Macronutrients – Feed Your Body for Greatness (part 2 of 3)

Macronutrients are the primary components that make up nutritional intake.

  1. Proteins — contain 4 Calories per gram; 25 percent of the Calories are burned during assimilation (digestion); least likely to be stored as fat; contain amino acids (building blocks for tissue); Sources: whey, soy, fish, beef, chicken, dairy, seafood, pork, legumes
  2. Carbohydratescontain 4 Calories per gram; primary energy source; burn nominal amount during assimilation; turn to sugar as energy source at a rate dependent upon glycemic index (GI) rating (how fast it turns to sugar); if over consumed will store as fat; Sources: oatmeal, brown rice, whole grains, multigrain bread (gluten free is best), whole grain or wheat pasta, sweet potatoes (white potatoes only after workout)
    • High GI (Glycemic Index) Carbs: All carbs turn to sugar and the faster it converts the higher the GI. It is beneficial to keep GI mod-low <70 with the exception of after workout recovery. Example GI rates below:
      • Sugar =100
      • White potatoes/breads/rice = 75-90
      • Corn/corn products = 80-95
      • Chips/crackers = 75-90
      • Fruit juice (only drink diluted or small amounts, 4 oz) = 80-100
  1. Fatscontain 9 Calories per gram; depending on type of fat can stimulate or slow metabolism and assimilation rate; deep store energy source; good fats are Omega 3s (fish, flax, nuts) and Omega 6s (vegetable oil, seeds); Sources: Olive or flax seed oil, Nuts, Avocados, Fish oils

Ratios for Macronutrients

When assessing the intake of macronutrients, take into account the athlete’s activity level, lifestyle, expenditure and BMR. Several other factors also play an important role: age, gender, body composition, physical limitations, health issues, hormones, medications, disease and illness.

Percentage of Total Daily Calorie Intake Guidelines (Protein%–Carbs%–Fats %)

  • Endurance: 20%-65%-15%
  • Sprinter/anaerobic: 30%-55%-15%
  • Lean weight lifter: 40%-40%-20%
  • Growth: 35%-45%-20%
  • Weight loss: 45%-40%-15%
  • General fitness: 40%-45%-15%
  • Performance: 40%-45%-15%

These guidelines reflect the percentage of each macronutrient in relation to total daily caloric intake composition. When assessing caloric needs, consider all factors for accuracy. These assessments are approximate and should always be documented, tracked and reassessed for accurate goal orientation.

The numbers can be skewed according to need — generally, tweak carbs and fats, subsidizing calories with protein to avoid lowering overall calories too far and causing metabolic slowdown.

Remember: If macronutrients are not appropriately assessed and allocated, the body does not function properly, which has adverse effects on goals and can cause health issues. Balance is key. A steady, well-balanced diet maintains health and long-term success.

Establishing Caloric Intake

1 lb of body weight = 3500 Calories

The body uses three energy systems:

  1. ATP & CP (quick, 1 to 20 seconds work) — burns adenosine triphosphate & creatine phosphate
  2. Glycogen (30 seconds to 3 minutes work) — burns sugar
  3. Aerobic (20+ minutes, steady state work) — burns fat

Calculating Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

Calories are needed for bodily function. Calories can be adjusted based on individual assessments, physical assessments and goals, including weight loss, gain or extended performance accounting for excess expenditure.

Mifflin Formula

W = weight in kilograms [lbs. divided by 2.2]; H = height in centimeters [inches x 2.54]; A = age

Male: 10W + 6.25H – 5A + 5 = Resting Metabolic Rate

Female: 10W + 6.25H – 5A – 161 = Resting Metabolic Rate

To determine total daily caloric needs to maintain body weight, multiply BMR by the appropriate activity factor, as follows:

  • Sedentary (little or no exercise): Calorie Calculation = BMR x 1.2
  • Lightly active (light exercise or sports 1-3 days/week): Calorie Calculation = BMR x 1.375
  • Moderately active (moderate exercise or sports 3-5 days/week): Calorie Calculation = BMR x 1.55
  • Very active (hard exercise or sports 6-7 days/week): Calorie Calculation = BMR x 1.725
  • Extra active (very hard exercise or sports and physical job): Calorie Calculation = BMR x 1.9

Adjust Calories 300 at a time when establishing weight management. Do not create too drastic of a surplus or deficit to avoid shocking the system and interrupting the body’s adjustment and function process. Establish base lines and adjust accordingly without making too hard of a shift to allow the body to adjust. Additionally, learn what works, how, why and at what pace for the most effective long-term results.


Athletes need to understand how calories affect their body and establish a healthy relationship with food. Eating too few or too many calories, eating infrequently, and eating the wrong foods can adversely affect their performance, body image, and self-esteem. The more information and encouragement coaches can provide in this area will benefit the individual athletes and the team as a whole.

Remember that to maintain balance and avoid cravings, eat frequently, 5-7 times per day, and include all macronutrients while avoiding caffeine and consuming plenty of water.

We are all fallible human beings and creatures of habit and comfort. We all make mistakes and have poor judgment at times. The objective is to be consistent and learn, grow and gain strength — not to focus on perfection.

We hope you look forward to Part 3 “Genetics and Nutrition.”

Note: Participants should always consult their physician or certified/licensed specialist before beginning any nutritional program. The previous information is not a prescription or intended to cure, treat or relieve any problematic symptoms and/or health-related issues. The information was written by a weight management consultant and wellness expert and was influenced and co-written by dietitians and nutritionists.

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