Let’s face it, when you lift heavy and often, you eat heavy and often. It’s just part of the game. Sometimes, no matter how disciplined you are, you just want to have a snack. We all get tired of sitting down to a plate of chicken or tuna with a green vegetable and half a sweet potato. Other times you’re in a huge rush and don’t have the time to sit down for a meal.
What Are Macronutrients?
Of course each individual’s macro breakdown is going to be different depending on your body type, goals, and whether you’re cutting, bulking, or maintaining. If you’re just starting, it’s best to start with one of the suggestions below and tweak as you discover your body’s nutritional needs.
Macronutrients are the three major components of food, consisting of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. When you come across foods that are expressed in macro values, it’s generally written as such: carbs/protein/fat. Some people swap carbs and protein in their ratios, so be sure that you’re clear when you’re looking for advice from others!
When you’re reading nutritional labels, remember that you can eat just about anything you want, so long as it fits into your macro breakdown. Does that mean you should go out and have a Pop Tart and eat boiled chicken for the rest of the day? Well, I would hope not. But if you’re sticking to your macros, you have considerable freedom in your food choices.
If you’re looking for a clean bulk without adding too much fat, 40/40/20 works well for many people. For maintenance, 50/30/20 is pretty easy to maintain for most omnivores.
Cutting is a different beast. If you’re carb sensitive (as I am), you’ll want to go pretty low, keeping carbs to 20% or less of your total intake. It generally makes people crabby and tired, if not outright mean. If you have no carb issues, 30% carbs is probably fine for you, keeping your ratio somewhere around 30/50/20.
If you know your body type, you can refine further before even beginning a program. Most people don’t fit cleanly into any of the three categories, but have tendencies toward a type. For example, I’m an endo-meso. When I’m lifting heavy at least four days per week, I can pack on some good muscle mass. When I let my lifting slide a bit, I pack on the pounds like Elvis in the late years.
Ectomorphs (also known as “hard gainers”) who have always been slim will probably want to eat a higher proportion of both protein and fat, with a ratio around 30/40/30.
Mesomorphs are more likely to have slower metabolisms even when exercising heavily and tend to gain weight easily. This type benefits from greater protein and less fat in the diet, with an ideal ratio around 45/40/15.
I’d be willing to bet there aren’t too many true endomorphs reading this article, because you’re already rock solid and made of muscle. I’m jealous of the fact that you look like a superhero and can still eat burgers and fries. You’ll want to focus on eating good, clean foods. You can probably get away with 50/30/20, even in a cutting phase.
1. One ounce of cheese and one ounce of almonds, preferably raw. An ounce of Swiss cheese contains seven grams of protein, zero carbs, and seven grams of fat. Swiss is lower in sodium that many other cheeses, which is a big benefit when you’re hoping to look as chiseled as possible. You’re also getting a great deal of phosphorus and calcium along with a respectable amount of zinc.
You want raw almonds for a couple of reasons. First, cheese is salty, and we all know what salt does to muscle definition. You don’t want to look bloated when you’re working so hard! Plus, raw almonds retain the enzyme activity that will help your digestive system break down all of that protein you’re shoving down your throat.
This is a pretty big snack in terms of fat, but rest assured that you’re getting some good nutrition. With 260 calories, 6 grams of carbs, 13 grams of protein, and 21 grams of fat, your macro breakdown is 10/20/70. If you’re in a low-carb phase, this snack is perfect for you.
2. Onion dip and raw veggies. When you’re absolutely craving junk food, like potato chips and onion dip, hold off! There’s a better way (and frankly, there are few things less healthy than dip from the store).
Toss one carton of fat-free cottage cheese into a blender and process until smooth. Add one package of Knorr Onion Dip Mix, and one package of frozen spinach, thawed. You may also blanche fresh spinach, if you prefer. Mix and eat with carrots, celery, and cauliflower florets.
This recipe will yield two cups of dip, which should easily last you four to eight snacking sessions. The dip has a great macro breakdown, with 31 grams of carbs, 66 grams of protein, and 1 gram of fat and 315 total calories, coming in at 40/60/00.
Remember, you’ll want to divide this recipe, plus compensate for whatever veg you eat with it. You may also use cottage cheese that has fat to balance your ratios if you have different goals.
1. Chocolate and Peanut Butter Smoothie. If you like those chocolate and peanut butter cups, you’ll probably love this smoothie. The difference is that you’re getting high-quality nutrition instead of refined sugar and wax.
For chocolate protein, I prefer Nutribiotic because it’s unsweetened. That gives you the freedom to choose how you want to sweeten, which is nice depending on what diet phase you’re in.
For two tablespoons protein powder, two tablespoons natural peanut butter, 1/2 c. fat-free cottage cheese, and water/ice cubes to desired texture, you’ve got a 390 calorie smoothie. I’d use stevia to sweeten, but if you use other sweeteners, be sure to account for those calories. As listed, this smoothie has 15 grams of carbs, 48 grams of protein, and 16 grams of fat for a breakdown of 15/50/35.
2. Greek yogurt with Walnuts and Berries. Undoubtedly one of my favorite things to eat day or night, this snack is super filling and super fast. I keep single serving plain Greek yogurt in the fridge almost all of the time, usually 2%. It’s high in protein but smooth and creamy.
Fat equals flavor, and the bit of fat that’s in this yogurt allows you to experience more flavor without adding too much sugar. If you’d rather not use honey, you may substitute stevia or other sweetener of your choice!
One 7 oz. container of 2% Greek yogurt, 1 tbsp. honey, 1/4 c. raspberries (I like to mash them so they’re stirred throughout the yogurt), and half an ounce of walnuts is delicious and simple, with 295 calories. You’re sitting at 40/30/30, which is perfect for a clean bulk.
The best part? All four of these snacks are extremely portable and easy to have any time of day. If you’re going to a party, take the dip and veggies along to save yourself from dodging the landmines that are the rest of the party’s offerings. Forewarned is forearmed!
If you have a favorite snack, be sure to let me know what it is, along with the macro breakdown!