Are you working towards weight loss, muscle gain or any exercise goal?
Then you know how important diet is.
Whether or not you are going to be successful will depend on a number of factors, including calorie intake and macronutrients intake. Our attention today is on the later, also known as macros.
That´s why today we will take a brief look at how to calculate your macros for an effective diet. Let’s dive in!
What are Macros?
Macronutrients are the type of foods including carbohydrates, proteins and fats required in substantial amounts in the human diet. We wouldn’t want to dwell on what these foods are but let me just remind you how beneficial they are for our bodies.
Carbohydrates provide energy to our muscles as well as our central nervous system. They are actually critical to brain functioning and play a key role in influencing memory and mood.
Proteins are extended chains of amino acids that make up everything in your body including bones, muscles, skin, hair, and more. Your organs cannot exist without protein. Protein is derived from animal foods such as meat, poultry, eggs, as well as plant-based foods such as beans, seeds, nuts, and quinoa.
Fats and I mean dietary fat, is an energy source for our bodies. Your body stores fat (not to make you fat though) and uses it as energy when your carbohydrates reserves are depleted. Fat sources include butter, oils, fatty meat, fatty fish, and seeds. Keep in mind that not all fats are good, but that’s a topic for another day.
Let’s talk about calculating macros
You now have a good understanding of how every macro is essential to your daily diet. The big question is, how much of every macro do you need?
First of all, you need to know that:
- Carbs have 4 calories per gram,
- Proteins have 4 calories per gram, and
- Fats have 9 calories per gram.
Now, let’s take an example from one nutrition label:
From the label above, you can see that the Pinto beans contain:
- 63g of carbohydrates
- 21g of proteins
- 1.2g of fats
Based on the knowledge that carbs and proteins contain 4 calories per gram, and fats contain 9 calories per gram, then we’ll have:
63g x 4 calories per gram = 252 calories from carbohydrates
21g x 4 calories per gram = 84 calories from proteins
1.2g x 9 calories per gram = 10.8 calories from fats
If you have specific macros goals, it is important to calculate your macronutrients intake each day. Apps such as loseit.com and myfitnesspal.com can make it easy for you to track your macros on a day to day basis. All you have to do is enter your foods and amounts, and the app will tell you the total number of each macro in your meals. Perhaps the only downside with these apps is that they generate generic results instead of a custom plan for you. If you want a more customized macro plan, seek help from a health and wellness coach.
What macros ratio do you need?
It depends on your diet goals. Just to give you a few examples, if your main goal is:
- Maintenance: increase your carbohydrate and fat consumption. This can be as follows; carbohydrates 35% – 55%, protein 25% – 40%, and fat 25% – 40%.
- Weight loss: increase your protein intake while reducing your carbohydrate and fat intake. The standard here is 35% – 50% protein, 25% – 45% carbohydrates, and 20% – 35% fat.
- Muscle gain: go with a higher carbs and protein intake to fuel your training. The macro ratio should be 45% – 35% – 20% carbohydrates, protein, and fat respectively.
Benefits of counting your macros
Still not convinced? Here’s why you need to track your macros:
- You are more likely to stick to your diet plan
Yes! There’s room for adding some chocolate, ice cream or cheeseburger. Most people lose interest in following a restricted diet, so counting your macros gives you so much freedom to mix things in a healthy manner.
- You can still eat out with friends
Sticking to a particular diet and keeping a social lifestyle can be tough. Most diets restrict you from eating out, which in most cases forces you to carry your prepped food to work. If you are counting your macros, you simply need to check the nutritional value of the meal you want to eat in a restaurant. Most restaurants or eateries will usually have the nutritional value of their menus online.
- Meal prep won’t take a lot of time
Typical dieters spend many hours prepping meals each and every week. Since no food is off the limits when counting macros, you can be more flexible in what you eat. Furthermore, you can stock your kitchen with a variety of nutritious foods and some of your favs.
- Improved performance in your workouts
As mentioned earlier, counting your macros, especially carbs and fat, can effectively power you through your workouts. The results will speak for themselves later.
- You will learn more about food
As you count macros, you get to know a lot about the nutritional content in your favourite meals. While it’s hard to keep on tracking your diet for life, you will learn how to make proper food choices. In any case, knowledge is power.
To sum it up
Starting a macros plan can help you achieve your diet goals, whether fitness, weight loss, keto or any other.
Don’t forget to make it fun; doing the same thing over and over is boring. Luckily, there’s flexibility in calculating macros.