What are macros? A celebrity PT explains the eating trend with healthy recipes

Confused about macros? Healthista enlists the help of David Kingsbury, an online and celebrity personal trainer, who explains why they are essential for reaching weight goals with example recipes

The idea of weighing your food may seem daunting (and on face value, restrictive and boring). But in fact, fitness junkies claim counting macronutrients (macros) is easier than people believe and even leaves room for the occasional treat without impacting on results and leaving you feeling guilty. If you’ve been struggling to lose or gain weight whilst dieting and getting nowhere, it may be the kind of calories you are consuming, not simply the amount. There are three groups of macronutrients that we require in balance to feed a healthy body: carbs for energy, fats to keep you full and protein to repair and build muscle.

Macros - the best kept secret of PTs explained plus healthy recipes

How the body uses energy from food

Let’s start with the basics, first. ‘Weight change has one primary influence – energy balance. Energy balance determines whether you gain, maintain or lose weight and is based on your calorie intake versus your calorie expenditure’, says David Kingsbury, a PT to film stars with a huge online community following #TeamKingsbury. ‘If your calorie intake and absorption is greater than your expenditure then you gain weight. If your calorie intake and absorption is equal to your expenditure then you maintain weight. If your calorie intake and absorption is less than your expenditure then you lose weight. If your body has more energy than it needs, it stores some of what is left over as fat.’ Essentially, if you eat a lot but move a little, you’re in trouble.

We burn calories in four different ways:

  • Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): These are the calories your body burns to keep you alive. Everyone has a slightly different basal metabolic rate, which is dependent on your weight, muscle mass and genetics.
  • Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT): These are the calories you burn by moving around, but not through deliberate exercise. If you are generally active, always on your feet, or fidget a lot, you will burn a lot of calories this way.
  • Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (EAT): The calories burned through deliberate exercise, like running, cycling and swimming. The more you do, the more calories you burn.
  • Thermic Effect of Food (TEF): The energy your body uses to process the food you eat. The less processed food you eat, the more work your body has to do to digest it.

Unfortunately, what might work for one person may not work for another. ‘Even two men at the same age, height, weight, activity, levels and eating the same foods will burn and absorb different amounts of energy’, says David. ‘Age, height, weight, gender and amount of activity will vary someone’s calorie needs, but there are others often overlooked such as whether someone has crash dieted before or if they’ve gained and then lost weight’.

How to use macronutrients to fuel your body

Dieting can give great results. But it has also means restriction, misery and yo-yo dieting, as well as the demonization of certain food groups such as carbohydrates. Eating for your macros is according to its followers a more flexible lifestyle to follow once you get the hang of it, as long as you hit your personal numbers.

A basic macro rule for a healthy person is 40 per cent carbs, 30 per cent protein and 30 per cent fat

Considering each food group is used by the body in different ways, your macro-split will depend on your desired goal as well as personal variables. A (very) basic over rule for a healthy person might be 40 per cent carbs, 30 per cent protein and 30 per cent fat. But this may become a 40-40-20 split for someone needing energy for hours in the gym whilst training to gain muscle.

What’s more, ‘different macros provide different levels of energy per gram’, says David, who has 12 years experience in the fitness world. ‘1 gram of carbs = 4 calories. 1 gram of protein = 4 calories. 1 gram of fat = 9 calories. 1 gram of alcohol = 7 calories’. If your macro-split used more fats, such as avocados, nuts and oily fish, you would have to eat less because fats are more calorific per gram. This can explain why ‘healthy fats’ can lead to weight gain if not eaten in moderation.

How you can start counting macros

Macros-the-best-kept-secret-of-PTs-explained-david-kingsbury-by-healthista.com

As much as we’d like to give you a simple equation, David says calories and macros can’t just be ‘dished out’ as though one size fits all. Even within each goal, David says ‘there are many variables. There is research that shows how certain macro breakdowns can be more effective for certain goals. But each goal comes with a range of macro balances that can be used and you can use a different one every day’. Right…

‘It is both a calculation and manual process, it is science and also a judgment of experience’, says the PT. However, the ab-tastic bicep builders of Instagram are claiming re-education of food with macros will provide a realistic diet you can follow for life.

