How to simplify macro counting for your diet

Andy MorganDiet & Nutrition, Diet Fundamentals404 Comments

Think you need to count calories or macros meticulously?

banana-loaf-and-abs

Purposefully Simplified Macro-Counting Rules for Long-Term Success

The reason that this diet system is so effective for fat loss & muscle growth is because we count macronutrients (macros): Protein, Carbohydrates and Fat.  We’re not doing a simple calorie restriction diet where you can eat anything as long as you eat less calories than you burn. This can be a fast way to lose muscle also.

Yes, you could call this a more detailed way of counting calories, which you would think makes it more complicated, right? Well, not exactly. We can vastly simplify the counting of the macros using a few simple rules.

You have a couple of options for hitting your macros in this diet,

  1. Hit your macronutrient targets exactly and calculate everything. (Not recommended.)
  2. Hit your macronutrient targets roughly using some simplified rules. (Good idea.)

The former will be very difficult to sustain in the long-term. You will perhaps achieve the body you want temporarily, some day, you may crack and it’ll all fall apart. I know there are many of you out there that have OCD and will try this anyway. But I just want to let you know that you don’t have to.

The latter will give you stress-free success in the short-term and enable you to keep your physique in the long-term.

If you can make it simple and have success on the simplified system you can continue it in the long term. If you start counting the calories and get anal then you will lose in the long term and it is all pointless.

Simplified Rules

What follows is a small part of the “macros and simplified rules” mail that I create for all clients. While the full article is for clients is around 3000 words I think looking at the ideas presented here you should be able to get a good idea for yourself to help you create your own.

Do not be fooled by these simplified rules. Excluding athletes, and in-season bodybuilder clients whom require a great deal more attention when shredding the last 2%, these rules have given the majority of clients the success they were looking for, yet with a much more relaxed approach in the kitchen. I recommend you make your life easy and follow some kind of simplified rules, even if they are not my own.

  • 100g of Raw Meat/Fish is 20g of protein. (A conservative number.)
  • Green vegetables don’t have any carbs. – Eat plenty to slow digestion.
  • 140g of un-cooked Rice/Pasta is 100g of carbs.
  • Sauces do have carbs/fat but aren’t generally worth counting. Count the number of spoons of sauce you use (don’t go mayo crazy here) and keep it consistent.
  • Cook your food for the fastest results.
  • Use a small electronic kitchen scale to weigh the meat/fish/pasta/rice. It takes seconds and you will become very good at guessing weights within 2 months. This is a skill that will help you for the rest of your life, especially in restaurant eating*. (*More tips on this later.)

So using these rules, if you had to eat 50% of your daily macros after a workout, and they were 100g of protein, 200g of carbs, & keep it ‘low’ fat. That could be as simple as eating 500g of chicken on 280g of rice, with green veggies and a couple of spoons of BBQ sauce. -That’s just a simple example from a lazy cook, the variety is as wide as your imagination though really.

Rules for Eating Out or One-Off Meals

When you stray from the simple meat/fish & rice/pasta & green veg. meal combinations, don’t stress, just try these rules.

  • When eating out in restaurants keep it simple
    • If it’s a Training-Day then eat lots of carbs with lean meat and vegetables and try to keep it low fat.
    • If it’s a Rest-Day then eat lots of vegetables, skip the carbs and go with fattier cuts of meat.
  • Anything you eat regularly, even fruit, is worth counting. You only have to do it once. Write down the macros and put them up in your kitchen. Here’s a good nutritional calculator.
  • Similarly, eat the same meals often. This way you only have to calculate the macros once.
  • When you eat something that’s not on your regular* meal plans (*meaning a meal you’ve already calculated the macros for) and will not be eaten regularly, it’s ok to guess the macros. In time you will get pretty good at this.
  • Unless you eat a lot of fruit, don’t bother to count it against your carb number.

Last point

I made these ‘rules’ to simplify things, however there is no escaping the science. I know there are people that will look at rules and abuse them in whatever way they can Remember you’re only screwing yourself by doing this. 

  • Don’t be the client that ate ‘unlimited salad because it has no carbs’ yet smothered it in mayonnaise for two months and blame me for no progress. (A true and frustrating story).
  • Don’t be the man that abused the alcohol guide to justify drinking everyday and then wonder why things are moving so slowly.

I am not knocking calculating & weighing all food exactly (or trying to). However these rules may be just the thing you need to simplify your diet plan. If it works, it works! End of story.

Thanks for reading and Good luck!

Andy MorganHow to simplify macro counting for your diet

404 Comments on “How to simplify macro counting for your diet”

  1. J Soto

    Great info!!! I just started with the 16/8 IF the only question I have is on the time I can do it which is eating from 8am to 4 pm then fasting after that. Is this ok? My work schedule is 9-7 and I workout at 6:15 am till around 7:30 then I breakfast at 8am. Thank you in advance!!!

    1. Andy Morgan

      Summary of the evidence is that there is no need to worry, unless you’re eating a lot of processed shit like MacDonalds as the bulk of your meat intake.

  2. Kierran Clarke

    HI Andy,

    I have rested over the weekend, and due to go back to the gym today but not going to be able too, and may not be able to tomorrow either so it could be i will have 4 rest days in a row….

    Shall i just stick to my rest day macros?

