Macros (short for macronutrients) are the dietary elements we need the most of to survive. There are three types of macros: proteins, carbs, and fats. These are separate from micronutrients like vitamins and minerals, which combine with macronutrients to perform hundreds of healthy functions in our systems. The purpose of counting macros is usually to lose fat or to support a weight training program with the proper nutrients necessary to achieve the goal.
Counting macros can be important because your progress toward your weight loss or muscle gain goal is dependent not only on certain foods, but on certain food combinations in the right ratios. For example, it is actually possible to consume too few calories to catalyze fat burning. But understanding your macro requirements and tracking them should help with your fitness and weight management goals. So, we have prepared a step by step guide on how to identify the right macros for you and begin tracking them.
Calculating your ideal intake levels for the three macro groups is the first objective. To do this, you can either use an online macro calculator or follow this short process:
IDENTIFY YOUR IDEAL CALORIC INTAKE
To identify your ideal caloric intake, use the Mifflin – St. Jeor method to calculate the number of calories you currently burn. This will tell you how many calories to consume to maintain your present weight. (From there, you can adjust upward if you’re extremely active, or downward if you wish to lose weight.)
To calculate your normal calories burned each day, complete this calculation:
Men: Daily Calories (Maintenance) = [ 10 x Weight (kg) ] + [ 6.25 x Height (cm) ] – [ 5 x Age ] + 5
Women: Daily Calories (Maintenance) = [ 10 x Weight (kg) ] + [ 6.25 x Height (cm) ] – [ 5 x Age ] – 161
The result of this equation represents your ideal caloric intake if you want to maintain your current weight and you get little exercise. Adjust the number to your scenario as follows:
- If you wish to lose weight, you may reduce the number by up to 25%.
- If you exercise lightly three times per week, you may increase the number by up to 30%.
- If you exercise moderately five times per week, you may increase the number by up to 50%.
- If you do strenuous labor five times a week, you may increase the number by up to 90%.
SELECT THE MACRO COMBINATION RIGHT FOR YOUR GOAL
Now that you know your desired daily calory intake, there is just one more number you’ll need to calculate your macros. Remember that reaching your weight loss or muscle growth goal is more than just eating the right foods – it’s eating the right food combinations in the right ratios. And the right ratio varies based on what you want to achieve with your body.
Based on your fitness goal, choose the macro combination right for what you want to achieve next:
MARCO COMBO RATIOS:
|1. LOSE WEIGHT:||15% carb||40% fat||45% protein|
|2. BUILD MUSCLE:||25% carb||20% fat||40% protein|
|3. CONTROL BLOOD SUGAR: and KETOGENESIS:||10% carb||70% fat||20% protein|
These percentage numbers are your ideal macro combination and they enable you to convert calories into grams, the unit by which food is most easily measured.
CALCULATE MACROS AS A PERCENTAGE OF CALORIES
Now that you know your ideal caloric intake and your macro combos, you are ready to calculate the actual gram measurements of the foods you will eat. To proceed, you’ll need to know these measures:
|One gram of:||Has this many calories:|
|Carbs||four (4) calories / gram|
|Protein||four (4) calories / gram|
|Protein||four (4) calories / gram|
|Fat||nine (9) calories / gram|
So, you can calculate how many grams of FAT you should consume daily using this formula:
Grams per day of FAT:
[ MACRO COMBO RATIO x IDEAL CALORIC INTAKE ] / 9 = _____________ grams
Example: [ 30% * 2,000 ] / 9 = 67 grams of fat per day
And you can calculate how many grams of CARBS OR PROTEIN to consume daily using this formula:
Grams per day of each PROTEIN AND CARBS:
[ MACRO COMBO RATIO x IDEAL CALORIC INTAKE ] / 4 = _____________ grams
Example: [ 30% * 2,000 ] / 4 = 150 grams of carbs per day
Example: [ 40% * 2,000 ] / 4 = 200 grams of protein per day
RECORD YOUR INTAKE AND FOLLOW YOUR PROGRESS
You should now have calculated yourself a brief chart that looks about like this:
My Daily Macronutrients Intake:
- Fat: 67 grams
- Carbs: 150 grams
- Protein: 200 grams
Remember this is just an example – your chart will be different based on your starting weight and what your goal is. But you should know those three numbers for you.
After you have your macro goals, now you just need to begin recording them for review. You can use a small spiral notebook with a page for each day. At the top, list your macro goals. Writing them at the top of the page each day will reinforce them in your memory and support your commitment and focus.
Next, divide the page into three columns labeled “proteins”, “carbs”, and “fat”. Then after every meal, write down the number of grams of each nutrient you received from the meal, listing the grams in the respective column it applies to.
At your next meal, open the notebook before you decide what to eat. Review how the total nutrients are stacking up in each column and plan your next meal based on what you need more of (or less of) throughout the rest of the day. Repeat this practice every time you’re about to cook or order off a menu.
Or if you prefer a high tech solution, there are numerous macro-tracking apps you can install on your smartphone, some with other features that may help you with your goal. For example, myfitnesspal.
It’s a lot to think about – we get it. If you have questions about macronutrients or any of the conditions discussed here, connecting with a doctor in a discrete setting has never been easier.
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