Counting Macros Made Easy!

Starting on the road to weight loss can be a little daunting, especially when you try to incorporate counting calories and macros into your fitness plan! For most people, counting macros isn’t exactly second nature and can be tricky, especially when you're in the middle of the supermarket reading the back of boxes, trying to choose the right snacks for the week.
Posted on Feb 09, 2021 By Georgia Marr Georgia Marr

Counting macros is traditionally used by people attempting to build muscle or drop weight fast. The process involves understanding the food that you are consuming and accurately balancing your macronutrient ratios.

Each person is completely different, which means each person will have completely different macro goals. For someone trying to lose weight, you’re carb intake might be lower while people trying to build muscle, could be the opposite.

So, what are macronutrients?

Macronutrients can be broken down into four separate nutrients. Your intake for each one of these nutrients will differ as per your goals, age, size and weight.

Fats

The word fat is jam-packed with negative connotations, but fats don’t have to be bad, especially when they are consumed in healthy quantities. It may come as a surprise, but fats are one of the most important macronutrients our bodies need to survive.

Our bodies require fat for vital body functions including absorbing nutrients and hormone production, however, fats do hold nine calories per gram which makes them the heaviest in calories of all three macronutrients.

It’s important to note that there are bad types of fat which you should try to avoid, like the kind you might find in fast food; it’s the good types of fat we should aim to incorporate into our diet including nuts, avocados and meats.

Carbohydrates

Carbs are not always our friend, especially if we are consuming them in excess, although, if we aim to incorporate the right amount, carbs will act as our bodies main source of energy.

At four calories per gram, the right amount of carbs will eventually break down and become glucose, which our body either uses or stores as energy. What we don’t want, is for the carbs we eat to pack our livers with unwanted glucose which can eventually lead to liver damage.

Some of the good carbs we should aim to incorporate into our diets include oats, bananas kidney beans, blueberries and more.

Proteins

At four calories per gram, proteins help to promote a healthy immune system, hormone production and more. Surprisingly, although low in calories, we shouldn’t be consuming too much protein. This is dependent on your overall health goals, however, over consumption of protein could result in dehydration which can lead to damage to the kidneys later down the track.

If you are looking to include more protein in your diet, simple food such as greek yoghurt, chicken breast and tofu are healthy, protein rich sources!

Counting your Macros 

To get an accurate macro reading, you first need to establish how many calories you consume and burn day to day; this is described as your resting energy expenditure and your non-resting energy expenditure.

Resting expenditure outlines how many calories you burn while you’re doing very little to no activity, while your non-resting expenditure is exactly the opposite – how many calories you’re burning while active.

By working these out, you will then be able to determine the amount of calories you burn daily (your total daily energy expenditure). There are a couple of ways to work this out, either through an online calorie calculator or through a long-winded equation.

The long-winded equation (a.k.a Mifflin-St. Jeor equation):  

For women: 10 x your weight in kilos + 6.25 x your height in centimetres – 5 x your age – 161.

For men: 10 x your weight in kilos + 6.25 x your height in centimetres – 5 x your age + 5.

Then you need to multiply this number by an activity level (hot tip… be honest!):

Limited activity: x 1.2

A little active: x 1.375 (2-3 days per week)

Moderate: x 1.55 (4-5 days per week)

Active: x 1.725 (every day)

Extremely active: x 1.9 (two or more times per day)

Once you have multiplied the two numbers, you will have your total daily energy expenditure. Obviously, this number is not set in stone, so if you were wanting to shed a few extra kilos, simply subtract some of those calories so that your overall intake is lower.

Find a macro breakdown that suits you 

This is when you need to figure out your ideal macro ratio which essentially tells you how much of each nutrient to should be aiming to consume to reach your health targets.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends these particular ratios:

Fats: 20 -35% of total calorie intake

Carbohydrates: 45 – 65% of total calorie intake

Proteins: 10 – 35% of total calorie intake

Like I said earlier, these numbers are not set in stone, so if you are hoping to shed weight, consider dropping your carb intake. You must also consider what type of diet you are on, for example if you’re a vegetarian, you need to ensure you are still consuming enough protein!

Stay on top of your intake

Tracking your macros is possibly the easiest part BUT is arguably the most important. Understanding what you are eating and whether you are consuming the recommended amount of macronutrients is vital for meeting health and weight loss goals.

There are super easy ways to track your macros and calories, mostly through the use of handy (and free) macro apps such as MyFitnessPal, MyPlate & LoseIt!

My personal fave is MyFitnessPal, which makes inputting all of your macro information too easy. All you need to do is scan the barcode of whatever treat you’re munching down on and the app will automatically input all of the relevant macro information into your daily food diary.

If you’d rather work out your macros the old-school way, I’ve gone ahead and provided an example below. You can jot this information down in a macro diary, but in order to keep on top of your goals, try to make sure you stay diligent and remember to log every meal!

This example will be based on a person trying to shed weight with a 1500 calorie intake, 30 percent fat, 35 percent carbs and 35 percent protein.

Daily carbs:

At four calories per gram, 35 percent of 1500 calories = 525 calories per day.

Total grams of carbs per day is 525, divided by 4 calories = 131.25 grams of carbs per day.

Daily protein:

At four calories per gram, 35 percent of 1500 calories = 525 calories per day.

Total grams of protein per day is 525, divided by 4 calories = 131.25 grams of protein per day.

Daily fats:

At nine calories per gram, 30 percent of 1500 calories = 450 calories per day.

Total grams of fat per day is 450, divided by 9 calories = 50 grams of fat per day.

So, to summarise, this person’s macro count should include a daily intake of 131.25 grams of carbs, 131.25 grams of protein and 50 grams of fat.

It doesn’t have to be hard keeping track of what we eat, all we need is the right formula as well as a healthy dose of motivation and we have everything we need to reach our health and fitness goals!

Georgia Marr
Georgia Marr
Gold Coast based Journalist, entertainment writer and lover of a good story with a penchant for food and beverage writing.

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