How to Count Macros a Step by Step Guide
“Counting macros” is commonly used by individuals looking to gain muscle mass or shed weight. Counting macros entails keeping track of the food types you take and the calories you consume to attain certain macronutrient and calorie goals.
In this article, we will provide you with a guide that you can use to count macros and achieve your macronutrient goals.
What are Macros?
These are macronutrients that fall under three categories. The categories are:
These include fibers, starches, and sugars. Your body breaks down most carbohydrates into blood sugar or glucose and either store them as glycogen in your muscles or liver or uses them immediately to provide energy. The most common carbohydrates sources include dairy products, fruits, grains, beans, and starchy vegetables, among others.
One gram of carbohydrates provides four calories, and they are the largest source of calories that people consume. Although different health organizations have different macronutrient recommendations, most suggest that the average person should get 45-65% of their daily calorie intake from carbohydrates.
Proteins are essential for body processes such as building enzymes, hormones, tissues, immune function, and cell signaling. Like carbohydrates, 1 gram of proteins provides four calories. You should ensure that 10-35% of your total daily calories intakes are from proteins. Foods rich in proteins include lentils, tofu, fish, poultry, and eggs, among others.
Of all the macronutrients, fats have the most calories, with one gram having nine calories. The human body requires fat for critical functions such as body temperature maintenance, nutrient absorption, and hormone production and energy. The typical fats macronutrient recommendation is between 20-35% of total calories. They are found in fatty fish, butter, oils, meat, nuts, and avocados, among others.
What is a Macro Calculator?
It is an equation that allows you to calculate your body’s daily macronutrient requirements based on your daily activity levels and weight.
The Best Macro Calculators
1.TDEE, KETO, Calorie Macro Calculator
It is among the best macro calculators and allows you to calculate the macronutrients’ ratio that your body needs based on your weight, age, height, activity level, and gender. Furthermore, you can choose your goal, whether it is “Gain Weight,” “Lose Weight,” or “Maintain Weight.”
It shows you your basal metabolic rate (BMR), calories per day to gain or lose weight, body mass index (BMI), and calories deficit or surplus. You can find it here
It is a free macro calculator that calculates the ratio of macronutrients you should consume based on your activity level, weight, height, gender, and age. It allows you to customize your ratio depending on your specific needs at the moment, such as whether you want to gain or maintain weight, lose 10% body fat, or reduce your weight. It allows you to see your ratio in terms of five meals, four meals, three meals, or all day. You can check it out here.
3.Muscle for Life
It is a free and detailed calculator that considers your activity level, body fat percentage, and weight. It then determines your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), basal metabolic rate (BMR), and lean body mass (LBM).
Since this calculator considers more factors, it provides you with a more accurate ratio. However, before using this calculator, you must know your body composition. It allows you to choose whether you want to lose, maintain or gain weight. Moreover, it has sliders at the bottom for adjusting your ratio if you find the automatic recommendation unideal for you. You can check it out here.
How to Figure Out Your Caloric Needs?
To determine the overall calories your body needs, it is essential to determine the non-resting energy expenditure (NREE) and resting energy expenditure (REE). Adding both NREE and REE gives you the total calories your body burns in one day.
Use the TDEE, KETO, Calorie Macro Calculator to figure out your body’s daily calorie needs.
Alternatively, here is the Mifflin-St. Jeor equation that you can use:
- Calories per day in Women = 6.25 * height (cm) + 10 * weight (kg) – age (y) + 5 * 5
- Calories per day in Men = 6.25 * height (cm) + 10 * weight (kg) – age (y) – 161 * 5
After this, you multiply an activity factor with your result. It is a numerical value that represents various activity levels:
- Extra active: * 1.9 (two or more times of strenuous exercise per day)
- Very active: * 1.725 (hard exercises every day)
- Moderately active: * 1.55 (moderate exercise for four or more days per week)
- Lightly active: * 1.375 (light exercises for not more than three days in a week)
- Sedentary: * 1.2 (limited exercise)
Your answer gives you your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). To reach different goals, you can opt to either subtract or add calories from your TDEE.
How to Decide Your Ideal Macro Breakdown?
Here, you determine the macronutrient’s ratio that works best for you. Below are the macronutrients recommendation by most health organizations:
- Proteins: 10-35% of total calories
- Fats: 20-35% of total calories
- Carbs: 45-65% of total calories
It is important to note that the above recommendations may not be ideal for your particular needs. The macronutrient ratio varies depending on your goals to lose weight, the diet you prefer, among other factors.
