You may have heard the term “macros” floating around lately and not really sure what it means. So many people are talking about counting their macros to reach their goal of fat loss, muscle gain or just general health. Whatever your goals might be, it might be beneficial to give it a shot. Here’s a little info on what they are and why you might want to count them.
The term “macros” is the shortened word for macronutrients. There are three macronutrients and some say a fourth but that’s an entirely different discussion.
Carbohydrates- A major energy source for you body that is stored in your liver and muscle. Examples of carbohydrates include; fruit, potato, rice, oatmeal, veggies, bread and sugar.
Fat- Fat is another energy source but most importantly is crucial for hormone function and vitamin absorption. Examples include; oils, avocado, nuts and butter.
Protein- Proteins help us build muscle and create hormones and enzymes. Proteins include; poultry, eggs, red meat and fish.
Three macronutrients make up your total calories.
1 gram of protein = 4 calories
1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories
1 gram of fat = 9 calories
With this bit of info, it’s time to do a little math. Let’s say for lunch you had a turkey sandwich so we can break it down to show your macros and your total calories. I am finding the amounts by just reading the labels.
Using the amount of calories per gram listed above it looks like this:
3 oz turkey = 16g of protein. (16 x 4 cal) = 64 calories
2 slices of bread = 30g of carbs. (30 x 9 cal) =120 calories
1 T Mayo = 10g of fat. (10 x 9 cal) = 90 calories
(MACROS) Carbs: 30 Protein: 16 Fat: 10
Calories = 274
Now the question is… should you count your macros?
The macro-counting method gives you great flexibility throughout the day and nothing is off limits which sounds great. BUT it’s easy to get carried away. Let’s say that you set your macros to equal 2000 cal/day. Technically, you could choose to not eat anything all day and then devour a burrito bigger than your head at the end of the day. Is that healthy though? You still have to be disciplined and choose nutritious foods to total up to that number.
If you can keep that reigned in, this method is a great way to have moderation. If you have a birthday or celebration- eat the cake. Just track it. If you are craving a candy bar- eat it. Just track it. Those totals of carbs, fat and protein for the day should be close to your goals at the end of the day. But like I said, this doesn’t mean you eat those things every day, it just means you aren’t depriving yourself of anything because as we all know, once something is forbidden we just want it more.
In my opinion this is the easiest nutrition plan to stick to long term. Can we just agree to stop chasing fad diets, doing cleanses and 30 day whatever’s? Just stop it. If those things worked, you wouldn’t be reading this right now. This isn’t a diet, it’s not temporary and not a quick fix. Sometimes you’ll be spot on, and some days you’ll be way off - and that's okay. It’s more about the BIG picture of how you did over the course of a year, a few years…. your life. If you can stay within and average of 80% of your numbers, that’s pretty great.
And now the biggest question. How much do you need?
It’s best to work with someone on this to be as precise as you can but if you need something generic to get you started, here it is. You can start by multiplying your bodyweight by 12 for weight-loss and 14 for maintenance.
For example, if you weigh 150lbs:
(Goal is to lose) 150 x 12 = 1800 cal
(Goal is to maintain) 150 x 14 = 2100 cal.
You can set your needed grams of protein as your weight, so you would eat 150g. of protein.
Going back to math class, this equals 600 cal. If you take that off of your 1800 you have 1200 cal to divide between your fat and carbs.
Make sense? The grams of carbs or fat can move around as long as the calorie total equals your set goal of 1800.
Too much to think about?
That’s what we are here for. We are happy to set these numbers for you and be able to get a little more precise than these generic formulas.. Once these are set, we will meet weekly to keep you accountable and adjust those numbers as needed depending on how you are responding.
If you are looking to change your body composition in any way, the biggest factor is nutrition. One hour in the gym per day can’t compensate for poor decisions made the other 23 hours you’re outside of it.
Email us to find out how we can help you get set up on a successful, maintainable nutrition plan.
Look what happens when you find something that is sustainable and you can stick to!