Hey workout friends,
I know, I know, long time no chat. Sorry for the lack of blog posts lately, I have been focusing on producing something very exciting. Oh, and studying for my Physiotherapy entering exam, which I passed btw. So exciting. Next step is to rock the interview and the practical exam.
Enough about me. Today, I am here with the ultimate guide on how to track macros. Let’s get into it!
What are macros?
In order to successfully track macros, it’s important to understand what they are and why some people need other macro ratios than others.
In short, every food consists of 3 macronutrients: Protein, Carbs, and Fats. These are the only parameters, which contain kcal. Vitamins, minerals on the other hand, don’t contain calories.
Carbohydrates provide 4 kcal per 1 gram. They typically make up the largest portion in people’s diets. The daily calorie intake should consist of around 35-60% carbs.
Carbohydrates include sugars, fibers, and starches. Mostly, carbs are being broken down into glucose. Excess glucose is being stored as glycogen in the liver and the muscles.
Carbs are found in grains, vegetables, beans, dairy products and fruits. Carbs of high quality are for example, sweet potatoes, rice, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, vegetables, beans, fruits, etc.
Just like carbs, protein provides us with 4 kcal per 1 gram.
Protein is very important for many processes, like cell signaling, building and repairing of tissues, hormones and enzymes, and the function of the immune system.
It’s recommended that the daily protein intake should be somewhere around 20-35% of your calories.
Foods, which are rich in protein are fish, meats, dairy products, eggs, nuts, seeds, beans, tofu, lentils and wheat.
Even though fat has had a bad repetition in the past, it is actually a vital macronutrient, which we shouldn’t neglect. Our body needs fat to produce hormones, for food absorption and for temperature regulation. Moreover, vitamins A, D, E, K cannot be absorbed by the body without the presence of fatty acids.
Fats have a rather high caloric density, as they provide us with 9 kcal per gram. The suggested amount of fats in the diet is between 20-35% of the daily calorie intake.
High-quality fatty acids are avocadoes, nuts, olive oil, seeds, coconut oil (for cooking) and fatty fish.
How to count macros
Counting macros isn’t something you learn overnight. It takes time and practice. But with these simple steps, you are halfway there.
1. Analyze your body
First and foremost you need to analyze what your goals are. Then you should determine your caloric need. This is combined of the resting energy expenditure (REE) plus the non-resting energy expenditure (NREE). These two combined will give you the number of total calories you need in a day (TDEE).
There are different methods to calculate your caloric intake. However, you can simply use an online calculator for that.
Also, you want to decide on your goals. If your goals are building muscle mass, for example, you will have to be in a caloric surplus and your protein intake should be rather high.
2. Determine your macro ratio
After the first step, you should determine your macro ratio, due to your personal preferences, goals and body type.
Typical macro ratios are:
- Carbs: 45%-65%
- Fats: 20-35%
- Protein: 10-35%
Keep in mind that macro ratios vary from person to person.
If your goal is to build muscle mass and tone up, I would recommend a ratio like this:
- 40% carbs
- 35% protein
- 25% fats
3. Follow this diet for 5 days with tracking your food
This step is rather simple. Just follow your macros and calories for 5 days, keeping track with an app, like my fitnesspal, lifesum or yazio.
4. Make adjustments
The easiest way to notice how your body is responding to this new diet is by watching the scale and making transformation photos. I would always suggest using at least 2 parameters to track your progress, as the scale alone can create illusions (if you hold onto water, during period etc.)
If you are losing too much weight after 5 days, slowly start adding 25g of carbs per day. If you are gaining weight, your metabolism isn’t efficient enough, so decrease your carbs for 25g per day.
There are a lot of benefits to counting macros. Firstly, counting your macros may improve the quality of your food, as you are focusing on the macro nutritional value, rather than the caloric intake.
For example, a slice of cake may have the same number of calories than an oatmeal with peanut butter, fresh berries, and seeds on top. However, these meals vary completely in macro nutritional value.
Understanding macros is imperative to understand what’s inside your food and how much good nutrients are in one portion.
I hope this article was informative and that you now understand how you can track your macros.
Personally, I don’t track my food, unless I want to shred some fat or if I lose track of how many macros are in which foods.
Please keep in mind that macros are not everything when it comes to healthy food. Eating enough veggies, fruits, vitamins, and minerals is equally, when not more important.
Thanks for reading,