  3. Ryan

    Everyone seems to be on the IIFYM campaign but we can’t follow it blindly. I’m pretty sure I could eat chocolate bars and whey protein shakes and make it fit my macros but thats unhealthy and even if i hit my protein target i really doubt I’m going to build muscle (pretty neat to see someone try) Anyway my daily calc. for my lean bulk is 3010 calories and I try to go with 40/40/20. For the past week I’ve been doing to the 3 day split with RPT. Awesome articles and I’m already seeing results and I was one of those ‘advanced’ lifters that had plateaued and spent the last 6 months ‘exercising’ and not training.. and more likely over training doing 4-5 day splits. So big thanks to you Andy for the amazing articles that have brought the focus back to my training. I do have a diet question however. I am lean bulking right now and I have been pretty bang on for the last week with getting 3010 calories and all from lean meats, veggies and good carbs. My problem is my Tennis days. Tennis burns a crazy amount of calories. I track everything in my myfitnesspal app and it tells me that 90 minutes of tennis is 968 calories burned. i play twice a week 90-120 minutes. There is almost no way I can honestly make up that calorie deficit on ‘good food’. I would have to eat ~4300 calories…. I’ve finally made it to my question: What do you think of on tennis days so I can hit my macros the impact of stopping at burger king etc. right after tennis to have a burger/fry combo of 1000 calories to offset what i’ve just burnt so I can continue with my reg. diet and hit my 3010 cal. target? I’m bulking and shooting for 1/2 – 1lb a week and in the gym M/W/F doing RPT training guide.

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Ryan.
      Not eating to your energy requirements is more unhealthy than making up a portion of your diet from foods that you perceive to be ‘unclean’ in order to help you reach those requirements.
      Good guest article for you would be, here.
      I think your app there has vastly overestimated the amount of extra calories you’re burning from the tennis by the way. Track your weight consistently over a few weeks and you’ll see.

      1. Ryan

        Another fantastic article man. I thought I knew quite a bit and then I come here and its full of great fresh perspective. I agree with what JC had to say for the most part. I personally would not blindly go all in with the example that he used of the ice cream, brownies, bbq pork and white bread IIFYM. I would love to see the study of a side by side with that diet hitting all macros on one lean/fit guy and then another that hit all macro targets on whole foods, veggies, lean meats, quinoa, brown rice etc. There is just no way in my opinion… can’t get my head around that. Anyway quick question if you don’t mind. I structure my bulk as 40(P)/40(C)/20(F) on training days. In all the articles I’m reading on diet you say protein requirement is 1 g per lb of body mass or slightly more – so I have to eat 180 grams a day(aprox). With 40% of 3010 calories I’ve been eating over 200 grams of protein a day just to try and hit my target which 40% is very difficult as i’m usually around 33-35% on my pie chart in the app. The same would apply to your sample cut diet… so when would you ever have to worry about your protein and making sure you get 1g per pound? because if you didn’t you would never be close to meeting your macros regardless. I don’t get it, technically I should be hitting 301 grams of protein a day… Also what does your fee structure look like in terms of the online training you offer? If you could email that me I would be interested. Thanks.

        1. Andy Morgan

          Hi Ryan, thanks for the question.
          “I don’t get it, technically I should be hitting 301 grams of protein a day… “
          ‘Technically’ meaning by some rule you have read elsewhere.

          The problem you have is that you’re trying to combine and apply multiple sets of guidelines that conflict with one another. – You can’t combine a rule like ‘set protein at 1g per per pound of body mass’ with another rule like ‘set protein at 40% of calories, carbs at 40% of calories, and fats at 20% of calories’ because the maths won’t work. (Neither of which are my rules/suggestions by the way.)

          For a framework that I’d advise you use to set up your nutrition see the series, The Nutritional Hierarchy of Importance (for Fat Loss & Muscle Growth) – Overview. It’s long, so be prepared to read.
          Information on the online coaching I offer can be found here.

          1. Ryan

            Sorry Andy, I wasn’t being clear. By technically I meant if I follow the 40/40/20 split 40% of my target energy of 3010 calories per day it equates to ~300 grams of protein which as in the article you recommended is over and above what the body can use and not what I think is necessary at all – I was just scrunching up my face trying to figure out why another article or suggestion would be 40% from protein if its such a high and unusable amount. For easy math sake (and i’ll quote you correctly this time) in your article for a bulk it states 1g per lb. For fat it states 20-30% of my daily target. That leaves an absolute ton of carbs to fill in the remaining amount. So to be clear your reccomendation along with martins etc. is (I will use myself as the example) 180g of protein per day. 20-30% of fat and carbs equaling the rest. That is a recipe for a lean bulk with caveat being I calculated my macro requirement correctly..?
            Lets use yesterdays numbers as an example. I ate 227 Grams of protein. 69 grams of fat and 356 grams of carbs. It was a training day (deadlifts, weighted chins). Those macros totaled 2,923 calories. My percentage split ended up being 31% from protein. 21% from fat. 48% from carbs. Am I on the right track?? All the above is from whole and “clean” foods (heavy quotes on clean as per your article).. the only supplement being vegessential all in one and harmonized whey.

            1. Andy Morgan

              “I was just scrunching up my face trying to figure out why another article or suggestion would be 40% from protein if its such a high and unusable amount.”
              Likely because they have used a lower calorie intake as an assumption initially. And I would bet that the ratio was reverse engineered after the macro intakes had been set by more concrete recommendations based on weight (or better, lean body mass).

              I am not a fan of the ratio method, it simply isn’t very logical.

              Metabolism is adaptive. Calorie needs increase over time when bulking and decrease over time when cutting. Protein needs to be set (largely) according to lean body mass, and fat (to an extent) too. Ratios are therefore a function of the stage of dieting, not something to target.

              You can’t look at someone’s calorie intake, their physique, conclude that it worked well for them thus that is golden ratio. But this is something I see done online and discussed often.

  4. Kierran Clarke

    Hi Andy,

    I am looking at buying some protein powder to make macro friendly pancakes etc… Do you recommend using Casein or Whey, or is this something you are unfamiliar with?

      1. Kierran Clarke

        Thanks Andy, not heard of that rule before. Easy to remember though. Got any recommendations or links for protein cake recipes etc…?

          1. Kierran Clarke

            I do, haven’t even touched a protein shake as yet. Just curious and would like to make one as a macro friendly treat at some point.

  5. Julie

    HI! Great info! Just wondering though, how come it is stated that greens don’t have carbs? Shouldn’t green veggies like spinach and kale be counted toward your daily carbs?

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Julie. Some food that are green have such little energy bioavailability that is makes them not worth counting. See the section in the FAQ on fibre, and then check out the link to Lyle McDonald’s article there.