Online tools can help get you started, such as My Fitness Pal which lists foods with macronutrients ratings and Fitocracy Macros. Healthista loves BetterSelf, the online subscription service from David Kingsbury.  On sign up, you are asked for your current weight and measurements, how many hours of exercise you do and your goal. Following this, you are given a custom calorie meal plan with optimised macros – the counting is done for you and you just need to make the recipes (and there are hundreds to choose from).There are also 40 amazing training guides. that come ion PDF form to choose from (they’re Healthista Editor Anna Magee’s new obsession).

Still confused? Here are three case studies and examples of meals they may eat.

4 Healthy recipes for weight loss

Example: Female

Age – 29 years old

Height – 158cms

Weight – 72kg

Waist measurement- 32 inches

Current hour of exercise per week – 3 hours

Goal hours of exercise per week – 4 hours

Goal calories – 1700

‘In order to achieve the goal of fat loss they are going to move up to four hours of exercise per week’, says David. ‘The calories have been calculated based on the new exercise level and the goal of weight loss, meaning a calorie deficit is needed. Therefore this woman would be consuming 1700 calories a day (466 calorie meals x 3 + 300 calorie snack)’.

Breakfast – One pot cooked breakfast

macros-for-weight-loss-Macros-how-to-use-them-with-EASY-recipes-david-kingsbury-by-healthista.com

 

Ingredients

White mushrooms – 168g

Eggs chicken whole – 2medium

Spinach – 65g

Olive oil – 1tsp

Sliced ham – 126g

Tomatoes – 103g

Onions – 47g

Potato with skin – 77g

Method

Cube the potato and microwave for 5 mins. Slice the onion then fry in olive oil adding potato. Slice the mushrooms, add to the pan and fry for a further 5 mins, then add the ham. Add the spinach and tomatoes. Finish by cracking the eggs in the pan together, fry for 3 minutes to cook, then serve.

Lunch – Chicken and cashew stir fry

macros-for-weight-loss-Macros-how-to-use-them-with-EASY-recipes-david-kingsbury-by-healthista.com

Ingredients

Chicken breast – 149g

Red onion – 98g

Red pepper/capsicum – 75g

Green beans – 70g

Soy sauce reduced salt/sodium – 2tbsp

Cashew nuts – 31g

Red chilli – to taste

Basil fresh – 5g

Ginger fresh – 5g

Coconut oil – 1tbsp

Garlic cloves – 1clove

Method

Slice onion and fry in coconut oil until it starts to golden. Add chopped garlic, chilli and chicken and fry for a further 5 minutes. Slice pepper and green beans, add to pan with soy sauce and fry for a further 5 minutes. Add cashew nuts and continue to fry for 2 minutes. Lastly, grate in ginger and heat through for 1 minute before serving with fresh basil.

Dinner – Chicken and squash tray bake

chicken and squash tray bake, macros for weight loss, Macros - how to use them with EASY recipes, david kingsbury, by healthista

Ingredients

Flaked almonds – 9g

Cauliflower – 79g

Garlic cloves – 1

Chicken Breast – 173g

Lemon juice – 1 tsp

Olive oil – 1 tbsp

Red onion – 28g

Paprika – 1 tsp

Red pepper – 84g

Butternut squash – 168g

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Chop all the ingredients and place in a baking tray. Mix the olive oil, lemon juice and paprika and pour over the ingredients. Mix it together. Place the tray in the oven for 20 – 25 mins until cooked. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds and enjoy.

