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How to Count Macros: Everything You Need to Know

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How to Count Macros: Everything You Need to Know
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You've been told that counting macros is the key to weight loss success. But what in the world are macros, and how do you go about counting them? Aren't they just for bodybuilders and fitness fanatics?

Don't worry; we're here to help. This guide will educate you with all the information about macros, considering what macro counting is, how to count them, finding out macros for fat loss and building lean body mass, their benefits, and how to use them for weight loss.

So whether you're looking to lose weight or want to ensure you're getting the right nutrients, keep reading!

What are Macronutrients?

When it comes to nutrients, we usually think of them in terms of vitamins and minerals. However, other types of nutrients are just as important for our health. These are called macronutrients and include proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

These nutrients play a vital role in our bodies. Proteins help build and repair tissues, carbohydrates provide energy, and fats help to absorb essential vitamins and minerals. While we need all three of these nutrients for good health, the amount of each one that we need depends on our individual needs.

For example, athletes require more protein than sedentary people, and pregnant women need more folic acid than other adults. By understanding each macronutrient's role, we can ensure that we're getting the right mix of nutrients for our individual needs.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates include sugars, starches, and fibers, and they provide your body with immediate energy or are stored as glycogen in your liver and muscles. Carbs contribute 4 calories per gram to the overall macronutrients and make up an enormous portion of people’s calorie consumption.

Carb intake is the most hotly discussed of all macronutrient recommendations, but major health organizations suggest consuming 45–65% of your daily calories from carbs.

Carbohydrates are found in grains, starchy vegetables, beans, dairy products, and fruits. So if you’re looking to cut down on carbs, you’ll need to give up some of your favorite foods. But remember, moderation is key. You can still enjoy carbs as part of a healthy diet if you don’t consume them excessively.

Fats

Fats are an important part of the human diet, providing energy and critical nutrients for the body. Fat gives 9 calories per gram, making it the most calorie-dense of the macronutrients.

The body needs fat for energy, hormone production, nutrient absorption, and body temperature maintenance. Though typical macronutrient recommendations for fat intake range from 20-35% of total calories, many people succeed in following a diet higher in fat.

Fatty foods like oils, butter, avocado, nuts, meat, and fatty fish are an important part of a healthy diet. So don't be afraid to embrace the fats!

Proteins

Proteins, such as eggs, meats and dairy products, can be found in many forms. The body needs proteins to function properly; they provide 4 calories per gram for our bodies' cells and other structures like hormones or enzymes with special functions that help us live better lives (10–35%).

But there are no one-size-fits-all recommendations regarding how much you should consume — this depends on age, weight loss goals, etc. unless otherwise recommended by your doctor, who knows best about any specific medical conditions.

What is Macro Counting?

Macro counting is calculating the macronutrients (fat, protein, and carbohydrates) in the foods you eat and ensuring that they fit into your daily allotment. While it might sound tedious, once you get the hang of it, it can be fun- like a nutritional puzzle.

If you're considering giving macro counting a try, the first step is to calculate how many macros you need per day. This number will contrast for everyone, depending on age, weight, activity level, and goals. Once you have your count, you can start looking up different foods' macronutrient content and planning your meals accordingly.

How to Count Macros?

You may be confused about the ways to count macros. Here I have some listed down for you.

Determine How Many Calories Per Macro

The breakdown of macronutrients is a significant factor in determining how many calories you'll get from each. For example, a food or beverage containing 10g of fat will provide 90 calories, and 10 grams of proteins and carbs will give you 40 calories from this essential nutrient which means fats provide more than twice as much energy as protein and carbohydrates. So next time, when looking at your favorite foods' labels on the shelf life, don't forget these crucial numbers: Protein (4 cal/gram) vs. Fats & Carbs(9).

  • 1g of protein = 4 calories
  • 1g of carbohydrates = 4 calories
  • 1g of fat = 9 calories

Calculate the Total Macro Calories

In order to find out how many calories you should be consuming you need to find your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the number of calories you burn as your body performs basic (basal) life-sustaining function. There are many formulas you can use and online calculators but one common one is known as the Harris–Benedict equation. Here is the equation for men and women:

Men

BMR = (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) - (5 × age in years) + 5

Women

BMR = (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) - (5 × age in years) - 161

Take for example a 30 year old man who weighs 70 kg and is 180cm tall.

BMR = (10 x 70) + (6.25 × 180cm) - (5 × 30) + 5

BMR = 1980 calories

Evaluate Your Macros and Calorie Intake

To evaluate your specific macronutrients needs you can break down your total calories into percentages of each. This will all depend on your goals and personal preferences. For example your break down may look like this:

100% = Total Calories

  • 30% of calories come from Protein
  • 40% of calories come from Carbohydrates
  • 30% of calories come from Fat

Let's take our example we used previously and find the values for it.

Total calories = 1980 cals

Protein = 1980 x 30% = 594 calories / 4 calories = 148.5 grams

Carbs = 1980 x 40% = 792 calories / 4 calories = 198 grams

Fats = 1980 x 30% = 594 calories / 9 calories = 66 grams

Here are some other examples of percentages based off personal preferences:

Person who enjoys a HIGH carb, LOW fat diet:

  • 30% Protein
  • 55% Carbohydrates
  • 15% Fat

Person who enjoys LOW carb, HIGH fat diet:

  • 30% Protein
  • 20% Carbohydrates
  • 50% Fat

Determining Macros for Fat Loss & Building Lean Body Mass

Different macro ratios can be effective in fat loss and muscle building. For instance, a higher protein intake can help preserve lean body mass while shedding fat. In comparison, a higher carbohydrate intake can help to replenish energy levels and promote muscle growth.

