Macronutrient Madness: What’s In Your Bucket?

In my last post, I gave you the rundown on how to roughly calculate your maintenance, fat loss and muscle gain calorie levels. This is the most important part of the fat loss puzzle, so if you don’t have that concept down yet, go back and read the Cliffsnotes portion of that article before you go any further.

Alright, before we’re ready to blast off, we need to do some clowning around.

One of my favorite shows to watch when I was lucky enough to catch it on was the Bozo The Clown show. The part of the show that always got me pumped up was the grand prize game. In order to win, the kid simply had to stand in place and successfully throws ping pong balls into a series of buckets that progressively were placed further and further away from him.

Despite being deathly afraid of clowns at the time, Bozo was different, most likely because he gave out cool stuff to kids and I secretly hoped he would reach through the TV screen and break me off a piece of that prize action. Sadly I never got broken off, so I’m here to make sure the same thing never happens to you in regards to your physique goals.


What is the purpose of a bucket? To hold stuff. What kind of stuff? In the infamous words of The Rock, it doesn’t matter – as long as it can fit into the bucket, the bucket can hold it. If you ever sit by the pale moonlight and ponder life’s most vexing question, you’ll quickly realize that your body is just one big ‘ol living, breathing bucket.

There are tall and wide buckets, short and thin buckets and all sorts of variations in between, but the common denominator here is that they all need constant input in the form of food in order to keep running. While all this is nice and dandy, it also makes the task of achieving your ideal body composition a difficult one at times.

Be careful of what you put into that bucket of yours – too much of anything can cause your bucket to grow in ways and places that you want no part of, but put too little of the right things into it and you might as well buy yourself a one-way ticket to Skeletor island.

Plan For Success

I’m a big fan of making things only as complex as they need to be. I do this mainly because, in my own experience, I’ve found that the less variables you have to try and manipulate and figure out, the better it is, at least in terms of initially getting started. Having said that, I’m a big fan of basing your current intake on the weight you’d like to be in the future, which is a method that I first discovered in Alan Aragon’s Research Review (Sexification Note: Do yourself a favor and subscribe here.) I’m a fan of this method for several reasons:

  1. It’s super practical. There are methods out there that use your percentage of lean body mass to determine how much of a certain macronutrient you should take in for your specific goal, but the main drawback of this is that there are people who don’t have access to a fitness professional who can do test such as skin calliper readings. Even if they do have access, the margin of error between certain body composition methods can be so large that it may not even give you much reliable feedback to begin with, especially if you happen to have a lot of fat to lose. You’re also going to have to adjust these numbers based off your results anyway, so don’t spend too much time trying to get too sexy in figuring out your starting point.
  2. It’s easily applicable. Almost everyone has, at the very least, a slight inkling of the body weight that they’re aiming for.
  3. All of the number crunching can be done in less than 2 minutes, and no matter how busy you are, you have that amount of time to do some planning for your success.

Getcho’ Eat On

Protein – The Constant (4 calories per gram)
For men, if your goal is fat loss or muscle gain: 1g/lb of target body weight
Sexification Note: I imagine that women could get away with a bit less protein (.8g/lb of target body weight) due to higher levels of body fat, but when in doubt could always stick with with the 1g/lb recommendation. I’d rather someone get a little too much protein than not enough.

Example: Rog Law has a target body weight of 185, therefore he will have an intake of 185g of protein, which comes out to 740 calories.

Fat – The Greasy Guardian (9 calories per gram)
Both sexes, regardless of your goal: .4-5g/lb of target body weight is a good starting point.

Example: Rog Law has a target body weight of 185lbs, therefore he will have an intake of between 74 and 93g of fat, which comes out to between 666 and 837 calories

Carbohydrate – The Under-appreciated Underdog (4 calories per gram)
Simply subtract the number of fat and protein calories from your fat loss calorie level that you figured out during my last post.  After doing so, divide that number by 4 to figure out the your carbohydrate grams.

Example: Rog Law sits on his butt cheeks all day, so he has calculated his fat loss calories by multiplying his target body weight of 185lbs by 9.

185 x 9 = 1665 kcals
1665 – 666 (fat) – 740 (protein) = 259 kcals
259/4 = 65g carbs

This would be an example of a non-training day. On resistance or interval training days, you can experiment with adding an extra 50-200g of carbohydrates in, mainly around training time. Yep, there is that much individual variability, so let your goals and results dictate how much you add in here.

If you find that you’re putting on the fat too fast, reduce your carbs and fats systematically until you find that sweet spot where you’re seeing that scale creep up, but so quickly that a ton of blubber comes along for the ride. Likewise, if you’re not losing fat as quickly as you’d like to be, you can follow the same progression. Just keep in mind that as your calorie level and carbohydrate intake drop, your protein requirement increases. If you don’t feel like upping your protein, make sure that you get at least 50g of carbohydrates a day, as their protein sparing effect helps protect your lean muscle mass from being gobbled up in the presence reduced carbohydrate intake and a large caloric deficit.

And I’m out like I have 0 hit points left *adjusts nerd glasses*

Questions? Concerns? Death threats? Leave ’em in the comments section below!

Photo Credit: Jeffk

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    • says

      Tis nothing but a jacked suit! Notice how He-Man rolls in nothing but some undies and a sword, while Skeletor has the head of a skeleton, but the body of someone whose jacktitude levels are off the charts – preposterous I say!


  1. […] 2 meals, and on others I eat 3, but regardless of the meal breakdown, my only focus is hitting my macronutrient goals for the day with foods that make my soul smile. #gallery-1 { margin: auto; } #gallery-1 […]

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