MACRONUTRIENT COUNTING: WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
You may have heard it before macronutrient counting. But what does “counting macros” exactly mean? And does it work? Today I am giving you an overview of macronutrient counting and how it affects our bodies.
WHAT ARE MACRONUTRIENTS?
First, let’s start with understanding what macronutrients (aka macros) are. All food breaks down to three macronutrients: carbs, fats, and protein. Each macronutrient is necessary for different processed in our bodies. For example, protein is mainly a building block while carbohydrates are mainly used as an energy source
All macronutrients provide some sort of energy. Protein and carbs provide us with 4 calories per gram while fats provide us with 9 calories per gram.
Some good examples of Macronutrients include:
- Simple carbohydrates: table sugar, candy, fruits
- Complex carbohydrates: rice, potatoes, vegetable
- Fats: Olive oil, fish oils, egg yolk, animal fat
- Protein: animal meats, chicken, fish, egg whites
WHAT DOES “COUNTING MACROS” MEAN?
Counting macros refers to the method of calculating and balancing out your intake of each macronutrient. It’s basically the art of figuring out how much of each macronutrient you need for optimal health, performance and goals.
Some trainers (including myself) are HUGE fans of keeping track of our macros while others believe just sticking to well balanced and proportioned meals is good enough.
Based on my experience (both with myself and with clients) counting macros can get you results faster that not doing so. I find that those who keep track of their macros have a much better idea of how much food they are eating and are better able to achieve their goals.
OK, SO WHERE DO I START?
I suggest you start by downloading an app like Fitness Plan to help you keep track of what you are eating. Keep a log of what you are eating for a few days to get an idea of how much of each macro you are intaking.
Then based on your goals, start making adjustments! If your aim is to lose weight you probably will need to eat anywhere from 0.7 to 1 grams of protein per lbs of body weight per day. If you are looking to gain weight, you will most likely benefit from eating 1 to 1.2 grams of protein per day. The rest of your calories should come from carbs and fats accordingly. Now, how much fats vs. how much carbs really depends on you. Some people fare well with higher fats diet while others do much better with higher carbs.
In either case, know that you have to be in caloric deficit if you are trying to lose weight, but in a caloric surplus, if you looking to gain weight.
Get your hands on a BMR (Base Metabolic Rate) calculator in order to figure out how much calories you need to consume per day. Your BMR is the number of calories that your body needs at rest. You should never (.. and I mean NEVER) dip below your BMR as you can severely damage your metabolism.
Now once you have your BMR start by adding 500 calories on top of that number. Some calculator will actually give you a range. If so, start with the higher number and subtract 250 calories from that if looking to lose weight or add 250 calories to that number if you are looking to gain weight.
Once you have all that figured out it’s is just a matter of weighing your food and logging it in. Ideally, you should hit your caloric and macronutrient intake in order to achieve your goals.Voila!
IS IT WORTH THE TIME TO COUNT MACROS?
Again, if you ask me, yes! If you have goals and are on a tight deadline then keeping track of your macros is the way to go! It definitely puts things into perspective. I’ve found that most females often are not eating enough protein to maintain and repair our muscle tissue. The only way to resolve that is to keep a food log and count your macros!
With that said, yes, counting macros can be daunting and annoying at times but if you are serious about your goals then it’s worth the trouble!
Want to learn more about nutrition and how to keep track of your macros? Then check out my online training program which includes a series of talks specifically on how to count macros!