There are some general guidelines you can follow. For fat loss, a common ratio is 40/40/20 - 40% carbs, 40% protein, and 20% fat. For muscle gain, a common ratio is 50/30/20 - 50% carbs, 30% protein, and 20% fat. Of course, these are just general guidelines - you'll need to experiment to see what works best for you.

Ultimately, the best way to determine which macro ratio is right for you is to test and see what works best for your body and your goals. So if you're looking to get serious about your fitness journey, start tracking your macros and look at what kind of results you can achieve!

Benefits of Counting Macros

Counting macros has multiple benefits that sustain our diet and better health. Here are some of them.

Helps Improve Diet Quality

Counting macros isn't just about hitting some arbitrary numbers. It's also about improving the quality of your diet.

By making sure that you're getting enough protein, for example, you can help reduce cravings and boost metabolism. And by ensuring you're getting plenty of healthy fats, you can help enhance your skin and hair health. In short, counting macros is a great way to improve your overall diet quality.

So if you're looking to alternate your eating habits, don't forget to count your macros.

Helps in Weight Loss

By assessing your macros, you'll see which foods help you lose weight and which don't. Most people are surprised to learn that counting macros isn't as restrictive as they thought it would be.

Once you get the hang of it, it can be quite liberating! You'll no longer have to worry about 'good' or 'bad' foods or feel guilty after eating something 'off plan.' Instead, you'll be able to focus on eating nutrient-dense foods that make you feel your best.

Helps Boost Energy

When trying to boost your energy levels, it's important to ensure you're getting the right mix of macros. The right ratio of macros will help your body to function at its best. Too much or too little of any one macro can lead to fatigue and low energy levels.

By counting macros, you can ensure you're getting the perfect mix of nutrients to fuel your body and keep your energy levels up. So if you're feeling exhausted all the time, try counting macros- it just might give you the boost you need.

How to Track Macros & Food Intake

There are a few ways to track your macros. One popular method is to use a food scale to weigh and measure your food. This can be a bit time-consuming, but it's very precise.

Another option is to use a food-tracking app like MyFitnessPal. This app has a database of over 11 million foods, so you can easily find and track the foods you're eating.

Plus, it breaks down your macro intake to see exactly how much of each nutrient you consume. Proteins, carbs, and fats will come loose on your plate, and you will be able to identify each one according to your requirement.

FAQs

1. What is a macro counting calculator?

A macro counting calculator is an online tool that can help you keep track of the number of macros you consume in a day. By tracking your macros, you can ensure that you get the right balance of nutrients to support your body and fitness goals.

There are many different macros, but the three most important ones are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. With a macro counting calculator, you can input the foods you eat and see how much of each macro they contain.

2. How does counting macros help weight loss?

Counting macros can be an effective tool for weight loss because it helps you understand better the food you are eating. When you can see exactly how much of each nutrient you are ingesting, it becomes easier to make choices leading to weight loss.

In addition, counting macros can help hold you accountable for your eating habits. If you know you need to eat a certain number of carbohydrates daily, you are less likely to indulge in unhealthy snacks.

3. What are macros in food?

In the world of food, there are three main types of nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Proteins, carbs, and fats are considered macronutrients. Carbs are found in bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes; they're the body's preferred energy source.

Fats are found in oils, butter, nuts, and meats; they help to regulate body temperature and protect our organs. Proteins are found in meat, poultry, fish, legumes, and eggs; they help to repair tissue and make enzymes and hormones.

4. What are macros?

Macronutrients, including carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, are nutrients that we need in large quantities. Carbohydrates are our body's main energy source, and they can be found in bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes.

Proteins are essential for the growth and repair of our tissues, and they can be found in meats, eggs, dairy products, and beans. Fats are a concentrated source of energy, and they help to protect our organs and keep us warm.

While we need all three of these macronutrients for good health, the specific amount depends on factors like age, activity level, and overall health.

The Bottom Line

Macronutrients, such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are an essential part of your meal. Counting macros can be a great way to reach your fitness goals, whether your goal is fat loss or muscle gain. By tracking and adjusting your macro intake, you can ensure that you're getting the right mix of nutrients to fuel your body and keep your energy levels up. So if you're looking for a way to take control of your health, give counting macros a try!

Reading List

Article Sources

  • Venn, Bernard J. ‘Macronutrients and Human Health for the 21st Century’. Nutrients, vol. 12, no. 8, Aug. 2020, p. 2363. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12082363.
  • Carreiro, Alicia L., et al. ‘The Macronutrients, Appetite and Energy Intake’. Annual Review of Nutrition, vol. 36, July 2016, pp. 73–103. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-nutr-121415-112624.
  • Upadhaya, Santi Devi, and In Ho Kim. ‘Importance of Micronutrients in Bone Health of Monogastric Animals and Techniques to Improve the Bioavailability of Micronutrient Supplements — A Review’. Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences, vol. 33, no. 12, Dec. 2020, pp. 1885–95. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.5713/ajas.19.0945.
  • Buyken, A. E., et al. ‘Dietary Carbohydrates: A Review of International Recommendations and the Methods Used to Derive Them’. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 72, no. 12, 2018, pp. 1625–43. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41430-017-0035-4.

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