  6. D smith

    Hello!
    I’m looking to get toned. My workout regimen is really good. On Sun and Thurs I work on my lower body. Monday and Friday I workout my upper body. Rest in Wednesday and I perform HIIT on Tuesday and LISS on Sat. I think my issue is diet. I don’t think I’m eating enough or very little of the right portions on my macros. Does this work for women? And to break it down even further should I just eat more protein and alternate my carbs and fat on the days I’m doing lite and heavy workouts?
    Thank you

  7. Fran

    Hi Andy

    Don’t know if you would know the answer to this.

    When tracking/counting fat macros with regards to fattier cuts of meat on rest days, are the macro numbers on packaging including the big rind of fat on the side of the cut of meat, like a sirloin or gammon steak?

    I never eat fat on the sides of cuts of meat, would this mean that I am including fat macros in my allocation that I am not consuming by not eat big strips of fat?

      1. Fran

        No problem Andy thanks anyway.

        Just a thought that popped into my head last night as I cut off a big strip of fat from my dinner lol

  8. enat3

    Andy,

    As a previous client, You mentioned that fruits count – but reading this post you say only count fruit if you eat a lot of fruit? “A lot” is a pretty subjective, could you possibly clarify which is it? Should I count medium sized fruits or not?

    -Nathaniel

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Nathaniel. Information in any mails that I have sent out must always take precedence over articles on the site. Especially ones years old like this, as there will be conflicts.

  9. Chris Seah

    Hi Andy,

    With regards to simplified macro counting, you say eat as much vegetables as you want. This is really effective in keeping me satiated on low carb days but it seems to be causing a little bloating and constipation (pellet like stools) which you have mentioned. I take about 400-600g of cauliflower a day.

    Also, in your email you mentioned that potatoes have about 15-20g carbs but there are lots of different sweet potatoes, copper skin w/ orange flesh or purple skin w/ yellow flesh or even purple skin w/ purple flesh which all taste alot different. However there doesnt seem to be much information about the carb count in the different sweet potatoes.Some day 25g some day 20g and all that makes alot of difference if I eat up to a kilo of em on high carb days.How should I count them?

    Thanks

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Chris.
      “Unlimited vegetables” within the context of the fibre guidelines. That explains your bloating.
      The ones that are near 20, count as 20. The types that are nearer 25, count as 25. You only have to look it up once and then make a simple memo on a piece of paper.

      1. Chris Seah

        Hi Andy,
        It is mentioned that the maximum amount of fiber is 20% of total carb intake, which means only 10g of fibre on low carb days?
        Also I know that you said do not count protein in carb source but if 2 slices of bread has 20g carbs and 5g protein, it seems quite significant so should I count it?
        Thanks

        1. Andy Morgan

          Hi Chris.
          1. Good question. The 20% rule you read in the FAQ applies to training days, and diet methodologies where the carb intake doesn’t fluctuate.
          2. Up to you, doesn’t matter, as long as you keep it consistent.

          1. Chris Seah

            Hi Andy, so how much fibre should I take since those rules do not apply to our carb cycling programme?

            1. Andy Morgan

              25g ideally, though it can be less if you don’t have any problems with shitting. Don’t forget, my advice is to not worry about counting unless you actually have an issue with your bowel movements.

            2. Chris Seah

              Hey Andy,
              We don’t count vegetables against our carb numbers but do we count them against our protein or fat numbers?
              Also just a lifestyle Qn, how do u keep your food fresh if you cook em at 6am and are supposed to have them at 7pm outside? That’s like 13 hours of stale food in a container and I don’t have a microwave where I study.

              Thanks

            3. Andy Morgan

              Hi Chris. The fat/protein in vegetables isn’t going to add up to anything significant so we’ll ignore it. Please refer to that very detailed set of rules I gave you in the macros mail and try not to overcomplicate things bud. Seriously. Consistency is key, which again, is written in that mail. – See the detailed FAQ section, specifically “Should I could the macros in ‘X’?
              Anything cooked food can be eaten cold. It won’t go stale inside a 13 hour period.

  10. Chris

    Hi Andy! My girlfriend and I are trying out some of your great advice! We’re getting into week 2 of our cut. I’m wondering about the effect of green vegetables. You say, “◾Green vegetables don’t have any carbs. – Eat plenty to slow digestion.” What is the benefit of slowing digestion?

  11. msginetz

    Hi Andy,

    Sorry if you answered this question somewhere and I missed it. I know you said it’s better to hit your macros roughly, but I was wondering:

    If you are under in one area and over in another does it balance out (ex. under by 10 in carbs, over by 10 in protein)?

    Just trying to understand this as best I can before I begin.

    Thanks!

    Karrie

  12. Antongiulio

    Hi Andy,

    I’m doing the 3-day RPT training and i wonder one thing about diet:
    I calculated my bmr, which is 2000 kcals. Then multiplied for 1.375>>> 2750 kcals.
    I think i’m around 15% bf (first pair of abs visible, second pair softly visible), and my aim is to cut and be more ripped. According to this, i’m supposed to assume 3000kcal on training days (almost 10% plus) and 1800 on rest days (almost 30% less). Am I right or missing something?

    Thank you SO much. Your blog is awesome.

    p.s.: I just applied for your coaching and I’m really excited, but i was wondering..how much do you cost? :D

  13. Neil

    Hi, Mr. Andy

    I would like to know if a whole roasted chicken is enough to cover my current protein requirements

    The are two sizes for the whole roasted chicken I buy at a restaurant

    1.25 kg (cooked weight) – according to the weighing scale, around 25% is bone weight. That leaves around 900 grams of meat and skin

    1 kg (cooked weight) – according to the weighing scale, around 20% is bone weight. That leaves around 800 grams of meat and skin

    Do you know the estimated protein content and fat content of those ?

    I’m 5’10″, currently weighs at 176 lbs and around 25% body fat

    Thanks

  14. Zygo

    Hi Andy.

