Counting macros has risen in popularity thanks to gym-goers who’ve made it trendy. But what exactly is counting macros? If you’ve come across a food nutrition label, you’ll quickly notice the food breakdown. Despite the fact it was previously only used for commercial purposes, it is now catching up to the public. Counting macros is a good way to understand your nutrition, build muscle and even lose weight.
For many of us, when it comes to nutrition, we only know the basics your plate should always include protein and veggies. That’s all when and good but how much should we eat? Our bodies change as we grow and we have different health and wellness goals and eating healthy just doesn’t cut it. This is where counting macros come in. It helps you feed your body what it needs and in the right amounts depending on your goals. In this article, we will breakdown how to get started on counting macros
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- 1 What are macronutrients
- 2 How to calculate your macros.
- 3 Keeping track of your macros
- 4 Why you should count and track your macros
- 5 Conclusion
What are macronutrients
Macronutrients often shortened to macros are foods that our bodies need in large quantities to function. These are foods such as proteins, fats, and carbs. On the other hand, micronutrients are foods that are our bodies need in smaller quantities. Think vitamins and minerals. How about calories? Calories are basically how much energy your body stands to gain after you eat something.
Often referred to as carbs. Carbohydrates are sugars, fiber, and starch found in foods. When you eat carbs, your body breaks them down into glucose or stores them for later use as glycogen. Carbs provide a quick fuel source for the body. The energy they supply is used by the whole body and especially for energy-intensive organs such as the brain. Fiber present in carbohydrates such as healthy vegetables and root tubers also aids in digestion. Crabs provide you with about 4 calories/ gram. Food sources;
- Fruits such as bananas, apples
- Legumes such as beans, lentils, chickpeas
- whole grains like quinoa, oats brown rice
- Dairy products.
Did you know your hair and nails are made of mostly protein? Protein is the most popular macronutrient due to its good standing reputation for not only aiding weight loss but also aiding in building muscles. Proteins also support important functions in the body such as;
- Growth and developments
- Build and repair tissues
- Coordinate body functions
- Building muscles
- Aids in the production of enzymes and hormones
Despite it’s array of uses in the body, our bodies do not store protein and the excess is stored as fat or excreted. Proteins provide you with 4 calories per gram. Protein-rich foods include: fish, eggs, poultry, tofu, lentils, and protein powders
Contrary to popular belief, fats are good for you and your body needs fat for certain body functions such as;
- Protecting your organs
- Aids in the absorption of nutrients
- Maintaining body temperature
Much of the controversy surrounding fats is because they are highest in calories compared to other macronutrients. Fats provide 9 calories per gram. Foods rich in fats include; avocados, nuts and seeds, cheese, dark chocolate, fatty fish, coconut oil and olive oil.
Read more: Healthy high-fat foods
How to calculate your macros.
Now that we know our macros, foods we should eat daily. It is now time to calculate how much of these foods we should
Step 1: Determine how many calories you need to consume daily
The easiest way to determine how many calories you need per day is with an easy online calculator. It takes less than 3 minutes and you’ll be asked questions about;
- Your age
- current weight
- Goal- do you want to lose weight, gain muscle or maintain your weight
- How active is your day?
- Do you lift weights?
- Do you do cardio?
- Medical issues you might have
- Your current diet
To get accurate information, be as honest as possible in your answers. The results will be sent to your email immediately
Step 2: Now that you know your daily calories, it’s time to break it down
For example, I determined from the calculator above my daily calories should be 2090. Now we divide the calories into the number of carbs, fats, and protein I need to consume daily to meet this number. The standard macronutrient ratio is as follows;
- Carbs: 45–65% of daily calories
- Proteins: 10–35% of daily calories
- Fats: 20–35% of daily calories
This is a standard recommendation and is not suitable for weight loss or building muscle.
- Daily carbs : 2090 x 50/100 = 1045 calories from carbs
- Protein: 2090 x 30/100 = 627 calories from proteins
- Daily fats: 2090 x 25/100 = 418 calories from fats
Now we turn this value into grams to make it easier for us;
- Carbs- 4 calories per gram : 1045/4 = 261.25g of carbs per day
- Protein- 4 calories per gram: 627/4 = 156.27g of protein per day
- Fats- 9 calories per gram: 418/9 = 46.44g of fat per day
If you’re still unsure you can have some apps such as; Healthy eater or If It Fits Your Macros. These apps are fast and straightforward and all you have is answer the questions and they’ll do the calculating for you.
Keeping track of your macros
Now that you know your daily macros, its time to implement with your meals. Tracking your macros means keeping track of everything you eat to ensure that they fit under your daily recommendations. For convenience, you can use apps such as My macros, myfitnesspal, or cronometer. If you prefer not to use apps, you can measure out your foods with a food scale and log in foods grams into a food journal or diary.
Why you should count and track your macros
1. Better nutrition
We know that all calories are not created equal. The quality of food we choose to eat greatly varies. For example, did you know 1 green apple, 5 oranges, 1.5in brownie all have the same 100 calories? Though similar in calories, these foods vary greatly in quality. The apple will keep you full for longer while the brownie will have you feeling hungry. As you get used to counting calories, you will teach yourself to choose foods that are of better quality and thus more filling for your body
Read more: What 100 calories foods look like
2. For weight loss
It has been said that weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise. When your counting macros, you’re not second-guessing your body needs. You know exactly how much food you need to eat to lose weight effectively. Because you’re always choosing quality foods, you will be able to enjoy your weight loss journey.
3. For specific goals
If you find yourself losing too much weight, guess what, you can increase the number of calories you’re consuming. If you’re trying to build some muscle, how about increasing your protein intake. Counting macros is a technique often used by top athletes and performers to meet their health goals and so can you.
Counting macros is an excellent way to learn about better nutrition. You will learn how many calories your body needs daily and your daily macros quantities. Macronutrients such as carbs, protein, and fats are important for proper body function. We can only supply our bodies these nutrients by consuming them through foods.
To effectively use counting macros to meet your goals, keep track of your daily calories. You can keep it simple with apps or weight your food and note it down n a food journal. Be flexible with your macros and adjust as you go to find what suits your body best.