Should you count macros?

Are you sticking to your current nutrition plan and still finding you just can’t seem to get results?

Maybe you need a change up.

Have you heard about counting Macros?

To put it simply counting macros means you track/count the number of grams of your macronutrients.

Macronutrients are what make up the caloric content of a food. Referred to as “macros,” the three categories of macronutrients are carbohydrates, fat, and protein.

The caloric combination of the macros is where that total number of calories comes from. It’s not about how many calories are in your food, but what kind of calories are in your food.

Not everyone is created equal so what works for one person to reach their goals may not necessarily work for the next. If you’ve tried a few different eating plans but you still want better results, than counting macros may be for you. Have a read and see if you think this would be suitable for you and your lifestyle.

Benefits of counting macros include:

  • Education
  • Improved fitness performance and strength
  • You can still socialise and enjoy a meal out. Treat yourself
  • It provides a measure you you can really adjust to track progress
  • Shows you how much protein is enough
  • No food is off limits
  • Provides targets , which gives people a small daily goal to focus on

Here’s your macronutrient breakdown:

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

Counting macros can often be time consuming and tedious and put people off doing it. For your average person losing body fat or gaining muscle is hard enough without letting your eating plan take over your life.

Suitable times to implement counting macros:

  • You’re lean but want to be leaner
  • Reset your body cravings
  • To understand how much is enough Protein
  • You are training for a specific event or deadline

Where to start?

The first step is to download a Fitness/Nutrition Apps on your smartphone. It is perfect for tracking your macros. Apps such as myfitnesspal are suitable for setting your macro targets and helping you hit everyday. Just enter your daily foods and let the app do the maths for you.

Secondly , you need to figure out your body’s optimal calorie intake.

Easiest way to do that is use a done for you calculator online such as this one from FreeDiet. Basically we need to figure out your TDEE – Total Daily Energy Expenditure and then multiply this number by your activity factor. Now this figure you get is dependant on being honest. If you do no exercise than put down sedentary.

By using the calculator we can now work out how many calories your body needs to lose weight, maintain or even gain weight. Now we have a place to start counting macros.

Don’t cut out too many calories.

Start by slowly cutting down till you see how your body reacts.

When starting out counting macros it is important to note that you may have to play around with the right percentages of carbs, protein and fat levels to find the right ratio for you. As I said earlier, everyone is different and may require a different macro breakdown.

For beginners a good macro split is 40:35:25 That is 40% carbs, 35% protein and 25% fats.

This is where myfitness pal makes life easier and counts you macros for you.

Time to give you an example. Lets use a female who needs to eat 2000 calories per day to lose weight. That 2000 calories can now be split to 800 calories for carbs (40%), 700 calories of protein (35%) and that leaves us to eat 500 calories of fat (25%). Now we know that their are 4 calories per 1g of carbs so we can now workout that you need to consume 200g of carbs per day. 175g of protein (4 calories) and finally 55g of fat (9 calories).

Good Carbohydrate Sources:

  • Oats
  • Sweet potato
  • Brown rice
  • All veggies
  • All fruits
  • Wholemeal breads
  • Cereals

Good Protein Sources:

  • Chicken, lean beef, fish
  • Egg Whites
  • Cottage cheese
  • Plain Greek yoghurt
  • Protein powder
  • Tofu, tempeh

Good Fat Sources:

  • All nuts and nut butters
  • Avocado
  • Seeds
  • Egg yolks
  • Oils
  • Cheese
  • Dark chocolate

Stick to the plan for 2-3 weeks and then i suggest taking a few body measurements and tracking your weight and body fat and making adjustments to your macros as your results change. If you’re getting great results then don’t change anything, just enjoy the buff new body you have.

My parting words of advice; It’s no good counting macros if you just want to be healthy, and your focus is not on looking shredded. As I said earlier, workout what suits you and your body and do it well. Counting macros is not for everyone but hey, if you have the discipline, have a go.