    I’m on cut at the moment. What is your advice for person who workingout two days per week? How does macro counting on training days and rest days?
    What is your opinion regarding cortisone blockers whether it makes sense supplementation or not?

    1. Andy Morgan

      Please ask me questions either here in the comments or on the Facebook page, but not both. I answered earlier on the Facebook page, but I wasted 5 minutes just trying to figure out why this question was so familiar given that I thought I had answered it.

  15. Trevor

    Hey Andy,

    Question about Simplified Macro Counting if you will; I really want to use your simplified rules for counting but I am confused. If I plug 500gr of Chicken Breast and 285gr of Rice into an online calculator for example, (Fitday, Fat Secret) I get crazy high calorie counts that wont fit my Macro calculations set out above in your guide. You do say that your 20gr of protein per 100gr of meat is conservative but where do I go from here? I am working on a Cut at -35 + 10, but with the need for 172gr of protein would call for 850gr of Chicken Breast (simplified rules) but the online calculator calls that 1600+ calories, 65+gr of fat, and 250+gr of protein. But, at your calculation of 4kcal per gram of protein the same 850gr of Chicken to reach 170gr of protein only yeilds 680 calories. Any thoughts.

    1. Andy Morgan

      You’re probably looking at cooked chicken there rather then raw. Also, the fat content will vary depending on the cooking method.
      Please feel free to make your own simplified rules Trevor based on any amounts you’ve seen in a calculator, that’s the idea behind them.

  16. Josh

    Is it necessary to count trace protein/carbs in veggies and carb sources towards your macros?

  17. jasonvj

    Hello Andy,

    I am a regular visitor to your blog.

    I have read all of your articles. I dont think i have missed any :)..

    Anyway i wanted to ask you something about the IF i started 6 months ago.

    My Training has been Advanced Cross-Fit For Over 1 year but the last 2 months i have moved to thailand(Previously Lived in Greece) and i am training at home. I have followed your advice and stoped doing cardio and HITT training and concentrating on weight lifting more . Also i have dedicated 1 day a week only to ab workout with weights.

    My Diet is this:

    I do I.F. so i eat everyday at 6-10. So i fast 20 hours. Only Balck Coffee and Tons of Water 2-3 liters.

    Everyday i eat chicken breast around 400-500g, greek salad and omelete from 4 whole eggs and 100g ham.

    The only thing i change is instead of chicken i eat pork or i eat 250g of chicken and i add 1-2 cans of tuna with some mayo.

    My problem is that the first 4 months of doing this i was starting to take fat off, now i have come to a point that i see nothing happening for the last 3 months.

    As you can see i dont consume any carbs as i thought that the salad would count as carbs.

    I would really appreciate your advice as i want to get ripped and my six pack to come out.

    Thank you very very much for all the good advice you already have on your blog.

    Anticipating to hear from you soon…

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Jason,
      It may be that you’re experiencing a recomp effect and it’s just your tracking system is lacking so you don’t realise the changes you are making. Guide to tracking here.
      Or it could be that you need to adjust your macros – reasons and guide in the menus under the banner.

      1. jasonvj

        Hi again andy,

        Do you think i should add carbs to my diet?

        As i wrote above i dont eat any carbs i only eat salad as carbs.

        Thanks

  18. Fabian Mertens

    thx andy for those great tips. is there a way to buy the whole list, because i`m working with the lean gains concept for a while now and would like to add your tips to my protocole.
    cheers from germany

  19. graham

    Andy, your rules 100% make things easier.
    with xmas coming up and over the horizon, I’m finding it hard to to keep on this diet.

    eating out at pubs/ general resturants is generally easy, sticking to salads, vegetables, meat etc on rest days.

    however my low carb days are mon/wed/fr/sunday and at 40g of carbs, unfortunatey work nights are on these days and we are booked in italian and indian on 2 seperate days

    do I just keep to the routine 90% of the time and may flip training days for xmas?

    just wondering your thoughts

    cheers mate

    g

      1. graham

        cheers Mate, cracking T shirt by the way ;). I’m going to be knocking on your soon for a client setup, making progress in weights. thanks.

  20. MC

    Wow. Awesome article, Andy! I follow almost the same principle in counting my calorie intake. I have a list of food and their protein and carb counterparts so I just mix and match everything to break the food monotony.

    Would you my mind checking though if my current meal plan is effective?
    I am on 1200 calorie consumption everyday divided into 5 small meals taken every 3 hours. (I normally start munching around 6AM everyday and everything follows every 3 hours)
    30g protein and 30g carbs.

    And FYI, Gym time 3x a week, 1 hour every session.

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Christian. My first piece of advice is to follow the plan as written, start with The Step by Step Guide. No point in coming to me doing something completely different (high meal frequency, very low calories) and then asking me to critique it.

  21. Nathan

    Andy,

    Fell ill for the first time since I began my training, and I’m wondering how this should affect my macros. Although I knocked out a workout this week, at this point I’m fatigued with a sore throat, achey, experiencing headhaches and the like and it might be best to take a few days away from the gym (1 or 2 sessions, I’d estimate). In this case, should I eat in accordance with my rest days at a deficit? Or should I eat at maintenance?

    From my reading it seems that I should not be at a deficit, for my body needs all it can get nutrient wise to recover, but perhaps with IF it’s different? I’m not sure, so I figured I’d go ahead and ask. Thanks for your help.

    1. Andy Morgan

      Sounds like you’re sick Nathan. Take time off the gym till you feel better. Consider a diet break or eating “average macros” until then.

  22. andy jones

    Hi there just starting the ripped body diet!!

    Im 280lbs 33% bodyfat ive worked out my rest day macros using the very helpfull guide, am i rite in thinking because im classed as obese will this calorie deficit be ok for both days training and rest????

    got my calories to 1800 thats with the 30% calorie deficit 200g protein 80g fat 70g carbs

    40% protein 40% fat 20% carbs!!!!! Roughly

    Thanks and look forward to your response

    ANDY JONES

    1. Andy Morgan

      Andy, thanks for the comment. Unless you’ve very tall and also have considerable training experience it’s highly unlikely that at 280lbs you’re only 33% body fat. Perhaps reconsider. As per the macros post comment in red, I’m not going to do the calculations for you or comment on them though.

