Macros! You’ve heard this term everywhere, but maybe you’re not EXACTLY sure what people are talking about when they talk about macros. This post should help clear it up.
“Macros” is short for Macronutrients, which refers to the 3 basic components needed in the human diet. These are protein, carbs and fat.
Tracking macros refers to calculating how much your body needs of each component, then tracking the macronutrient content of everything you eat.
Tracking macros is good if you are confused on how much of each macro you should be eating or if you’re trying to dial in your nutrition and cut weight.
There are more complex ways to calculate macros, but I’m aiming for simplicity in these first posts for people who are just starting their nutrition journey. For someone who is trying to lose fat and not doing an intense workout program, start with your macros around here…
Protein per day = .75 x body weight
Carbohydrates = 1 x body weight (if you weigh more than 200lbs, keep it to 200 or less)
Fat= .5 x body weight (slightly less is ok, just make sure you’re getting it from healthy sources like olive oil/avocados, etc…)
For example, if you weighed 128 lbs, you would be eating 96 grams of protein, around 128 grams of carbs on low intensity or no exercise days and around 192 grams of carbs on days that you work out. Your fat would be around 64g.
If even using this seems overwhelming, start by simply adding protein to each of your meals and seeing if you can eventually hit your protein goal. If you’re trying to cut weight, stick to mostly lean cuts of meat, like chicken breast. Protein will keep you full and leave less room for you to be hungry for carbs (if overeating carbs is an issue for you).
Once you have your protein in check, start paying attention to your carbs. Remember complex carbs (ex: grains, veggies) break down slower than simple carbs (ex: candy, coke) so focus on eating those if you feel like you’re eating enough protein and still craving junk food.
Finally, start paying attention to where you’re getting your servings of fat. Coconut oil, Olive oil, and Avocado oil are good ways of easily adding healthy fat to your diet.
Every 2 weeks, weigh yourself (if you’re not lifting heavy/building a lot of muscle), you should see your weight decreasing. If not, slightly lower the carbs and repeat the process the next 2 weeks. Also track how you’re feeling. If you’re hitting all your goals, but still feel hungry, up the protein. If after a few 2-week periods you’re starting to feel really tired/weak during workouts, maybe you cut your carbs too low and you can slowly start increasing them to find a good balance of weight loss while still having energy.
Can I eat whatever I want?
Technically, yes, but if you think about the amount of carbs in a donut vs. a bowl of broccoli, you will notice that you will be able to have a lot less of a donut than you will of the broccoli. Also, you’ll probably be left feeling hungry if you do that too often. I personally don’t completely buy into “if it fits in your macros” because even though eating crap within your macro goals might not make you gain weight, I believe the focus should be less about weight and more about being healthy. You can be skinny and unhealthy.
On that note, if you want a cookie, have the cookie. It’s not a problem if it’s not making you spiral out of control and eat an entire box of them. Ideally, you will have your sugar cravings under control so you can enjoy treats in a healthy manner. If you want more info on breaking your sugar addiction, you can read my blog post on sugar here .
What’s the best way to track?
There are a ton of resources out there to track your macros. The easiest way that’s free is MyFitnessPal. On MyFitnessPal you can plug in food ahead of time to figure out what you need to eat to hit your macro goals. I have also included a link to a (cheap!) kitchen scale, which is the most accurate way to measure how much of each food your eating.
This was a quick and dirty on macros, so if you want to know anything more specific, or have any questions, please feel free to contact me!