Hypertrophy Basics

Setting Calories & Macros

Valentin Tambosi
Hypertrophy Basics


We’ll start with something I see people mess up all the time: setting your caloric and macronutrient intake based on your goal. 

When you’re finished reading this email you’ll know how to do exactly that. It’ll be simple and straightforward. All you need is your phone’s calculator. It literally will take you less than 2 minutes what other people spend way more time on. Or no time at all, which hurts their progress in the long run. Knowing how much energy (food) you put in your body is crucial. Tracking your intake is never going to be perfectly accurate down to the last gram, but it will give you valuable information about how your body reacts to a certain amount of calories and macronutrients. Track your intake by using a tracking app like MyFitnessPal. There are others out there but I recommend this one because it’s food database is gigantic. 

Before we get to it, keep the following things in mind:

Your body is a dynamic system that’s constantly changing based on its surroundings, your stress level, activity, hormone levels and numerous other variables. 

Setting your calories and macros is not a one-time deal.

You will have to adjust the numbers over time. I will also teach you how to do that in a way that causes you no headache and allows you to effortlessly “play” with your intake based on what you see on the scale, in the mirror, and in the gym. This email course does not allow me to address every little detail of everything, but to ensure you understand how we set up calories always remember: past the beginner level it is very hard to build muscle and burn fat at the same time. Certainly possible but everything has to be on the money. To simplify the entire process we’ll work with 2 possible outcome scenarios when we set up our calories/macros: Fat Loss OR Muscle Gain How do I know if I should focus on muscle gain or fat loss? Excellent question. This mainly depends on your current bodyfat level. Measuring bodyfat is really tricky and most methods are highly inaccurate. Therefore, I will give you a simple “take a look in the mirror” guideline. Do you see a clear outline of your abs? Now don’t go and look for the best lighting and perfect angle for 2 hours. Be honest. Take off your shirt and take a look at yourself. To make this a lot easier for you take a look at my client Daniel. If your abs look like his in the right picture, it’s time to gain some muscle. If your midsection looks like his in the left picture, it’s time to lose some fat. If you want to lose fat you need to be in a calorie deficit. That means you burn more energy through training, walking your dog or other activity than you consume through food over the course of the day. If you want to gain muscle you need to be in a calorie surplus (most of you anyway). That means you consume more energy than you burn over the course of the day. 

How To Set Your Calories

  • If your goal is to lose fat, set your calories as follows: 11-13 calories per pound of bodyweight Example: You weigh 170lbs and want to lose fat. I recommend going with the higher end of the range to start you on as many calories as possible. Weighing 170lbs you’d consume 2,210 calories per day (170 x 13). 
  • If your goal is to build muscle, set your calories as follows: 16-18 calories per pound of bodyweight. Example: You weigh 170lbs and want to gain muscle. I recommend going with the lower end of the range to ensure you’re not gaining too much fat right off the bat. Weighing 170lbs you’d consume 3,200 calories per day (170 x 16). 

That’s it for calories! What did I tell you? Simple and straightforward. Next up: macros. 

How To Set Your Macros

For the entire upcoming section, we’ll assume the goal is to lose fat! 

Protein (4 calories per gram)

We’ll set protein at 1g per pound of bodyweight. This is independent of your goal. You’ll consume 1g/pound bodyweight regardless if you want to lose fat or build muscle. 

Example: You weigh 170lbs. Your daily protein intake will be 170 grams of protein. Stick with mostly lean meats and dairy products (that includes whey protein). 

Fat (9 calories per gram)

Based on your preference of fats or carbs, we’ll set daily fat intake at 15-30% of your total calories. If you prefer fats, go towards the higher end of the range. If you prefer carbs, go towards the lower end of the fat intake range. There is no right or wrong here as long as you stay within the range. 

Example: You weigh 170lbs and prefer fats. You set your daily fat intake at 30% of your total calories (which was 2,210 calories per day). That equals 663 calories of fat. Stick with various nut butters, olive oil, macadamia oil, nuts, dairy products for most of your fat intake. Fats from meat, fish and eggs are by no means “bad” but keep them to roughly 1/3 of your overall fat intake.

Carbohydrates (4 calories per gram)

We’ve set protein and fat intake. Now all we have to do is fill up the remainder of calories with carbohydrates. 

So far we have: Protein at 170 grams (170 x 4 = 680 calories) Fat at 30% of 2,210 calories = 663 calories / 9 calories per gram = 74 grams Carbs: 2,210 - 680 (protein) - 663 (fat) = 867 calories / 4 calories per gram = 217 grams There you go. 

If you’re weighing 170 pounds and your goal is to lose fat, you’d consume Protein 170grams | Carbs 217 grams | Fat 74 grams for a total of 2214 calories. I rounded the carb and fat values, so that’s where those extra 4 calories come from. Don’t stress over minutiae like that. 4 calories are laughable and won’t make a difference whatsoever. For your carbohydrate sources, you have a wide variety of foods to select from. For satiety, boiled white potatoes are pretty much unbeatable. Fruits like watermelons, oranges, berries and apples are great too. Generally, I won’t tell you that specific carbs are better than others, even those high in sugar. For healthy, active individuals it is safe to say that “a carb is a carb” meaning there is little difference between for example rice and candy when it comes to the effects on body composition. 

You now have a solid foundation to work with. 

Protein, carbs, and fats are all set. You know your daily calorie intake and how those numbers came together. 

Consume 30-50 grams of fiber each day and you’re off to a better start than 90% of the people you see every week in the gym. To get to those 30-50 grams of fiber you’ll have to consume 3-4 servings of fruits and vegetables ever day. 

Should you adjust calories on non-training days?

For the sake of keeping everything simple and straightforward, my answer is no. Eat the same amount every day. This helps with adherence and consistency.

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