  23. Thomas

    Hey Andy,

    So I started the IF program exactly 2 weeks ago and I’m losing weight at an abnormal rate. I started at 215 and to this day I’m 200. Am I doing something with my diet?

    1. Andy Morgan

      Unless you are really hungry (indicating the extreme deficit you would need to have that as fat loss alone) it’r probably mostly water weight loss. Continue for another two weeks and see.

  24. SASA

    Andy, thanks for your work! Something has come to mind- calories for cooked food. Ie: if I want 80g of rice (i’m working on recipes once off to make menus so that I can pick from) that roughly equates 375 calories, but is that 80g raw because I would actually weigh the food once cooked? I don’t want to overthink it with calorie counting but some assistance would be great! Thanks!

  25. Fabrizio Esposito

    Hi Andy

    Many thanks for this site. It’s brilliant and helped me a lot. Especially when finding out that how I intuitively wanted to diet perfectly fits the things you’re talking about…it’s actually a relief to know that we can rely on that inner voice. I couldn’t find an answer to the following two questions which seem rather important to me – perhpas I also overlooked it, so apologies where due:
    i) How do you manage your cortisone levels when dieting, if you don’t spike your insulin in the morning? Or do you find that it’s ok to use a protein shake in the morning on an empty stomach and that’s it (the morning being the most crucial part, as we want to prolong that fasted state)? Because even only a few grams of protein will influence you GH levels, so I’m not sure how the drawbacks compare to the advantages. From what I’ve seen, it’s not really an issue to take the shake.
    ii) What do you think of taking a spoon of coconut oil as an energy booster, no matter on what day (either carb on or off)? It seems to me that using coconut oil as an energy source could turn out to be less problematic for my diet than any other snack with carbs (no insulin peak, stable release into my bloodstream, high percentage of MCT). And it’s still very nice to eat:-).

    Thanks a lot for you time!
    Best,
    Fabrizio

    1. eggiovanni

      Hey Fabrizio,

      I’m lookin forward to Andy’s answer as well, but I find what works for me is to have Coconut Oil in the morning. From my understanding Fats are processed in a way that maintain most of the benefits of fasting.
      In my experience when I started having protein in the morning my progress slowed down; just fats (Coconut Oil and MCT Oil in tea or coffee) has been great and I’m back to just about linear progress.

      1. Fabrizio Esposito

        Hi

        Sounds intriguing! Thanks for the advice. I just came across an article today saying that micellar casein won’t spike your insulin as whey does. So this might be another way of fasting in the morning without compromising! (The more I look into micellar casein, the more I find it to be superior to whey. Yes, it won’t boost protein synthesis right away, but over a period of e.g. 8 hours, there’s no drawback…)

        1. eggiovanni

          Casein and Whey are both great proteins and have their uses, but remember we were talking about the effects of Proteins versus Fats on fasting. Technically anything you put in your mouth is breaking your fast, but what I was telling you is when I added Protein in the morning I noticed a slow down in my Progress. Fats are metabolized through a different process and when I used just fats, my progress continued well.
          I would get used to not having anything before your feeding window, but if you have to have something – just fats (Coconut Oil, MCT Oil).

    2. Andy Morgan

      Fabrizio, thanks for the comment, glad you’re finding the guides helpful.
      i) I don’t seek specifically to manage cortisol, or try and directly manipulate any hormones.
      ii) Completely unnecessary. This idea is sparked from your trying to avoid an insulin spike and thus not interrupt the fast… or something like that right? If you need a temporary energy boost, drink a coffee. If your energy levels are always low then increase calories or swap out food items to see what you may do better on.

      I think you’d find the article, “If it ain’t broken…” helpful.

      1. Fabrizio Esposito

        i) ok, so I’ll definitely won’t vex myself with that anymore.
        ii) Indeed, that was the idea behind. But I see your point, one should just focus more on doing and see what works rather then on fiddling around with theoretical concepts.

        Again, thanks a lot!

        Oh, by the way: Ever thought of putting a “donate” button on your page? I feel rather odd posting here and not being able to make amends for your counseling.

  26. Pingback: When is Cardio a Valid Tool for Fat Loss with Intermittent Fasting? | RippedBody.jp

  27. Mike DD

    Hey Andy. I normally buy my meats from a farm, grass fed style. I know the macros vary. Would you use the bodybuilding.com site and just assume its the same as regular beef or is there another site which offers better info on macros and calories with respect to grass fed beef. Thanks as always.

    1. Andy Morgan

      In the context of a well balanced diet grass-fed beef has little benefit other than taste. So buy it only if you can afford it and buy it only based on your like of the taste (or animal sympathy). In terms of macronutrients then they’ll be the same cut for cut. There are several calculators out there, if in doubt then take an average.

  28. Sergio

    What are green vegetables? Why not vegetables in general (excluding starchy ones), like tomatoes, onions, eggplant, etc.?

  29. zane Al abbydin

    Hey Andy, just a thought regarding diet breaks:
    Lyle McDonald recommends increasing carbohydrates to at least 100-150g per day whilst increasing total caloric intake to 10% under current maintenance ( to account for metabolic slow down).
    My question is this; what is your approach to the diet break? Do you endorse a strategic increase of macros to minimise body fat gains? On the other hand, do you advise a complete break, I.e: no tracking of macros.
    Kind regards, Zane.

    1. Andy Morgan

      The latter, but it’s not to be taken as a binge.
      I’ve got an 8 point FAQ on this for clients, but understandably I’m not going to post that here.

