On today’s episode of Live Lean TV, I’m showing you how to calculate how many macros to eat per meal based on nutrient timing.
In this post I’m also going to teach you how to figure out how many grams of protein, carbohydrates, and fats you need per meal.
This is the third post of our 3 part series on calculating your calories and setting up your macros for your meal plan.
So it’s important to consume the following video posts in order, starting with these:
After you check out the above posts, and do your calculations, come back and finishing reading this post.
I promise, it’ll make a lot more sense to you.
Now you have asked me how to calculate how many macros to eat per meal, throughout day.
Great question, especially since it was my plan to cover this topic as the third video post in this series.
I’ll be honest.
This strategy on nutrition timing is more advanced than the last two posts.
So let me be clear.
It’s most important to hit your calorie and macro goals.
Hitting your total daily calorie, protein, carbohydrate, and fat goals is more important than hitting them on a per meal basis.
However, to get the best results out of your workouts, it’s important to fuel your body with the right energy requirements for optimal performance and recovery.
Also, from a hormonal standpoint, you’re only as good as your last meal.
If you read my book, Awaken The Abs Within, I go into detail why balancing your hormones is key to Living Lean.
When you eat a high sugar meal with little to no protein, it puts your body in fat storing mode.
This occurs because of the elevated levels of insulin production (your fat storing hormone) being excreted to remove the sugar from your bloodstream.
However, when you add a protein source to this high sugar meal, it helps balance the insulin excretion via the release the hormone glucagon.
Glucagon helps balance insulin in the body, thus helping to keep the body in fat burning mode versus fat storing mode.
This is just one of the many reasons why it’s important to have a protein source with every meal and snack throughout the day.
We’ll talk about this more below.
So lets get into it.
The first step is to decide how many meals and snacks you are going to eat throughout the day.
It doesn’t matter what number of meals you pick.
In Awaken The Abs Within I talked about having 6 meals per day because that’s how many I used to eat.
I would eat 6 small meals every 3 hours.
However, one of the issues I experienced with having a small meal every 3 hours is you’re always eating.
This means you always have to be prepared with the food, which takes a lot of preparation.
If this is not an issue for your lifestyle, feel free to go with 6 small meals a day.
Simply prep your food then plan to eat your meals and snacks every 3 hours throughout the day.
But if you don’t have enough time or don’t want to put in that much effort, pick 4-5 meals per day instead.
Remember, Living Lean is not be about constantly worrying about your next meal.
So if you’re having problems eating 6 meals a day because of meal planning and food portioning, cut it back to 4 bigger meals per day.
The most important part is picking a meal cadence that you can stick to.
Plus, at the end of the day it’s most important to hit your daily calorie and macronutrient goals, regardless of how many meals and snacks you eat.
For this example, we’re going to use 5 meals per day.
We’re also going to use the same calorie and macro goals that we calculated in the last two video posts of this series.
Here’s how to distribute these calorie and macro goals across 5 meals of the day.
Note: you don’t need to be 100% perfect with hitting these calorie and macro goals for every meal.
I’m not 100% perfect with hitting my macro numbers every single day.
If you can’t stick to this, simply think of these numbers as guidelines to aim for rather than beating yourself up.
Try to do the best you can.
Living Lean is about progress not perfection.
Note: for this example, I’ve assumed our workout is in the middle of the day, thus I’ve designated meal #3 as your post workout meal.
Therefore we structure the meal plan and distribute the macros around that post workout meal.
To optimize protein synthesis, it’s important to consume a protein source with every meal and snack.
As mentioned earlier, protein is a hormone balancing macronutrient as it excretes the hormone glucagon.
Glucagon helps balance the production of the fat storing hormone insulin.
Based on these factors, it’s important to consume protein across all meals of the day.
To do this, simply take your daily protein consumption goal that you calculated in this video post and divide it by the number of meals you selected.
Since we choose 5 meals per day, each meal will be allocated 20% of your total daily protein requirement.
There you go.
Based on this example, every one of our 5 meals throughout the day should include approximately 40 grams of protein.
Let’s move on to carbohydrates.
When it comes to carbohydrates, it’s important to allocate and consume these calories around your workout.
So first, select the time of day when you workout.
As I mentioned earlier, in this example we plan on working out in the middle of the day.
Thus, our post workout meal becomes the third meal of the day around lunch time.
