For a long time, the way to diet was to simply count calories. But what you may not have realized is that counting macros can also help you hit your fitness goals. Unfortunately, far too many people not only do not know how to count macros, but don’t even know what they are.
This guide will provide you with detailed information on what macros are, how to count them, and the impact that they can have on your dietary progression.
What Are Macros?
Macros is short for macronutrients; this is what makes up the calorie content of a given food. The three categories for a macro are proteins, carbs and fats. It is essential that you count your macros as well as your calories because where those calories are coming from really does have an impact.
Each macro will provide a certain number of calories per gram. This will include carbs and protein that have lower calories per gram and fat, which is usually a little bit higher in the per gram content department.
By getting the right amount of fat, carbs, and protein, you can determine whether you are building or losing muscle and whether or not you are putting on or losing fat. We all have different fitness goals, so tracking your macros is important because you can base it on your individual goals.
How to Count Macros
To count your macros, you need to determine how much of each macronutrient you will need daily. This is based on your own unique body composition as well as your individual fitness goals and should not be generalized.
Once you have determined the macros that you need to count, you are able to go beyond counting simple calories and also tracking how many grams of fat, carbs, and protein that a food will provide. Once you know these pieces of information, you can then plan your macro diet around those foods that will help you to reach those daily macro targets.
Tracking your macros is really tracking your calories, but instead of just skimming the surface of that tracking, you are taking a more in-depth look into it. Here are the conversions from grams to calories for protein, carbs, and fat:
- Protein: 1 gram of protein = 4 calories
- Carbs: 1 gram of carbohydrates = 4 calories
- Fat: 1 gram of fat = 9 calories
So, for example, if you had a food that had a gram of fat, 15 grams of carbs, and 20 grams of protein, it would then have approximately 149 calories.
If you are counting macros, don’t worry about hitting an exact calorie goal. Those calories will be where they need to be if you are hitting the macro target that you have set for yourself.
If you have any questions or would like to get into the topic further, there are several guides out there that can help you get a better idea about macros and how to use them to aid in your fitness goals.
Calculating Your Macros
This is the method of figuring out how much of each macro that you should be eating on a daily basis. Figuring out what these figures should be isn’t cut and dry; it depends on varying levels in your age, activity level, gender, and even your genetic makeup. Some people have higher metabolism and burn more calories with less effort.
- The first step, however, is to determine what your daily calorie intake will be. A simple online calculator can give you a pretty general idea of what you need to be at.
You just have to plug your information in and get a rough estimate of what your calorie count should be on a daily basis. When you have figured out what your daily calorie intake should be.
- The next step is to calculate your macros by setting a percentage for each of those macros. Maybe you’re trying out a special low-carb, extra high-protein diet such as ketogenic. In cases such as these, your percentages will be different.
There are other factors to take into account as well so that you can make the necessary adjustments. Things like how your body handles carbs is important when factoring that in. A pretty good general starting point for percentage breakdown should look something like this: 40% carbs, 35% protein, 25% fat.
Breaking Down the Macro Calculations
Based on the aforementioned breakdown, let’s say that your calorie intake each day is around 1,800 calories. This means that 40% of those 1,800 need to come from carbs, 35% from protein, and 25% from fat. Then, it comes down to some simple math:
- Carbs: 40% x 1,800 calories = 720 calories from carbs
- Fat: 25% x 1,800 calories = 450 calories from fat
- Protein: 35% x 1,800 = 630 calories from protein
When you know how many calories that you want to take from each macro, you are just about there. There’s only one more step needed to figure out how many grams you’ll want to aim for from each macro.
Using the numbers from the prior section, this is how you would calculate those gram counts:
- Carbs: 720 calories / 4 calories per gram = 180 g carbs
- Fat: 450 calories / 9 calories per gram = 50 g fat
- Protein: 630 calories / 4 calories per gram = 157 g protein
Being able to properly calculate your macros gives you a new perspective on your fitness goals. You can now more accurately track what is going into your body and the impact that it is having on your day to day goals.
If you have any questions, be sure to speak to a nutritionist. They will be able to set you up with a guideline for either losing weight or building muscle, whatever your goal may be.
Obviously, there is more to it than simply counting your macros, but this will give you a leg up toward the fitness goals that you are looking to achieve. Macros can unlock a whole new dietary world.