  30. Giovanni

    What’s up Andy,

    Thanks in advance for your answer to my question and all of the other info I’ve gotten from your site.
    As far as Fat Grams in our Macro breakdown: I understand it’s important to watch Fat intake on Training Days, and from what I’ve read on Martin’s site it’s because that day is High in Carbs and any excess calories maybe directly stored as fat.
    My question is if I am still within a caloric deficit is it okay to up fats a little bit. For example if it’s a Training Day and I have say 500 calories left to eat is it okay to have those calories in whatever form I want (Fat, Carbs or Proteins), or is their a science behind staying under my Fat Macros for that day?
    Your answer may allow me to enjoy a little more :).
    Cheers Mate and Best Regards

      1. eggiovanni

        Thanks for the reply Andy, but it missed my point.
        I read your post before I asked the question, because I really dont want to be one of those that asks questions already answered.
        The post assumes that I have a calorie surplus on training days; although, I don’t.
        I am on -10% on Training Days and -30% on Rest Days (Is that wrong by the way or extreme, because you assumed I was surplusing?).

        So if I am on a Training Day and have say 500 Calories left before I hit my TDEE -10%, can I have those from whichever Macros I prefer (Fat)?

        Cheers

        1. Andy Morgan

          Possibly, but that will depend on the individual (see latest post).
          It is a mistake to rule out carbs as having no value as is fashionable nowadays it seems by certain crowds. They are important for recovery and growth (in the right circumstances).
          Also, read this.

  31. Duncan Wraight

    Hi Andy. I’m 27 now but at the age of 22 I injured my knee. Multiple misdiagnoses, operations and years later, I’ve been playing competitive table tennis for the past 9 months. I play for around 3 hours an evening, 4 evenings per week (plus around 2 hours extra during lunch at work).

    For the first time in my life I look decidedly out of shape. I’ve been starting to diet, then a weightlifting friend recommended your site. However I’m not sure how I’d fit in that amount of table tennis with the IF approach. Each session probably only burns 400 calories or so on average (some evenings, like matchplay or busy days, there’s a lot of sitting around) so it’s nothing like an hour of weightlifting.

    I could probably add a day of weightlifting in to the equation, but I doubt I’d manage two – my weekends are spent away with the girlfriend.

    On a TT day, what ratio of fat/carbs should I opt for? Am I allowing myself enough rest time? I can’t really afford to play less.

    Any advice would be appreciated. Great resource you have here.

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Duncan, glad you’ve found the site helpful. My macros guide is here. I cannot give specific recommendations for macros in the comments. If you can’t afford to play less then whether you are allowing yourself enough recovery time is a redundant question. However, as you are used to playing at that level and for such an amount of time each week you it is unlikely to amount to a buildup of systematic stress so shouldn’t be an issue.

  32. zane Al abbydin

    Dear Andy,
    I hope that you are doing well. I have been feeling weak for a while now with very, very low libido. I perhaps think that this could be chalked up to assuming that 100g of chicken breast is 5g of fat and 20g of protein. Could potential overestimations of fat content in food result in inadequate total fat intake, resulting in lower testosterone level?
    I also feeling really lousy regarding energy (week 11 of the diet at the moment) and my legs were sore for 3 days after squats, not normally sore. Everything else is on point, my life is going very well, perfect sleep, plenty of fibrous veggies with my 2 meals, fruit on my training days. I know I’m getting my micros as I’m taking a multi-vitamin as well.
    Would love to hear your take on my situation
    Kind regards, Zane.

    1. Andy Morgan

      “Could potential overestimations of fat content in food result in inadequate total fat intake, resulting in lower testosterone level?”
      Fat intake is one of the things that affects testosterone, so yes. Sounds like taking a diet break could be a good idea.

      Above is general advice. I do not make decisions without the information at the update for clients as there are too many things to consider so please wait a week.

      1. zane Al abbydin

        Dear Andy, Thank You for the reply. I have no intention of going against the plan that you have already designed for me.

        Kind regards, Zane.

  33. julia

    Hey Andy

    You recently made a change to your fat recommendations. I was wondering how this would play out to “simplified rules”?

    1. Andy Morgan

      Count all the fats you eat for a week. Make sure you’re in the right ballpark and adjust accordingly. Then just be consistent with your meals.

  34. Jake

    Hi Andy,

    I have worked out my macros for both training and rest days and found the training day was fine (P-150g F-50g C-296g), but found changing the carbs for the rest day to meet the total kcals dropped them significantly (P-150g F-70g C-18g).

    Will doing this be detrimental to the cause?

    Also considing that will be breaking up my 2 meals at a 60:40 ration will give me roughly 15g rice/noodles and 10g rice/noodles, is it worth getting such smaller amounts of carbs from another source, as it really isnt work cooking 25g of rice for the day…

  35. LorePe

    Hi Andy!!
    I am currently on the slow bulk and I am enjoying it so much!
    For the first time thanks to your advices I can see clearly cause-effect patterns in my training and stats and I feel completely in control of my bodycomposition which is great!
    I will update you with pics soon… :)
    One quick question:
    Have you got simplified rules for cooking with oil?
    For example -> 5 eggs boiled 25gr fat, 30 gr. proteins
    5 eggs homelet with the pan a little oiled ->30 gr. proteins, fat??

    Thanks
    Lorenzo

  36. Zach

    Hey Andy, was just curious about something in the client guide. It says we dont count fat or protein in bread/pasta/ rice but another portion says “count the fat in everything”. Im just confused so we do or dont count fat. I understand not counting protein but just confused on fat. Another question is i use lavash pita bread a lot and it has 8g protein in a pita which is a lot, do i count this or ignore it? Thanks buddy

    1. Andy Morgan

      1.Count the fat in everything please. Note however that pasta and rice doesn’t really have any significant amount of fat worth worrying about though. Make life easy for yourself and simplify things where possible.
      2. Count or ignore. Note the points on consistency in the macros mail specialist FAQ 12-15.

  37. zane Al abbydin

    Dear Andy,
    Hope you are okay. Just a quick question, I haven’t eaten any fatty meats during the cut at all. I’ve been making up my fats with foods like olives, walnuts, butter, cream cheese etc. HOWEVER, I fancy a change and would like to start eating some mince lamb/beef. I understand the fat content is much higher than chicken breast and it is difficult to estimate the amount of fat in minced meat especially if the product is freshly prepared with no nutritional info on the pack. I can only refer to a nutritional information database. However, my point is, do you advise against the inclusion of fatty meats this far into my cut ( week 6 with you) or should I stick to what I have been doing in the prior weeks instead of changing things around too much?

