What are Macros and How Do You Count Them?

August 25, 2020     •     Nutrition

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The phrase “counting macros” is commonly used by members of the health and fitness community, but what does it mean?

The phrase “counting macros” is commonly used by members of the health and fitness community, but what does it mean? What even are macros? How (and why) should you be counting them? Here’s a rundown of everything you need to know about counting macros.

 

What are Macros?

Macros, short for macronutrients, consist of the main categories of nutrients that your body needs to receive energy: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. So, when you count your macros, you are simply counting the amount (usually in grams) of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats that you are eating. The recommendations for how much of each macro you consume change based on a variety of factors, such as age, sex, weight, and level of physical activity. All three macros are essential for different bodily functions and are found in many different foods.

macronutrients

Macro counting enables you to have a better understanding of and more control over the “good” and “bad” calories that you are eating.

  • Proteins are important for many chemical reactions in the body, such as cell signaling, and provide amino acids. According to the National Academy of Medicine, protein should make up 10-35% of your daily calorie intake. They also recommend that you consume about 7 grams of protein for every 20 pounds of body weight. Eggs, meat & poultry, fish, and tofu are all great sources of protein.
  • Carbohydrates are a source of glucose, which is converted to energy that supports many bodily functions and your physical activity. There are healthier sources of carbohydrates (such as whole grains, vegetables, and beans) and some unhealthier sources (such as white bead, soda, and processed foods). Carbohydrates should make up 45-65% of your daily calorie intake.
  • Fats have generally been viewed as harmful for your health, but that is only if you eat an abundance of “unhealthy” fats like trans fats (found in processed foods) and saturated fats (found in red meat and dairy products). However, unsaturated fats (found in vegetable oils, nuts, and fish) are great for your body and even lower your risk for disease. When you cut back on the “bad fats” in your diets, replace them with “good fats.” Fats should make up 20-35% of your daily calorie intake.

Why Should You Count Macros?

Counting macros is like counting calories, but while being a bit more complicated, it lets you see where these calories are coming from. Macro counting enables you to have a better understanding of and more control over the “good” and “bad” calories that you are eating. Counting macros is commonly also referred to as “flexible dieting” since everyone’s macro intake will be different. A frequent acronym used by macro counters is IIFYM, which stands for “If It Fits Your Macros”. This means that you can change around what you eat each day to make it fit your macros. You should count your macros to keep your diet balanced and keep your body healthy, as well as cut body fat and maintain muscle mass. You can eat healthier, lose weight, and achieve any other goals you may set for yourself.

Macro counting enables you to have a better understanding of and more control over the “good” and “bad” calories that you are eating.

How Do You Count Macros?

As mentioned before, everyone’s macro count is different. There is no one correct amount of macros to consume or how to keep track. Here is a great tool that calculates your daily Calorie & Macro Needs: Macro Calculator

 

What’s Next?

Once you find how many macros you should be taking in, you need to keep track of them. This is probably the most difficult part, but also the most important. You can keep a personal health journal to jot down the amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats you consume with each meal. You can also use apps such as MyFitnessPal which lets you input your daily goals and your macros as you consume and count them. Remember, you may have to adjust your macro counts as your weight changes; this is why this is such a flexible way to eat healthy! While counting macros isn’t for everyone and can be harmful to some who have previously suffered from eating disorders, it can be a great way to reach your personal health goals and eat healthier.

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