What Are Macros and How Can They Help You Achieve Your Fitness Goals?
I’m sure you’ve heard the term “macros” plenty of times before. Maybe you’re not really sure what they are, or just figured they aren’t really that important when it comes to diet. However, macros are the main building blocks to every food/drink you consume, and is a huge factor to consider when it comes to weight loss, weight gain, or to maintain.
In this post, I’m going to:
- Introduce to you what macros are
- Help you understand why they are important to know about & be aware of
- Explain to you how to know the right amount to consume
- The difference between flexible dieting and tracking macros
- Give you the benefits of tracking your macros
- Give you a reference to a FREE macro calculator to calculate your macros accordingly
What are Macros?
The term “macro” comes from the word macronutrient. There are 3 macronutrients, which are the main nutrients we consume; protein, carbohydrates, & fats. Macronutrients are basically the building blocks of nutrition, as they supply us with our calories. Micronutrients are your vitamins and minerals that you consume that are essential for good health, but don’t add up to any calories when consumed.
Protein is the primary source that helps fuel and build muscle. It also helps with building and repairing your organs, skin and blood, and also helps with hormones. Protein comes from various meats and fish, poultry, legumes, dairy, and also nuts and seeds. 1 gram of protein = 4 calories. So say you eat 25 grams of protein from chicken. That would mean you consumed 100 calories from protein.
Carbs are a source of fuel or energy for your body. It comes from grains, vegetables, legumes, dairy and fruit. Carbohydrates are also 4 calories per 1 gram. So for example, if you eat 25 grams of carbs from potatoes, you consumed 100 calories through carbohydrates.
Fat can also provide your body with energy and helps protect your bones and organs. There are different kinds of fats. Saturated fats are the unhealthy kind that you find in cakes, donuts (sad face), cookies, and processed foods. You can find the healthy, unsaturated fats in avocados, nuts and seeds, oils, and fatty fish. Fat contains more calories per gram than protein or carbs. For fat, 1 gram of fat = 9 calories. Meaning, if you consume 10 grams of fat from walnuts, you’ve consumed 90 calories from your fat intake.
PROTEIN + CARBOHYDRATES + FAT = TOTAL CALORIC INTAKE
How do you know the right amount of each to consume?
This all really depends on your health and fitness goals, however, the general recommended range of each macro is:
- Protein: 10-35%
- Carbohydrates: 45-65%
- Fat: 20-35%
Now, keep in mind, that this varies and these percentages are just a general and healthy estimation. If you want REAL results, you need to configure these numbers to match your goals and diet. If your goal is to lose fat, you need to make sure you burn more calories than you consume. You also need to make sure you consume enough protein, especially if you are weight training to help build muscle. If you are on a lower carb diet such as Atkins, your percentages will be altered. For example, if you are on the Keto diet (Low carb, high fat), your percentages would be around 15% Protein, 5% Carbohydrates, and 80% Fat. It all depends on your health and fitness goals.
Isn’t the term “flexible dieting” the same as tracking macros?
The answer is no, not at all! Though the two terms are usually seen together and can go hand in hand, they are very different. Flexible dieting is when you can still eat a variety of different foods, as long as they fit into your macros. Meaning if you are craving some ice cream, you can eat that as long as the numbers fit into your macro intake for the day. A lot of people like this diet because it feels less restrictive and you can still have foods you enjoy in moderation as long as you fit them into your daily macro numbers. However, you can still track macros even if you aren’t flexible dieting. You can eat “clean” (the boring chicken and rice diet) and still track your macros to make sure you are hitting the right amounts of proteins, carbs and fats. If you are doing the Keto diet, you can also track your macros to help track progress. So flexible dieting is a type of diet, however, you can track your macros with any diet you decide to go on. The idea for tracking your macros is to monitor your progress, no matter what your health and fitness goals are.
What are the benefits to tracking macros?
Helps you track your caloric intake
When you enter in everything you eat, it helps you keep track of your total caloric intake for the day. This helps you see everything you’ve ate that day, and also previous days to make sure you’re consuming enough food/calories or not going over your caloric intake.
Helps you make sure you’re eating the right amount of each macro
When you track all of your food, you will be able to see all the nutrition info and will show you how much of each macro you consume. That way it will be easier for you to reach your macro and calorie numbers.
Helps you lose weight
Since you have to track and input everything you consume, you will be aware of how many calories you consume, which if you have given yourself a calorie deficit, and you don’t go over your macros and calories, it will ensure in weight loss.
You are more likely to stick to your diet
Because tracking your macros can be a more flexible way of dieting, meaning you can still throw in the things you enjoy eating with moderation and if they fit your numbers, you will be more likely to stick to your diet as it won’t seem as hard when you still get to enjoy a variety of foods you enjoy.
You can still eat out and stay within your macros
You can still enjoy eating a meal out, and don’t have to worry too much about it. Most restaurant’s nutrition facts for meals can be found online or on meal tracking apps, so all you have to do is search for it, make sure it is within your macros, and then track it! No more bringing Tupperware full of chicken and broccoli with you if you want to eat out with friends just to stick to your diet!!
How to track your macros
Firstly, you’ll need to figure out what your macros are. CLICK HERE to calculate your individual macros based on your current statistics. After you’ve gotten your calorie and macro numbers, you’ll need to have a platform to track them on. You could do the old fashioned paper and pencil way, however, that takes up wayyyy too much of your time in my opinion! If you are like most people now days, we are all about convenience. There are plenty of apps that take all the guess work out of it, and even let you scan the bar code of the item you are inputting, then you just have to type in the amount you consumed.
Here are some of my favorite macro tracking apps:
After you’ve downloaded your app, just input your statistics such as weight, height, age, and if you want to lose, maintain, or gain weight. Usually you can customize the ratio of your macros according to your diet for your total intake. Then, you just get to tracking! Scan or input everything you consume, including meals, condiments, water intake, or any other liquids!
It might feel like a lot to keep up with at first, however, after a couple days you will get used to it and it will become natural for you to track all of your meals throughout the day. You can even plan out your days ahead of time! Just input the foods and meals you’re going to eat the following days, and then voila! You don’t even have to do anything unless you add something to it that day!
I hope this post has helped you understand what macros are, the benefits, and how to start tracking! Feel free to ask me any questions you may have about it! I’ve tracked macros in the past and am doing it currently now as well! Have you ever tracked macros before? Is this your first time? I want to know! Comment down below!
Have fun tracking, and stay fit and fabulous!
Need to calculate your macros? CLICK HERE! to get the link to calculate and get started!