What are Macros, and How Do You Count Them?
Lots of people are just catching on to how effective counting macros can be as a strategy to reach your fitness goals. If you haven’t heard about the macro counting phenomenon, fear not––it’s actually not that complicated. Here’s a quick primer on what macros are and how to count your macros for optimal success.
What are Macros
Before you learn how to count your macros, you first need to know what macros are. Macros, short for macronutrients, are broken into three groups: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. These three nutrients represent the essentials that all people need to eat healthily and to sustain their bodies with nutrition.
(In case you were wondering, there are micronutrients too. Micronutrients are those nutrients that don’t yield calories, including vitamins and minerals.)
The process of counting macros begins with your macro ratio. Different ratios of macros are what will help you achieve different fitness goals.
For instance, if your goal is to lose weight, try a ratio of:
25% carbohydrates / 45% proteins / 30% fats.
If you’re looking to gain mass, you might try something with a different balance:
25% carbohydrates / 50% proteins / 25% fats.
There is no one set ratio that works for everyone. If possible, it’s best to consult a registered dietician when establishing your new dietary plan to make sure you’ve got the right macro ratio that will yield the best results.
Once you’ve worked out your strategy of how to count your macros, it’s time to get down to brass tacks and begin counting your macros for every meal.
How to Count Your Macros
At the end of the day, counting your macros is all about calories. Calories are what count. The whole purpose of singling out and identifying what macros are is to optimize the nutrients you’re putting in your body so you’re getting calories from the healthiest sources.
Here’s a quick calorie breakdown for 1 gram of each macro:
- 1g Carbohydrate = 4 calories
- 1g Protein = 4 calories
- 1g Fat = 9 calories
In a 2,000 calorie diet, if you were following the macro ratio for weight loss we mentioned earlier, you would want your calories to be sourced in this approximate ratio:
25% carbohydrates = 500 g / 45% proteins = 900 g / 30% fats = 600 g
Similarly, if you were looking to gain mass, the ratio would look like this:
25% carbohydrates = 500 g / 50% proteins = 1000 g / 25% fat = 500 g
In order to count your macros, you will need to pay strict attention to nutritional labels and be able to do some quick mental math to discover how many calories something truly has.
For instance, if an item has 37g of carbohydrates, 3g of protein, and 8 g of fat, that would mean it has:
- 37 g from carbohydrate x 4 = 148 calories from carbohydrates
- 3 g from protein x 4 = 12 calories from protein
- 1 g fat x 9 = 9 calories from fat
You can then subtract those macro calorie counts from their corresponding amounts in the ratio.
Counting Macros: The Same, But Different
Those who have tried the Paleo Diet or Weight Watchers will notice some similarities once they learn what macros are. As with those diets, you’ll need to be hyper vigilant about what types of foods you’re putting into your body to be successful with the macros counting approach.
One big difference with counting your macros is that you decide the range you’re targeting rather than having it imposed on you. Remember, your macro ratio is based on your body type and fitness goals. There are plenty of calculators online to help you do this yourself, however, you may want to consider consulting a dietician.
Tips When Counting Macros
Once you learn what macros are and how to manage them, you’ll see how easy it is to customize this approach to your goals, body type, and fitness level to get the results you want, when you want them.
Some people in the fitness industry refer to this method as “flexible dieting” and the name makes sense.
- Always remember to consider how many servings you’re having in relation to the nutritional information listed on the package and adjust accordingly.
- Remember that meals eaten later in the day can have a great impact on weight gain. If you’re trying to lose weight, consider tapering down on carbohydrates later in the day as opposed to earlier for maximal effect.
- To stave off hunger, try leafy greens as a healthy alternative to salty or sugary snacks.
- Learning how to count your macros is all about balance. One major principle to counting macros is the fact that depriving your body of nutrients can be just as detrimental as consuming too much. For instance, cutting down on fat too much can adversely affect hormone production.
Bare Performance Nutrition
What are macros? They could be the most effective way to help you reach your goals. But knowledge is only effective if you use it. Whether you’re looking to increase muscle mass, drop some pounds, or simply manage blood pressure and other health needs, identifying and quantifying macros can be a great strategy.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with this approach and try new recipes to keep things fun and exciting. Shop Bare Performance Nutrition’s online store today to learn more about the best nutrition products to improve performance, build muscle, and lose weight.