Question:

Hi, I was wondering on how to select the correct macro grams for my diet.
I am a member of team Canada world baton team and train for the sport 4 days a week for about 5 hours. I also attend weekly yoga classes and do cardio workouts 3x a week along with some basic weight training 3x a week. I am 24 years old, 5 foot 6 inches, 160 lbs. and eat between 1,500-1,800 calories.
Thank you

– Lindsay B.

Answer:

You are undereating calories compared to your estimated energy needs* given your age, anthropometrics and stated workout routine making your first priority to meet minimum recommended protein amounts.

Based on your stated level of exercise, protein requirements will fall in the range of 1.2-1.5gm/kg, which calculates to 87-110 grams of protein per day (<26% energy intake). However, because you’re possibly not meeting energy needs with adequate carbohydrate and fat, it’s safe to increase protein to 2.0gm/kg daily.

Carbohydrate should comprise about 50-60% of your energy intake. For your stated caloric consumption, that would calculate to 225 grams carbohydrate daily (1800 x 0.5 ÷ 4cals/gm). Remember, that is a baseline amount given my suspicion that your energy intake is low.

A healthy fat intake may range from 20-35% of energy consumed. If we take the average of your recommended protein plus the carbohydrate total above, that’s 1292 calories (323gms x 4cals/gm) leaving you with 508 calories for fat. Those 56 fat grams should be from healthy unsaturated sources, preferably plant foods like avocado, oils and coconut.

* Energy needs calculated from Harris-Benedict or IOM equations are 2600-2800 calories per day.

Resources:

  • Kerksick, CM and Kulovitz, M. (2013) Requirements of Energy, Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats for Athletes. In Nutrition and Enhanced Sport Performance Chapter 36, (pp. 355-366).

  • Webb D. Athletes and Protein Intake. Today’s Dietitian June 2014; 16 (6): 22.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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