR (which stands for Basal Metobolic Rate..basically the number of calories your body will burn if you were to lay in bed all day) is 1,756.03…so now I have my baseline. But now we need to figure in activity level. There is a formula that is commonly used called the Harris Benedict Formula. There are 5 criteria:
- Sedentary (Little or no exercise) you multiply your BMR by 1.2
- Then we have Lightly Active (Light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) you multiply your BMR by 1.375
- Moderatetely Active (Moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) you multiply your BMR by 1.55
- Very Active (Hard exercise/sports 6-7 days/week) you multiply your BMR by 1.725
- Extra Active (Very hard exercise/sports and physical job or 2x training) you multiply your BMR by 1.9
So first you need to figure out where you are at on the scale. Quick note, I am in the very active category but I will almost always calculate for the Moderatetely Active scale. So I take my BMR which is 1,756.03 and multiply by 1.55 and I get 2,721.85. This is my Daily Caloric Need.
Now we need to figure out what I need for Carbs, Fats and Proteins…A “common” rule of thumb is to set your percentages at 50% for carb calories, 30% for fats and 20% for proteins. I will tell you up front that this formula does NOT work for me. I need far more carbs than 50%….I am normally in the 65 to 70% range but lets use the 50/30/20 formula anyways.
Lets do carbs first. So if I need 50% of my daily calories from carbs I take the 2,721.85 calories and simply divide by 2. I get 1,360.93. This doesn’t tell me much because all the carbs we eat are measured in grams. So we need to know that there are 4 calories per gram of carbs. Now we need to do a little more math. Take the 1,360.93 and divide by 4 and we get basically 340 grams of carbs. So now, when you are eating through out the day, this is the number you want to get too.
Now on to fats. It is done the exact same way. 2,721.85 calories multiplied by .30 and I get 816.56 calories. Now fats have more calories per gram. 9 in fact. Now to figure out how many grams of fats I need I take the 816..56 and divide that number by 9 and I get basically 91 grams of fats.
On to proteins. Again, take the 2,721.85 calories and multiply by .20 and you get 544.37. A gram of protein has 4 calories just like a gram of carbs. So take the 544.37 and divide by 4 and you get 136 grams of proteins.
Using the 50/30/20 split I need the following
1,360 calories or 340 grams of carbs everyday
817 calories or 91 grams of fats everyday
544 calories or 136 grams of protein everyday
So that is all there is to it. This is actually quite easy once you get the hang of it and there are a wealth of online tools that will help figure out all the numbers for you. You stay on this plan for a while and see what it does. Depending on what your goals are these numbers may be to high or to low. It really all depends. And in the end it all goes back to trial and error. Remember that when your weight changes, so will your numbers.