April 17, 2024

Have you noticed how more people, whether they are your coworker or neighbor who is health-conscious and loves bodybuilding, talk about “counting macros?”

If you haven’t done any internet research, it is likely that “counting macros”, despite its increasing popularity, is still unclear. Here’s a quick rundown.

Jessica Levinson is a culinary nutritionist in Westchester, New York. She says that macronutrients provide the body with energy. Levinson says that macronutrients are carbohydrates, protein, and fat.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, when you count macros you are tallying up how many grams you consume of carbohydrates, protein, and fat.

Discover more about counting macros, and whether or not you should be keeping track of them.

What are macronutrients?

Macronutrients serve as the building blocks for the body as well as a source of energy. Protein, carbohydrates, and fat are the three macronutrients. Macronutrients are the calories or energy that we consume.

Protein and carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram. Fat has 9 calories per 1 gram.

Some examples:

  • 200 grams of chicken breast equals 225 calories, 45 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fat
  • Sweet potato 100g = 88 calories, 20 grams carbs, and 2 grams protein
  • 20 grams of natural nut butter contains 126 calories, 5 grams of protein, and 4 grams of carbs.

Water is also a macronutrient, but has no calories. Alcohol is a calorie-rich substance that does not belong to protein, carbohydrates, or fat. In the next section, we will talk about alcohol.

Many foods contain two or all three macronutrients. If you’re unsure, reading the nutrition label can help you understand how different foods are broken down.

Here’s a quick overview of each macronutrient, including some of its functions in the body. It is not a comprehensive list but you can see that it’s very important to include all macronutrients.

How do you count Macros?

People will have different macronutrient targets depending on what they eat and how much exercise they get. The U.S. The Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Dietary Guide for Americans recommends that women between the ages of 31 and 50 aim for these macronutrient percentages.

  • Carbohydrates provide 45 to 65 percent of calories
  • Fats are responsible for 20 to 35 percent of calories
  • Protein provides 10 to 35 percent of calories

If a woman ages 31-50 tries to consume 1,800 calories a day, she might choose to get 810 calories (45%) from carbohydrates and 630 calories (35%) from fat. She would also want 360 calories (20%) from protein.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, carbohydrates typically have 4 calories for every gram. Fats usually have 9 calories and proteins have 4 calories.

If the same person followed a diet of 1,800 calories, they would want 203 grams of carbohydrates (g), 70 g of fat, and 90 g of protein each day.

You’re correct if it seems complicated. The Cleveland Clinic points out that counting macros can be difficult for some people (although there are apps to simplify the process).

The formula becomes more complex if you wish to customize your numbers. You can, for example, take into account your height, weight, and age when calculating your daily target number of calories (called your “BMR” which can be determined online. This cheat sheet will also give you numbers that are adjusted depending on your daily activity (another thing some people take into account).

Why are there so many people who support this cause? Levinson says that most people who count macros are doing it to lose weight or improve their physical performance.

Levinson explains that in theory, someone trying to lose weight should have more protein than carbs because the protein is a better source of satiation and it takes longer to digest.

Katz, however, thinks this theory is flawed. Katz says that most people believe this theory, which states that achieving a certain macronutrient threshold will promote weight loss and control. He says that this notion is incorrect.

What is the best macro tracking app?

MyFitnessPal, in my opinion, is the best app for macro tracking, regardless of whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced. It has a database with over 11,000,000 foods that you can log. You can also scan barcodes to quickly access packaged food nutrition information. You can save recipes and meals that you prepare frequently to track them quickly.

Five Beginner Tips on Counting Macros

Before you start macro counting, you will want to follow a few steps. As with any diet, you should first consult your doctor or dietitian.

1. Figure Out Your Macro Goals

Your diet will determine how many macronutrients per day you require. According to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

2. Calculate Your Calorie Target

You’ll want to consume 1,800 calories a day if you are a woman between the ages of 31 and 50. This is what the USDA recommends for women within this age range.

3. Calculate Your Macro Needs

Time to do a little math! If you consume 1,800 calories a day on the ketogenic diet, then you will want to get about 1,260 of those calories from fat (70%), 180 from carbohydrates (10%), and 360 from proteins (20%).

According to the Cleveland Clinic, this is equivalent to 140 g of fat, 45 grams of carbohydrates, and 90 grams of protein. This is based upon the assumption that carbohydrates contain 4 calories per grain, fats 9 calories per grain, and protein 4 calories per milligram.

4. You can make it easier by downloading an app

You’ll need to calculate your macros every day if you want to continue counting them. This includes the breakdown of carbs, protein, and fats in your breakfast yogurt or dinner curry. Apps can help people who don’t want to do the math or have time.

5. Diet Reconsidered

It is difficult to count macros, and their benefits have not been proven. What should you do instead? Katz says that Michael Pollan’s advice can be summed up in seven words: “Eat food, but not too much. Eat mostly plants.” He says, “Get your food right and let macro- and, for the most, micro-nutrients take care of themselves.”

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