If you’re wondering what are macros, you’re not alone. But when it comes to breaking down macros and learning all about them, there are a few different things that you’re going to have to keep in mind.
With the New Year starting and counting calories back on the table, it’s time to dive into macros and learn a bit more about them and how to track them properly as well.
What Are Macros
Before discussing how to count or track macros, you need to know exactly what macros are. You might be shocked to learn that “macro” is actually short for “macronutrient” and has three different food elements that funnel into it.
Macros are broken down into three parts: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. And when you hear people talk about “counting their macros” or “tracking their macros” they’re referring to the fact that they’re keeping track of their calories, carbs consumed, and/or fat content ate during the day.
What Are Macros in Food?
As discussed above, there are three main macros in food with one extra one that needs to be taken into account as well. The top three that most people track are protein, fat, and carbs. However, if you consume alcohol, don’t forget to factor in those extra calories and carbs as well because every sip you take does need to be tracked just like every bite of food you’re taking as well.
How do I figure out my macros?
Once you decide that you’re ready to start tracking your macros on a daily basis, you’ll have to dive deep and figure out a few details before knowing how to adjust your macro count. You’ll have to know the number of calories you’re going to eat daily and use a standard calculation to figure out the number of macros you’re going to consume on a daily basis.
A simple that you can use to give yourself a good guesstimate can be calculated as follows:
- 1 gram of protein = 4 calories
- 1 gram of carbohydrates = 4 calories
- 1 gram of fat = 9 calories
- 1 gram of alcohol = 7 grams
What this shows you is that for every gram of protein, you need to figure at least 4 calories and for every gram of fat, you need to know that you’re consuming about 9 calories as well.
While this might not be perfect and can vary depending on your weight and the number of calories that you consume daily, this does give you a pretty solid estimate on how you can figure out your macros for tracking purposes.
Why Track Macros?
When it comes to tracking macros, there are a few reasons to consider. And truth be told, every single person who keeps track of their daily macros does it for a different reason and purpose.
What you’ll find is that the most common reasons for tracking macros are to improve your awareness of what you’re consuming, to help you understand calories and how quickly and easily they add up, to instill positive eating habits that will help you out all throughout your life, to have a healthier relationship with food, and to help lose weight easily as well.
Counting Macros vs. Counting Calories
Even though counting calories and counting macros are similar, they’re different as well. When you’re counting calories, you’re counting your overall calorie consumption during the day and are trying to limit your calories to a certain number to lose or maintain your weight.
When you’re counting macros, you have to focus more on the three groups (carbs, proteins, and fats) and breaking down the caloric counts into more specific terms based on your diet needs.
Either method work in helping to eat healthier and lose weight but counting macros tends to have a better overall focus on fueling your body with more well-rounded food choices.
Getting Started Tracking Macros
The other big difference to know when you’re starting to track your macros is that every single person is going to have a different macro target from one another. The target number will vary based on age, weight, activity level, etc. and this is why it tends to work well for people because it’s tailored exactly to their own personal needs.
Using an online macro calculator is a free resource that can be a great place to start figuring out how to track and count your macros. Keep in mind that these results might be a bit skewed and that one of the best ways to get started tracking macros is to actually work directly with a macro coach instead.
Even though the calorie counting is a bit different when it comes to figuring out macros, making certain that you have a calorie deficit diet in a healthy way is still one of the top ways to lose weight. Since you know that counting macros means that you’re going to be tracking your proteins, fats, and carbs, you can be relatively certain that eating more protein and cutting out calories in the carb section is going to be a good option for helping jumpstart your weight loss goals.
Once you find success counting and tracking your macros, you’re going to want to be certain that you are aware of the maintenance that has to be done to keep up with your lifestyle. Finding that balance can take a little bit of time, but a good measuring stick is to figure that you’re going to want about 45-65% of your calories daily to be from carbs, up to 35% for protein, and up to 35% for fat as well.
Food Scale – the importance of weighing food
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Most people overlook one of the easiest and most accurate ways of counting and tracking their food. If you’re wanting precise numbers, you need to use a food scale to weigh your food.
When you know the exact weight of your food, you’ll know the exact number of calories and macros as well.
My Fitness Pal – How to Track via MFP
Using My Fitness Pal makes it super simple to track your daily macros. They have quite an extensive food list that even breaks it down for you into carbs, proteins, and fats. This means that you just have to say what you’ve even and everything will be easily calculated and stored for you.
Tips and Tricks for Counting Macros
One of the biggest tips that still helps me to this day is that I keep track of what I eat. There’s nothing more frustrating at the end of the day than feeling as though you worked so hard to stay on track, only to not be able to remember what you’ve consumed or eaten.
Write out what you eat, verbally speak it into your phone, or just jot it down in an email and sent it to yourself. It’s such a timesaver and sanity saver at the end of the day.
Other simple tips and tricks that are valuable can be found below.
Taking the time to meal prep can help you cut down on overeating or skipping your healthy eating plan altogether. And while it may seem weird to do at first, after time you’ll get the hang out it and love that it makes you easily more prepared.
Focus on protein
When you’re counting your macros, protein is your friend! The more protein, the better!
Prelog your food in the morning
Just as I mentioned above about tracking your food, you can also try to prelog your food in the morning BEFORE you eat it so that you can look at it later in the day to help you stay focused and on track.
Now that you know more about what are macros and all the things that you can do to stay on track and find success, the rest of the puzzle is up to you. You hold the pieces to put it all together and now’s the time to make it happen!