If you are looking to get fit, chances are you need to know a little bit about counting macros. Macros are the building blocks that your body uses in order to perform at its best. When your macros are balanced according to your needs, your body shape will change and you will have more energy.
What are Macronutrients?
There are three different macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
You can find carbohydrates in foods like beans, grains, starchy vegetables, fruits and some dairy products. They should make up about 40-65% of your daily calories. Each gram of carbohydrates offers 4 calories, which your body breaks down into blood sugar (glucose) and uses for immediate energy. Any extra goes to your liver or muscles where it is stored.
Fatty foods include avocados, nuts, seeds, fish, meat, butter, and oils. They are crucial for hormone production, body temperature maintentance, and nutrient absorption and should make up around 20-30% of your daily calorie intake. Fats have the highest calorie count per gram at 9 calories.
High protein foods include eggs, tofu, lentils, fish, and poultry. They offer 4 calories per gram, like carbohydrates, but should make up about 10-35% of your daily calorie intake. They are important for immune functioning, cell signaling, and building tissues.
Tweaking your macronutrient ratios requires knowledge about your calorie needs, and an idea as to your physical fitness goals. The goal is to unite your macros with your calorie needs so that you are burning fat and building muscle in a way that is optimal to your goals.
Luckily, it is easy for just about anybody to start tracking their own macros. All it takes is a little bit of time and energy.
1. Know your calorie needs.
First you need to see what your resting and non resting energy expenditure, which you can do with an online calculator. Once you know how many calories you need in order to still be a human being, you can decide whether or not you are trying to lose, maintain, or gain.
2. Create your macronutrient ratios.
You should create your macronutrient ratios by first calculating your protein and fat macronutrients. Your carbohydrates will be whatever is remaining. Once you know how many calories need to come from which macronutrients, the real work begins.
You need to figure out what foods you can and cannot eat that will allow you to stick to your macronutrient ratios. You can do this by looking at the nutrition label, and then multiply the grams listed by the number of calories per gram of the macro nutrient.
3. Track your intake: calories and macronutrients.
Tracking your intake is where the work gets hard, but you can easily find good macro counting apps to do it for you. You need to track your calories and your macronutrients together.
If you are doing it yourself, all you need to do is look at the nutrition label for said food. If, for example, the cookie has 2 grams of fat, you will be consuming 2 grams of fat and 18 calories from that fat.
It might be easier to plan your meals ahead of time that way you know you are staying within your macronutrient and calorie needs.
The most important thing is to not get discouraged. You should keep a food journal to keep track of how you feel. You might find that you need to adjust your macronutrient ratios as time goes by and you see or do not see any improvements.
Tracking macros can be an easy and rewarding hobby that can help you reach your health and fitness goals, so long as you continue to listen and respond to your body’s needs.