Everything You Need to Know About Counting Macros
Ready to make a change and work on becoming healthier? We’ve all been there. You might be ready to lose some weight, make those muscle gains, and become a healthier version of yourself. Yet, many people just go around and around on the diet carousel and don’t ever end up accomplishing their goals.
If this sounds like you, then you are not alone. One reason that traditional diets may not be working for you could be because your macronutrient intake is all out of whack.
You may be working hard at eating healthier by consuming plenty of salads and other seemingly “good-for-you” foods – even if they aren’t your favorite. However, there is a more effective way to get the fuel your body needs, while still being able to lose that weight. Here’s everything you need to know about counting macronutrients to help you achieve your health and fitness goals.
What Are Macronutrients?
The prefix “macro” means “big,” so macronutrients – or macros – are a group of large nutrients that give your body the energy it needs to do all the things you love. By counting macros, you are creating a custom diet plan tailored to you. This is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach to weight loss and dieting. You can eat foods you love, sustain your healthiest body, and still make sure your goals are met.
There are three types of macronutrients: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Your body needs varying amounts of each of these three groups to survive (Yes, even fats are needed to maintain a healthy weight and nutrient intake).
Each of the macronutrient groups has a job to do when it comes to keeping your body and mind healthy. They all work together to support the healthiest version of yourself. Let’s take a more in-depth look into each macronutrient and what they do for your body.
Proteins are the first type of macronutrient. They’re what allows your body and muscles to grow. Without proteins, muscles wouldn’t be able to repair themselves, which can keep you from getting stronger and leaner.
Most people might think of meat like chicken or fish when they hear the word protein. These are two very solid options, especially as they are considered lean meats, but there are so many more. Meats like beef, pork, and other seafood can add variety and flavor to your protein intake.
Don’t forget about those crossover proteins as well, like beans and other legumes, which are also carbohydrates. Eggs and dairy products like milk and cheese are also fats, but they can add some variety to your protein intake.
Carbohydrates make up another category of macronutrients. No matter what kind of carb you eat, whether it’s simple or complex, all carbohydrates are broken down by your body into glucose.
Glucose is the main energy source within your body. Your brain and many organs require glucose to operate. Grains like bread and pasta, fruits, vegetables, and starchy foods like potatoes, are all carbohydrates.
The last macronutrient is fats, and it’s the most forgotten macro group. Fats play an extremely important role in our bodies. They make it possible for you to store energy, protect vital organs, produce certain hormones, absorb vitamins, and aid with overall cell health.
Fats can be found in foods like olives and olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, and crossover foods like fatty fish (think salmon and tuna). The important thing to note with fats is that you want to consume good fats, like omega-3s, in much higher amounts than saturated fats.
How Much of Each Macronutrient Do You Need?
So now you know what a macronutrient is, you’re probably wondering how to count macros and how much of each you need. This isn’t such an easy question to answer because it varies for each person and depends on your weight loss and health goals.
Two basic equations, one for men and one for women, are generally accepted for calculating the total of each macronutrient you need. We like to use the Mifflin-St. Jeor equation:
- Men: calories/day = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) + 5
- Women: calories/day = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) – 161
Next, you’ll want to look at how much activity you do regularly and multiply that by your daily calorie intake, which is what you calculated above:
- Extra active: (two or more times per day of strenuous exercise) multiply the above total by 1.9
- Very active: (performing hard exercise every day) x 1.725
- Moderately active: (moderate exercise during the majority of weekdays) x 1.55
- Lightly active: (less than three days a week of light exercise) x 1.375
- Sedentary: (limited exercise) x 1.2
Let’s take a look at an example. If you were a woman who weighs 80 kg, is 163 cm tall, and is 33 years old, your equation would be: (10 x 80) + (6.25 x 163) - (5 x 33) - 161 = 1,493 calories per day.
If you do yoga twice a week and a trail hike on the weekends, that would be considered light activity. The result would be calculated as 1,493 x 1.375 = 2,052 total calories.
Percentages of macronutrients as recommended by the Institute of Medicine are:
- Fats: 20–35% of total calories
- Proteins: 10–35% of total calories
- Carbs: 45–65% of total calories
If you don’t want to use the math to figure it out yourself, there are some free online macronutrient calculators out there to get you focused on your goals faster and more easily. Once you have your calories and macronutrients per day all figured out and calculated, it’s time to eat.
How to Count Macronutrients
There are several ways you can count macros. Here are just a few to help get you started:
- Try a Food Tracking App. Food tracking apps let you log everything you eat during the day in just a couple of easy steps on your phone, so you aren’t left struggling to remember at the end of the day. You also can take your log wherever you go, and inputting the information is as easy as sending a text.
- Invest in a Food Scale. Having a solid, but simple, food scale can make all the difference in making macro counting easy. Making sure you are eating the correct portions of your foods means that you know exactly how many grams of macronutrients you are getting in each meal. You may be tempted to estimate a serving size of trail mix, but with a food scale, you take the guesswork out of it. This allows you to stay on track and keep your weight loss goals in sight.
- Meal Prep. Meal prepping can help you stay on budget, buy foods in bulk and on sale, and avoid going out to eat regularly. This is a great tip for your waistline and macro counting. Whether you decide to make one meal and divide it all week or two to three and alternate, you are only doing the math once for each meal. Once you have figured out how many grams of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats are in your meal, you are done. Just keep adding those totals to your app and enjoy your meal!
- Keep It Interesting. Many recipes out there have done the hard work for you so you can keep your meals interesting. Follow the step-by-step instructions given, and they have the breakdown of macronutrients ready for you to enter into your tracker. There are also so many alternatives and meal replacements on the market. If you have a sweet tooth and are craving something chocolatey, don’t deny yourself. There are plenty of ways to make a smart choice!
Get the Right Macronutrient Totals for You the Delicious Way With Nutmeg State Nutrition
When nothing else has worked for you, remember you are not alone. But, you do have a new tool to try! Macronutrient counting could be exactly what you need to get your weight loss on track and create lasting success to keep your weight down and your body at its healthiest.
Nutmeg State Nutrition has just what you are looking for to keep you on track and feeling good. With our high-protein meal replacement bars and affordable weight loss meals, you can easily count your macros and meet your goals. To learn more about our products, contact our team.