For breakfast we have 0 grams of carbohydrates.
When I say 0 grams, I consider green fibrous vegetables as free foods even though they do contain a little bit of carbohydrates.
So load up on non-starchy fibrous vegetables anytime you want.
This meal is comprised strictly of foods high in protein, healthy fat, and low in carbohydrates, such as whole eggs, grass fed beef, and nuts.
This is called the meat and nuts breakfast, which I shared here.
Based on this example, meal #2 is our pre workout meal.
Note: I find carbohydrates make me lazy before my workout, so I personally keep my pre workout carbohydrate consumption low.
However, if you feel carbohydrates provides you with sustained energy, feel free to put 25% of your total carbohydrates in meal #2.
Pre-workout meal (2-3 hours before workout) = 25% of daily carbohydrate goal:
Based on our example, that would be 25 grams of carbohydrates for meal #2.
The post workout meal is when most people need to consume most of your carbohydrates.
After a workout, the carbohydrates from a post workout meal will help shuttle the amino acids from the protein into your muscle cells.
This will help take you out of a catabolic, muscle breakdown mode, and into an anabolic muscle repair and growth mode.
So we’re going to consume 50% of our daily carbohydrates post workout.
Based on this example, this would be 50 grams.
For the meal after our post-workout meal, we will allocate the final 25% of our total daily carbohydrates.
For our last meal of the day, we do not need any carbohydrates in our system.
So we’re going to allocate 0% of carbohydrates to this meal.
To recap, we have 25 grams of carbohydrates before your workout, 50 grams after your workout, then the final 25 grams after your post workout shake.
This means 100% of your carbohydrate consumption comes from 3 meals:
This gives you a total of 100 grams of carbohydrates for the day.
I typically recommend leaving 2-3 hours to digest whole foods before working out.
Of course this isn’t possible if you workout in the morning.
In this case, you can either workout fasted, which works well when your goal is to burn fat.
Or simply make one of these fast early morning pre-workout meals.
Your body requires carbohydrates after a workout, regardless of what time of day it is (unless you are obese).
Even if you workout late at night, that is when you should consume your post workout carbohydrates.
Trust me, during a late night workout, your body will use up the carbohydrates to repair and recover your body, rather than storing them as fat.
Now we’re moving on to dietary fat.
The goal with the timing of fats is to consume them when your meals are lower in carbohydrates.
Fat takes longer to digest, slows the absorption of nutrients, and can feel heavy in your stomach.
Since you want fast absorption of protein and carbohydrates after your workout, you should allocate the majority of your fat consumption away from your workouts.
However, a little bit of fat in your pre workout and post post workout meal is fine.
We’re going high fat in the morning at 40%.
For the pre workout meal, 2-3 hours before the workout, have 10% of fat.
Meal #3 is our post workout meal consumed immediately after your workout.
Based on this, aim to limit the amount of dietary fat.
For the post post workout meal, 1-2 hours after you post workout meal, aim to consume 10% of total fats.
For our last meal of the day we’re going to have the remaining 40% of fats.
Essentially you’re eating the majority of your fats when you are not eating carbohydrates.
Again, this is just a sample of how to set up your meal plan, based on nutrient timing.
Although nutrient timing is important, like I said earlier, it’s more important to first focus on hitting your calorie and your macro goals.
Once you get comfortable with that, then you can focus on sticking to this meal planning strategy to optimize nutrient timing.
This is how to calculate how many macros to eat per meal
But don’t get caught up in trying to be perfect with your meal planning.
It is not the end of the world if you don’t hit your allocated macro numbers per meal.
Just make sure you come close to your daily calorie and macronutrient goals.
So now it’s your turn to calculate how many macros you need to eat per meal.
Once you dial in your nutrition, it is a big step towards Living Lean.
But don’t take my word for it.
In the comment section below, let me know if you have any questions on these calculations.
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Also, you can check out more of our video nutrition tips here.
Finally, check out my top 12 Live Lean Fitness Super Food series to see the exact foods, including the best types of protein, carbohydrates, and fats to add to your grocery list.
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Brad Gouthro is the founder of Live Lean TV, a media company focused on helping men and women “Live Lean” 365 days a year. Brad’s programs and content have helped millions of people all over the world learn how to get in shape, and more importantly, sustain it for life.