If you’re an avid fitness ‘follower’, like I am - using Instagram as the main stalking app - you’ll notice that a lot of fitness figures are “counting macros” more and more.
As a newbie to the fitness world - I had no idea what ‘macros’ were all about and why it was becoming such a big thing. I always figured it was just something bodybuilders did (stereotyping right there).
These are the bare basics to it - not inclusive of the detailed calculations - but a way for you (and I) to get to know a little more about counting your macros. Because from the sounds of it - it’s just like ‘clean eating’ just with a fancier name - right? No. Counting your macros takes clean eating to the next level. Taking in healthy choices but also calculating each bite to the most precise number as possible.
WHAT ARE MACROS?
First things first, ‘Macros’ is just short for ‘Macronutrients’ - which is composed of carbohydrates, protein and fats - the most important food groups in everyone’s daily diet. Macros are important if you want to achieve your ideal body goal - something that is shaped just for you. Whether it’s losing, gaining or even maintaining your ideal weight.
All calories that you consume come from macronutrients. Vitamins, minerals, sodium and so forth, are micro-nutrients and do not contain calories, ONLY proteins, fats, carbs and booze yield calories.
That’s pretty basic, right? Now, on to the important part - what does ‘Counting Macros’ mean?
HOW DO I COUNT MY MACROS?
The most basic breakdown to this is “40/40/20” (these are just example numbers) which basically means that you’ll be distributing 40% of your daily calorie intake to 40% protein, 40% carbohydrates and 20% fats. You can either divide this evenly in your meal portions or you could have different portions throughout the day, which then equals to 40/40/20 at the end of the day. But, your macro percentage can vary based on your set goals and daily calorie intake.
COUNTING MACROS VS CALORIES
It pretty much sounds like it’s the same thing - and if you’re looking at numbers - it pretty much is. You can and will lose weight if you consume less calories than what your body is burning - we all know that. But when it comes to counting macros - you’re calculating QUALITY weight loss. Not just cutting down your calories for weight-loss - but adding the right amounts of protein, carbs and fats to keep your body lean.
HOW DO I TRACK MY MACROS?
There are several apps available to help you with counting macros - popular ones include, MyFitnessPal and LifeSum. These apps help you keep track of all your food intake as well as breakdowns of your specific percentage of macros.
One thing you’re going to have to start doing (pretty religiously) is to actually read the labels on all your foods (can’t look at just the ‘low-fat’ description anymore). Looking at the labels on your food is the easiest way to get the numbers BUT, what happens if you’re cooking meat or fresh produce from the market? Then you might want to get yourself a food scale (if you’re willing to go all the way) - it shouldn’t be too expensive. It’s the easiest way to start calculating your food at home.
HOW DO I GET STARTED?
Apart from getting your math on point - the first rule in getting into this macro-managing routine is to break down all the calories that your body needs in order to lose, gain or maintain your weight. You can use a BMR calculator to get you a rough number - but to get a proper and more suitable breakdown of the percentage, you might want to visit a nutritionist. From there, it’s all about measuring your meals equally and evening out your portions according to your needs.
Though, at the end of the day - counting your macros is basically balancing your clean eating (this is not an excuse to eat a couple of slices of pizza) habits with a little more calculation than usual. What you put in your body is still important - just that there is a lot of math required.
Now that you’ve heard the basics - are you ready for some macro-managing?