Snack – Chocolate orange protein bars

Macros - how to use them with EASY recipes, weight maitenance, david kingsbury, by healthista.com55

Ingredients

Whey protein powder – 140g

Coconut (desiccated) – 85g

Dark chocolate – 22g

Marmalade – 1tsp

Milk semi-skimmed – 1tbsp

Method

Combine the whey protein, coconut flakes and marmalade in a bowl. Add a tiny bit of milk and mix everything through with your hands, add a little bit more milk and continue to mix everything until the consistency resembles bread dough. You don’t want to add too much liquid or you won’t be able to shape the bars. Once you have the desired thickness, shape the mixture into several bars and place them on a plate that has been covered with grease-proof paper. When you’re trying to shape the bars, wet your hands with water first as this stops the mixture sticking to your hands. Once you’ve shaped your bars, heat up the dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed in a pan of boiling water then coat the protein bars with the melted chocolate. Pop them into the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up. This recipe makes 4 bars at 300kCal

4 healthy recipes for weight maintenance

Example: Female

Age – 29 years old

Height – 158cms

Weight – 72kg

Waist measurement- 32 inches

Hours of exercise per week – 4 hours

Goal calories – 2000

‘If our case study wanted to maintain weight then calories are calculated by balancing your energy expenditure with the number of calories consumed’, David explains. ‘You could eat exactly the same recipes shown for fat loss just scaled up slightly to deliver the extra calories you need. Alternatively, you could reduce activity to have the same effect, but I would suggest trying to keep a base level of exercise for health reasons.

‘With maintaining weight as a goal, you potentially have some extra flexibility with the balance of your macros as fat loss isn’t the primary goal. This means you can bring in more energy from carbs as a percentage of total energy if you want to.’

Breakfast – Raspberry and blueberry pancakes

Macros - how to use them with EASY recipes, weight maitenance, david kingsbury, by healthista.com

Ingredients

Bananas – 79g

Blueberries – 23g

Creme fraiche half fat – 51g

Eggs – 2 large

Milk semi-skimmed – 68ml

Olive oil light spray fry – 2 sprays

Raspberries – 34g

Vanilla Protein – 45g

Method

Take half the berries and the cream fraiche and put to one side. Put all the other ingredients in a blender and blitz. Heat a pan and add mix into pancakes size portions. Stack the pancakes top who the berries and creme fraiche.

Lunch- Tuna on cannellini beans with mushrooms

Macros - how to use them with EASY recipes, weight maitenance, david kingsbury, by healthista.com

Ingredients

Tuna Steak – 204g

Cannellini beans canned – 160g

Garlic puree – 2.5 tsp

Mushrooms – 79g

Olive Oil – 2 tsp

Red Onion – 34g

Parsley – 4g

Butter – 1.5 tsp

Method

Grill the steak in a griddle pan or frying pan until cooked how you like, place to one side to rest. Place garlic in the meat juices and fry the mushrooms, add the beans and mix until hot. Finally add the butter to the mix, add the parsley and season to taste. Slice the steak and place on the top and enjoy.

Dinner – Mediterranean cod bake

Macros - how to use them with EASY recipes, weight maitenance, david kingsbury, by healthista.com

Ingredients

Tinned chick peas – 68g

Feta – 40g

Cod Fillet – 204g

Garlic – 1 clove

Kalamata Olives – 17g

Lemon juice fresh – 1 tsp

Oil olive – 2.5 tsp

Parsley fresh – chopped

Peas – 113g

Red Pepper – 51g

Method

Take a large square of tin foil and preheat the oven to °C Mix the chick peas, feta, peas, olives and peppers together an d place on the tin foil Place the cod on top with the chopped garlic, parsley and add lemon juice. Season and wrap the foil to parcel Cook for 15 – 20 mins and enjoy

Snack – Kiwi mojito smoothie

Macros - how to use them with EASY recipes, weight maitenance, david kingsbury, by healthista.com

Ingredients

Almond Milk unsweetened – 120 ml

Kiwi fruit – 90 g

Banana – 60 g

Pea protein isolate – 29 g

Honey – 1 tbsp

Fresh lime juice – 1 tbsp

Fresh mint – 1 handful

Chia seeds – 1 tsp

Method

Blend all ingredients together. Note: if preparing in advance, blend all ingredients except the chia seeds, then stir the seeds in at the end and leave to soak overnight.

