To setup your calorie intake and macro-nutrient guidelines for your Flexible Diet plan you need to first determine your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) to establish you estimated caloric baseline. Your TDEE will give you a good estimate of how many calories a day you must consume to achieve a neutral caloric balance, which will maintain your current weight and fuel your current lifestyle. Also, download the MyFitnessPal app for iPhone or Android so you can track your macros.
The multiplier is a far simpler way to calculate your caloric baseline compared to other, more complex metabolic equations. You simply take your current weight in pounds and multiply it by your lifestyle multiplier.
Determining Your Lifestyle Multiplier
This is the part that most everyone overcomplicates. There is absolutely no need to have an anxiety attack over this part. I am going to lay it out for you as simply as possible. Your lifestyle multiplier is going to take into account your training, your job, and your overall level of activity. When you look at these numbers, be honest and realistic with yourself. Rather than choosing the best-case scenario, choose a number that will allow consistency. Accuracy in your choice will yield the best results. Before selecting your multiplier, you need to know that this number is not set in stone… it will change as your training does, it may change if you get a new job, it may change if you get injured, so on.
11: Appropriate for individuals who are virtually sedentary. You may be sedentary for a variety of reasons: a lack of interest or desire to work out, or maybe you’re recovering from surgery or a prolonged illness, or a sports-related injury. If you don’t partake in strenuous activity at all during the week, you will fall into this category. A lot of grad students tend to get stuck in this category (don’t worry, smarty pants. An advanced degree is worth the time).
12: Appropriate for individuals who train less than 5 hours a week. If you make it to the gym a few times a week and train no longer than an hour, you will most likely fall into this category. This multiplier is ideal is for the moderately active person.
13: Appropriate for individuals who train 5-10 hours a week. Most people will fall into this (or the previous) category. You go to the gym during the week for a little over an hour a day and remain relatively active on the weekends.
Calculating & Optimizing Your Macros
Second to calorie balance, macronutrients are the next important component for optimizing flexible dieting. There is one more thing that I want to make very clear before we start calculating macros. The numbers you are about to come up with are simply an estimate, the purpose of which is to give you an approximate starting point. This will suffice to get you started, but you may find that you need to make some tweaks and adjustments to really dial this in.
First, convert your body weight from pounds to kilograms. This is very easy to do with the calculator on your smartphone.
Divide your body weight by 2.2 to get your weight in kilos: body weight in pounds ÷ 2.2 = body weight in kilograms
Protein is calculated first as it is the superior macronutrient. Protein supports muscle growth, thus is takes precedent. We want 2g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. Take your weight in kilos and multiply it by 2 to determine how many grams of protein you should consume a day. Each gram of protein is going to be responsible for 4 calories of your total daily caloric intake.
body weight in kilograms x 2 = grams of protein per day grams of protein per day x 4 (cals/gram) = daily calories from protein
Fat is calculated second as it makes calculating your carbs easier by doing it in this order. This a major yet necessary change from the first book but it in no way indicates any form of “macro hierarchy”. Is is only for the sake of simplicity. Your body weight in kilos is roughly equal to the number of fat grams you should be consuming a day, so 1g per kilogram of bodyweight will do. Each gram of fat is going to be responsible for 9 calories of your total caloric intake.
body weight in kilograms = grams of fat per day grams of fat per day x 9 (cals/gram) = daily calories from fat
Carbs are calculated last because they are the trickiest to calculate, not, and most people’s initial estimate are too low. By forcing you to determine protein and fat first, you are left with x amount of calories to be met with carbs. (Don’t worry, this calculation isn’t set in stone, we will optimize and adjust in a few paragraphs). Each gram of carbohydrate is going to be responsible for 4 calories of your total caloric intake. This is where you have to do a bit more math than has been previously required.
total daily calories -(calories from fat + calories from protein) = calories from carbs calories from carbs ÷ 4(cals/gram) = grams of carbs per day
Now you have the three numbers that comprise your daily macro profile. There is no need to count calories. Understand that by hitting these numbers, you are hitting your calories. When you have these numbers calculated, I will go over your fitness goals to determine what your calorie deficit or surplus will be depending on whether your goal is to lose fat or gain muscle.