      1. zane Al abbydin

        Thanks for the reply Andy,
        I’m certainly not bored as I enjoy chicken breast and my training day protein cake (80c/40p/6f) and my protein ice cream ( 25c, 40p, 0f).

    1. Vince

      Hi Andy

      Been cooking full chickens (one everyday) with the skin removed before cooking and i remove all the meat and split it into for my two meals.wondering have you ever cooked a full chicken with the skin of as trying to workout the fat content?.
      Is it a fatty meat cause its not grilled?,what is your guess as my energy is poor and put it down to lack of fats as on training day no added fat just whatever i get from the meat and on rest days i add 8 eggs.

  38. Tom

    Hey Andy, its one week until our 1st scheduled Progress Check. Things are going OK, stomach is finally getting used to the postworkout volume of carbs! Had a quick question. I have been using lean ground beef and turkey (93/7) for my fatty protein sources on nonworkout days. Using your sources provided and simplified macro rules, I estimate 100g raw beef/turkey to be 20g protein and around 8g fat. I used a George Foreman grill to cook my meat, and its obvious that alot of the fat cooks out of the meat. How should I account for this on my macros? keep the same? Estimate a small decrease? Any help would be much appreciated! Thanks man!!!

  39. James L

    Hi Andy! i know you said you dont need to count green veggies but i’m hearing from a lot of people that you should count them because calories are calories. Should i be counting veggies because i tend to eat a lot of it and it can add up.

    1. Andy Morgan

      The point is this:
      If you are consistent with not counting them, it doesn’t matter in the long run as you will have a baseline from which to adjust the other things that you do count. There is no need to know the actual macro numbers that you consume.

  40. Martin

    Hello,

    I am just wondering if someone has any experience with counting macros for frozen chicken breasts. Basically, the breasts are ice-glazed and “enhanced” with up to 15% chicken broth. It’s a lot more convenient for me to weigh these frozen. I assumed about 800 grams of frozen chicken was about 500g of raw chicken. Does these seem like an unreal assumption (under or over-estimate?)

    Thanks,
    -Martin

  41. Zi

    Hey Andy,

    Just wondering how important macro ratios and calorie cycling are in terms of actual muscle gain/ fat loss? I know you advocate cycling calories and macro nutrients on rest and workout days (ie more calories and carbs on workout days, less calories and more fat on rest days), but how important is this if I’m getting the right amount of protein every day?

    Cheers,
    Zi.

  42. Dav

    Hi Andrew, had a couple of weekends pigging out, I need to find a way of sticking to my goals on weekends otherwise im gonna keep on screwing up the week’s progress. These are not easy times but that’s no excuse.

    I came across this website and was wondering if it would be good to use to recalculate my macros in the long run:

    http://www.1percentedge.com/ifcalc/

    I wanted to ask you given that I tried it out and the macros it suggested are different from the ones you had given me so I’m wondering if I should just discard the idea of using it.

    Thanks Andy! :)

    1. Adi

      Dav,

      I think you should go by what Andy suggested you..the website you gave is generic calculator and is good for starting.. but when you hired a coach like Andy, I would say leave the macro stuff to him and just concentrate on hitting the macors. The numbers he gave you are your individualized numbers..

  43. Mike

    I’m very confused by your simplified rule that says “Green veggies don’t have any carbs.”
    Do you literally mean they don’t have any carbs or this is the mentality to take on when calculating macros?
    Thanks

    1. Andy Morgan

      It’s a simplified rule Mike to make counting easier, based on the principle that if you consistently count wrong, (systematic error) you just then adjust from the baseline.

  44. Marc

    Sorry if I was vague. I understand to count fat in everything. I was wondering about counting trace protein and carbs in almonds and other nut butters. I havent been. just been counting fats. Thanks

      1. Marc

        That’s why I love your simplified way of counting things Andy! I have never been so relaxed about “counting” my ratios (and I was someone that used to be a OCD fitocracy nut). It’s all about consistency and making it easy for yourself…longterm results mate…thanks!

  45. Marc

    In simplified macro counting you say “we don’t count trace macros.” Does this go for the carbs in almonds? I.e., do we only count the fats in almonds? Because I have been using almonds/nut butters for my fat sources, and they contain trace carbs, so I just wanted to make sure I have been right by just counting the fat in them. Thanks Progress is coming along nicely.

    1. adi

      I think not counting carbs/protein in almond butter should be alright only if you are consuming 1 or 2 tbsp…If you are consuming like more than 5 tbsp then the carbs might add up..just my opinion..

    2. Andy Morgan

      What you’re reading above is a basic outline of those rules for readers of the site. What you have in your inbox is the extended version of that. Have a good re-read. The answer is that we* (*you and I and the rules under which I have set things for you) are going to count all fats in everything. Note the paragraph on consistency however. Apply this as you see fit within that framework and context.

  46. Ryan Heseltine

    Hey, I am here because a friend told me about this website i wanted to ask a question about rest days, is it ok to eat sausages and bacon EVERY day on a rest day? (If it fits macros) I know you said dont look past fat, but i dont understand the trans/poly stuff – i assumed it was ok to eat 3 sausages and 3 pieces of bacon a day? (on rest days) could you provide any more info and tell me if its something i need to change?

    1. adi

      I think it should be ok if it fits your calories..if cooked at home with good oil, you dont have to worry abt trans fat..animal fat has sat+mono+poly which is a good combo

    2. Andy Morgan

      That’s a loaded question Ryan. In the right context then it’s fine. But I’m not just going to give you a blanket “yes” cause that’s not the case. Keep reading.

      1. Ryan Heseletine

        I don’t really understand what you’ve said.. purely because, I literally eat 3x sausages, 3x bacon 4 times a week on my rest days for my breakfast, I have read everything, but I’m trying to look past the fact its fat and wondering if its TOO much of a wrong fat or something? My point is, is this going to affect me long term and should I reduce the sausages/bacon I eat in your opinion?