Healthy recipes for weight gain

Female

Age – 29 years old

Height – 158cms

Weight – 72kg

Waist measurement- 32 inches

Hours of exercise per week – 4 hours

Goal calories – 2400

‘If our case study wanted to build muscle then I would put her on a calorie surplus in the region of 10-20 per cent increase. Foods would be very similar but quantities and would vary’, says David. ‘Carbohydrates are a useful fuel for training energy, so for these reasons including carbs around resistance training time specifically can help you boost muscle faster.’

Breakfast – Rye toast with peanut butter, banana and whey shake

Macros - how to use them with EASY recipes, weight maitenance, david kingsbury, by healthista.com

Ingredients

Peanut butter – 33g

Vanilla or peanut butter whey protein powder – 60g

Unsweetened almond milk – 67ml

Rye Bread – 71g

Banana – 67g

Method

Toast the rye bread, and then spread the peanut butter over the top. Blend the rest of the ingredients together to make the shake. Add water as required.

Lunch – Seared tuna with rice and sesame seeds 

Macros - how to use them with EASY recipes, weight maitenance, david kingsbury, by healthista.com

Ingredients

Tuna steak – 184g

Rapeseed oil – 2tsp

Sesame seeds – 2.5tsp

Rice – 153g

Wasabi paste – 2tsp

Plain, unsalted peanuts – 11g

Method

Cook the rice as per pack instructions. Sear the tuna for 1-2 minutes on each side or to desired doneness in the oil. Coat in the sesame seeds once cooked. Crush the peanuts and stir into the soba noodles with the wasabi paste.

Dinner – Satay chicken bowl

Macros - how to use them with EASY recipes, weight maitenance, david kingsbury, by healthista.com55

Ingredients

Broccoli – 67g

Chicken Breast – 173g

Coconut milk – 2.5 tbsp

Soba Noodles – 67g

Peanut butter wholegrain – 1.5 tbsp

Red Chilli Fresh – to taste

Green Pepper – 48g

Spring onions – 13g

Sweet chilli sauce – 1.5 tbsp

Method

Chop all the ingredients ready, and slice the chicken ready. Heat the wok add one tsp of olive oil. Put a pan on with simmering water. Add the chicken and cook for 8 mins. Add the broccoli cook for a further 2 mins. Add all the other vegetables, chilli and cook until tender. Place the noodles into the boiling water cook until done. Add the coconut milk, peanut butter and sweet chilli until piping hot. Place the noodles in the bottom of the bowl and serve with the stir fry.

Snack – Chocolate orange protein bars

Macros - how to use them with EASY recipes, weight maitenance, david kingsbury, by healthista.com55

Ingredients

Oat flour (fine) – 125g

Whey protein powder – 110g

Marmalade – 4tsp

Chocolate dark 45-59% – 22g

Milk semi- skimmed – 3tsp

Method

Combine the oat flour, whey protein and marmalade in a bowl. Add a tiny bit of milk and mix everything through with your hands, add a little bit more milk and continue to mix everything until the consistency resembles a bread dough. You don’t want to add to much liquid or you won’t be able to shape the bars. Once you have the desired thickness, shape the mixture into several bars and place them on a plate that has been covered with grease-proof paper.

When you’re trying to shape the bars, wet your hands with water first as this stops the mixture sticking to your hands. Once you’ve shaped your bars, heat up the dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed in a pan of boiling water then coat the protein bars with the melted chocolate. Pop them into the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up. This recipe makes 4 bars at 300kCal

David Kingsbury headshot, how to lose weight David Kingsbury, by healthista.comDavid Kingsbury has been a qualified personal trainer since the age of 17. With a long list of celebrity clients, David has a great reputation with Hugh Jackman who has previously stated that David is the best trainer he has ever worked with. Alongside working with A-Listers he creates 12 week customised workout & nutrition plans, as well as offering a BetterSelf subscription which includes hundreds of recipes calculated for personal goals and more than 40 training plans.

 

READ MORE

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20 best fitness tips EVER from a celebrity trainer

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