Strength training and muscle building are about much more than just hitting the gym and lifting weights. You also need to consume the right number of calories and strike the ideal balance of macronutrients to meet your goals. Discover why macronutrients are essential for building muscle and find out how tracking macros can help you build strength.
Macronutrients, better known simply as macros, are the basic building blocks in the food you eat and the essential components that your body needs to function. There are three macros in your food: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Although you probably won’t want to consume them in equal ratios, eating a mix of all macros is critical for staying healthy.
In fact, tracking your macros is a great way to combine flexible dieting with serious fitness goals. When you follow a macro-based meal plan, you’ll zero in on a balance of carbs, proteins, and fats that help you perform your best. After determining the number of calories you need to meet your goals, you can use your ideal macro ratio to calculate how much protein, fat, and carbs you should consume each day.
While a macro-based diet is remarkably flexible, following this type of meal plan encourages you to eat whole, unprocessed foods rather than junk food or convenience foods. In place of sugars, starches, and alcohol, you’ll enjoy whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats, which is great news for your overall health.
One of the biggest perks of tracking macros is that you can adjust your numbers to meet a variety of goals. You can use the calculations to customize a plan for losing weight, or you can create a macro diet for improving your strength. If you want to build muscle but you’ve failed to see the desired results after increasing your daily calorie count and hitting the gym nearly every day, tracking your macros can help.
For example, a 35-year-old woman who’s 5.5 feet tall and weighs 150 pounds has a basal metabolic rate (BMR) of about 1,450 calories, which is the minimum number of calories her body needs to function. If she’s active and does an hour of strength training five days per week, her total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) is about 2,400 calories, which is what she’ll need to sustain that level of activity.
If she wants to build muscle, however, she might need to consume extra energy to put on the extra muscle weight. She should start by increasing her daily calorie count by 10 percent, which means she’ll want to start consuming 2,640 calories per day while still maintaining her high level of activity. Then she’ll want to assess the results and see whether the added energy helps her met her fitness goals.
Thinking about a diet in terms of calories alone isn’t always helpful, though. By tracking macros, you can get the right number of calories and the essential nutrients into your diet while still staying on track toward your muscle building goals.
Protein is essential for improving strength, as it helps your muscles rebuild and grow. You’ll want to keep your protein intake high before and after the gym, but you’ll also need a steady supply of protein for other meals throughout the day.
When you want to improve your strength, try for a diet that’s 30 percent protein. Make sure you’re choosing healthy protein sources, such as lean cuts of meat, fatty fish, and eggs.
Although protein is most commonly associated with strength training, that isn’t the only macro you need. Carbs are essential for giving your body energy before and after a workout. You’ll also want to consume them throughout the day to keep your energy levels even.
When you’re building muscle, plan for a diet that’s 40 percent carbs. Rather than pasta and bread, reach for whole grains, leafy greens, and a variety of veggies.
To make sure you’re striking the right macro balance for strength training, you’ll also want to track your fat intake. After all, overdoing it on fat means you aren’t getting enough calories from protein or carbs, which can throw off your fitness goals.
When you’re strength training, you’ll want to aim for a diet that’s 30 percent fat. Try to avoid dairy and instead go for avocados, coconut oil, nuts, and seeds.
Juggling all the numbers, from calorie counts to macro ratios, can get complicated quickly. That’s why using an app for tracking macros is so helpful. With a full-featured app, not only can you model your macro-based eating plan on a recommended diet plan for strength training, but you can also customize your meal plan based on your specific needs. If you find that a slightly higher percentage of protein really helps improve your strength, you can adjust your macros accordingly.
When you track your daily food log in a macro tracking app, you’ll quickly learn where your calories really come from, and you’ll discover healthier ways to get the nutrients you need. With just a quick glance, you’ll also be able to assess how many more calories, fats, proteins, and carbs you need to finish the day successfully.
If you’re adopting a muscle building diet for the first time, you’ll also discover recipes and meal plans that work best with your new diet. Your salads, omelets, and grain bowls may have been on the boring side before. With a macro app, you’ll get all kinds of inspiration for getting creative with your meal plans while getting the right balance of nutrients for your body.
Since you can sync a macro tracking app with your favorite fitness app, you can easily log your workouts, too. That means you can monitor macro intake and energy expenditure in one convenient spot.
Building muscle and taking your strength to the next level are excellent fitness goals for long-term health. By tracking your macros, achieving the right nutrient balance, and fitting in regular workouts, these objectives are completely within your reach.
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