      2. Ryan Heseletine

        And all my fat on a rest day comes from, peanut butter, bacon, sausages, eggs (sometimes), and a Almond Nut bar that I eat.

        Sorry for the two responses, couldn’t edit the last, I’m just starting to “worry” now which is why I ask you if you’d advise me changing some of the fats I eat, as it stands with my 4 rest days, I am consuming 12 rashers of bacon and 12 sausages a week..

          1. Ryan Heseltine

            By blood work you mean specifically what? Cholesterol or what? Never had anything like that done in my life so unsure :)

            1. adi

              Ryan, yes – get in touch with your doctor and arrange for blood test and tell him you are looking for chol/triglyc level..he will get that for you..very simple. I get this done every yr as part of my annual for my insurance company

  47. ggirl7

    I have a lot of weight/fat to lose. I’ve been doing IF for the past 10 days or so…and I find that even after fasting 18-22 hours a day, I am not very hungry and I am usually fine by eating 300-500 cals. If i’m hungry, i eat more, but i dont want to force myself to eat. My macros are kinda silly, since it’s so little food and they’ve been about 40% protein-30% carbs-30% fat.
    I do Crossfit with a strenght bias and short 7-12 min metcons, 4-6 times a week. Any advise would be really helpful. thank you

  48. mahou86

    Hi guys,

    A quick question. Been on the leangains for a while now, and for that occasional rest day where I go over my 25C macro, what is the easiest way to counteract it. On rest days i’m eating 25c and 70f, so I figured I can take out of F to balance it, but how much F should I take out if I go over say 10C.

    Thanks,
    Jamie

    1. adi

      Cut 4 gm of fat..but isn’t that too detailed? if you are just 10 C spillover occasionally, that is 40 K cal extra..I do not think that will affect much..I do the same, I am very focused on hitting my calories and I should change myself..

  49. Anthony Wathen

    Hey Andy. I have been on a cyclic carb diet for awhile and am coming from the Warrior Diet to try out Leangains (Simply because my co-workers tend to bring in garbage foods during the day and eating all my food in the evening created temptation during the day). I usually only go over 100g of carbs twice a week (One on the day I have a cheat meal), and it’s mainly paleo (except the legumes and quinoa). How will my progress be different on a 10/35/55 and 15/35/60 ratio? Even on heavy weight days I’ve never gone over 200g. How will progress differ?

  50. michael montgomery

    I train early morning fasted. My first meal is 1:00 2nd at 8:00. I prefer to split my calories 30% first meal 70% second. Is this optimal????

    1. adi

      Michael, I am not Andy, but if I were you, I will have 70% cal at 1 pm and then 30% at 8 pm..maximum calories should come right after the workout (first meal after workout) because thats the time your body can handle high calories with high carbs in them. as the day progresses the tolerance decreases.

      if its a social thing, do atleast 50% in meal 1 and 50% in meal 2??? but I would leave that to Andy..

      1. Andy Morgan

        Adi, thanks for the comment but there is absolutely no need to put 70% of your calories in your first meal of the day for a person doing fasted training. That’s a quick way to send you to kill productivity for an afternoon and sent you into a slumber at your desk. (Fired > divorced > depressed > doctor prescribed drugs… Wait Adi, are you a pharmaceutical company stooge?!)

      1. Michael Montgomery

        I dont like feeling too full while at work. What if add a post workout shake with my lunch to increase macros and calories closer to 50/50 split???

  51. Adi

    Hi Andy,

    Just FYI, I have sent you a request for consultation on 1/13 and I got the automated email reply. I guess I should wait for your next reply and not do anything until then..

    In the mean time I have a question if you can help me out..I eat just 2 meals between 2pm to 10pm
    Meal 1 – 2 pm – 100 gm of protein and rest fat and veggies
    workout at 7 pm – 8 pm
    meal 2 – 8 pm – 100 gm of protein and rest carbs and little fat

    I feel very sleepy after my 2 pm meal of protein and fat (my protein source is grilled chiken or fish). why is it so? am I spiking my insulin so much that I feel lazy and sleepy? is it detrimental to fat loss? what can I do abt it? any ideas?

    I have 5-6 hrs of gap between first meal and workout. do I have to take BCAA before workout? or 100 gm of protein is enough for my 5 hrs gap for amino supply?

    any help/suggestion is greatly appreciated

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Adi. 1. Could be you’re not eating enough on the previous day. Usually it’s carbs that are the culprits for making people sleepy in some cases.
      2. 100g of protein will be fine.

      1. Adi

        Hi Andy, thanks for the reply.. I do stuff my self after workout the day before.
        I am 158 Lbs and after workout I eat 1500 K cal with clean sources of food.
        280 gm of carbs, 100 gm of pro, rest fat..for my small frame do you think 1500 K cal after workout in the night before is not sufficient? If you think answering this is beyond the comment section thats fine..but any insight will be helpful.

        One more think I would like some insight is, I am not progressing on my weights (I understand generally it is tough to progress on weights when you are eating for fat loss) and at the same time I am not losing a great deal of strength too (may be a little bit)..But I do feel like I dont have energy before workout. I am thinking the reason is because I dont eat any carbs before workout (I read that this type of training will force the body to tap into fat stores effectively). am I right? do you think I should continue like this or include some carbs in pre workout meal? thnx buddy

        1. Andy Morgan

          Adi there are too many variables to be considered here mate. I think you’re looking at it from the wrong angle though with your latter point. Likely calorie intake in general, inflated expectations or incorrect programming.

  52. Vince

    So I had a family birthday event for my hardcore Italian grandmother, you can imagine how we like to eat at get togethers :P . It was a rest day last night but my carbs consumed were very high. Today is a workout day. My question is, should I act like nothing happend and continue with my scheduled refeed or cut back some carbs after today’s exercise session. Thanks Andy.

    -Vince

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