Macros – What Are They? In the last several years, it seems like everyone is talking about “macros.”
The full name for macros is macronutrients. When someone says they are “counting their macros,” they are counting/tracking how many grams of carbs, fats, and protein they eat.
Side note: there are four macronutrients: Protein, carbohydrates, fats, and alcohol, but we don’t count alcohol because it’s useless to the body.
What Does Each Macro Do?
Protein: helps build muscle, prevents muscle loss, and keeps you fuller longer than carbs or fats. You get it from meat, fish, eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, tofu, and protein powder.
Carbohydrates: This is our body’s primary energy source. You get it from fruits, veggies, beans, bread, cereal, potatoes, and pasta.
Fats: regulate hormones, assist in brain function, and transport nutrients. You get it from avocados, nuts, seeds, salmon, dairy, egg yolks, and olive oil.
Why Do People Count Macros?
Counting macros can help you eat healthier and more balanced. It’s similar to counting calories or points (Weight Watchers), but counting macros takes it further, requiring you to track three things (protein, carbs, and fats you eat) instead of one (calories or points).
Counting macros helps track where your calories are coming from. When you count macros, you have to track how many grams of protein you are eating (unlike counting calories). Knowing how much protein you eat is beneficial for someone trying to lose fat or build muscle because protein produces satiety and helps build and retain muscle.
Tracking your macros helps determine that you eat a balance of protein, carbs, and fats.
So, Calories Don’t Matter?
Yes, calories still matter. Calories are KING. When you track macros, you’re indirectly tracking calories. Let me explain…..
Each Macro Contains Calories – Here’s How Much:
Protein = There are 4 calories in every gram of protein.
Carbohydrates = There are 4 calories in every gram of carb
Fats = There are 9 calories in every gram of fat
For example, look at this protein bar. The total number of macros (protein, carbs, and fats) equals the total calories. Let me show you……
This bar has 290 calories, 20 grams of protein, 38 grams of carbs, and 7 grams of fat.
Let’s start with protein; remember I told you there are 4 calories in every gram of protein? To determine how many calories are from protein, take 20 x 4 (twenty grams of protein multiplied by four calories) = 80 calories from protein.
There are 38 grams of carbs. So, take 38 and multiply it by four calories (38 x 4) = 152 calories. 290 calories are coming from carbs.
And there are 7 grams of fat (7 x 9 = 63). 63 calories are coming from fats.
Add those numbers together…..
80 + 152 + 63 = 295 calories in the bar. Please note that this number will rarely be exact because numbers are often rounded on nutrition labels, but it will be close.
I hope that all makes sense if it doesn’t, reach out to me.
So, How Do You Track Macros?
First, determine how many calories you need for your goals.
You can google a macro calculator or keep it simple and do this:
- If your goal is to Lose Weight: Multiply your weight by 10 if you are sedentary, 12 if you are moderately active, or 14 if you are very active. For example, if you are 150 pounds and you are moderately active (150 lb x 12 = 1,800 calories to lose weight)
- If your goal is to Maintain Weight: Multiply your weight by 12 if you are sedentary, 14 if you are moderately active, or 16 if you are very active. For example, if you are 150 pounds and you are moderately active (150 lb x 14 = 2,100 calories to maintain your weight)
- If your goal is to Gain Weight/Muscle: Multiply your weight by 16 if you are sedentary, 18 moderately active, or 20 very active. For example, if you are 150 pounds and you are moderately active (150 lb x 18 = 2,700 calories to gain weight/muscle)
Once the calorie goal is established, determine how much protein, fat, and carbs you should consume. I recommend that 40% of your calories come from carbohydrates, 30% from fat, and 30% from protein. If you break it down like this, your diet will be balanced, resulting in more energy, less cravings, better hair, skin, and nails, and a better physique.
So, let’s say you are trying to lose weight. You are 150 lbs and moderately active. Using the 1800-calorie goal I mentioned earlier, your macronutrients will be broken down like this:
-Carbohydrates: 1,800 x 40% = 720 calories. To figure out how many grams of carbs are in 720 calories, divide 720 by 4 because there are 4 grams in each gram of carb = 180 grams per day of carbs
-Fat: 30% x 1,800 = 540 calories. To figure out how many grams of fat are in 540 calories, divide 540 calories by 9 (because there are 9 grams in each gram of fat) = 60 grams of fat per day
-Protein: 1,800 x 30% = 540 calories. To figure out how many grams of protein are in 720 calories, divide 720 by 4 (because there are 4 grams in each gram of protein) = 135 grams of protein per day
You can increase your carbs and protein slightly if you are an athlete. Active people require more energy, and if building muscle is important, protein intake could be closer to 35-40%, or to make it easy, aim for 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight or goal weight. So if you weigh 200 lbs and your goal is 150 lbs, aim for 150 grams of protein.
Counting macros is a great way to help you lose fat, build muscle, and get a lean, sculpted body.