Macro Calculator | Keto IIFYM Low Carb
Text Book 10%
|GRAMS per day||280.3||0||0||0 - 0||1121|
|GRAMS per meal||93.4||0||0||0 - 0||374|
How to Track Your Calories and Macro Intake?
If you fail to put your macro numbers to use, they are not that helpful. “Tracking macros” is the process of logging all foods you consume throughout the day and breaking down the macronutrients ratio to make sure you consume calories and macronutrients in a way that will help you achieve your goals.
The Best Macro Trackers
There are many macro trackers available out there to suit the needs of different people. Below are some of the best macro trackers:
It is a macro tracker that users can use for free or subscribe per month for a fee of $9.99.
Its free version only allows percentages and restricts users from entering gram amounts for macronutrients. It is among the best free macro trackers due to its massive database of drinks and foods and barcode scanning feature.
Its Premium package enables users to track macros by percentages and gram amounts and see the breakdown of macros for each snack and meal. Moreover, it offers other superior features such as weekly reports, food timestamps, and food analyses.
You can check it out here.
This is another fantastic app loaded with a large food database. It also has a barcode scanning function that allows you to scan barcodes off food products for analysis of the ingredients.
Besides, the app allows you to track your body weight as well as add custom food recipes for homemade meals reducing the need to manually log the individual ingredients. The best thing about this app is that you can access it without the internet. It is possible for you to track your food intake when offline.
Tip: The food database is essential, but it’s crucial to know how to use it. It often contains multiple entries containing different information about the same food item. It can be pretty confusing. Therefore, it might be better if you logged in your food’s macronutrients instead of using the default food database. You can check it out here.
Pricing: Costs $2.99 to download, and $5.99 per month. It also has a free version available.
Cronometer is another great app best for tracking macros, vitamins, and minerals in meals. The app also allows keeping track of the essential biometrics like your cholesterol levels, blood pressure, sleep cycle, pulse, mood, and many more. However, you will have to read some information to access these extra features.
If you are equipped with this information, Cronometer will give you an insight into your long-term trends, allowing you to have a clear snapshot of your health in general. It is an impressive app but can be a bit overwhelming for people whose only goal is to track macros.
You can check it out here.
Why Should I Track My Macros?
It is worth noting that you don’t necessarily have to keep track of your macros to live a healthy life, or lose weight, gain muscle, or achieve any other health goal that you have. In actuality, you only have to track macros should your doctor tell you to do that. Furthermore, keeping a record of everything you eat is tedious, frustrating, and time-consuming. However, making tracking a habit is great because it equips you with a skill of eyeballing portions of everything you eat, ultimately keeping your rations healthy.
Tracking macros is definitely essential in some cases, such as when you are in preparations for a bodybuilding show, or preparing for an athletic performance. It can also come in handy if you want to implement “flexible dieting” or you practicing to eat any food you want just as long as it befits your set macronutrients ratio.
Keeping count of your macros can also be useful when your practicing to reduce the consumption of processed foods because packaged and processed food have high amounts of carbs and fats and low levels of protein, which adds more to superfoods. Most people who aim at losing weight often aim at creating a calorie deficit in their meals and opt to count their macronutrient intake rather than tracking their calorie intake. The technique comes in handy when they want to remove the focus from weight loss and concentrating it on healthy and nutritive eating. It is a useful technique in developing long-term healthy eating habits.
Besides, a lot of people enjoy the habit of tracking macros as it allows them to get an idea of what foods work best for them, and which foods do not. You can give counting macros a try to see if it fits into your lifestyle. However, do not feel pressured in any way to track your macros.
What are the Benefits of Counting Macronutrients?
1.It Helps You Improve Your Diet Quality
Keeping track of macronutrients can be resourceful in changing your focus from the food’s calorie content to the food’s quality. For example, having a bowl of sweet cereals may have equal calories to a bowl of oats topped with pumpkin seeds and berries, but the two meals can have a difference in the macronutrient content.
By counting macronutrients, you will be able to choose healthier meals, with nutrient density with the aim of achieving the required body macronutrient requirements. It is worth noting that even unhealthy foods still can fit into your desired calories and macros. Therefore, it is crucial to make healthy foods a priority.
2.It Promotes Weight Loss
Counting macros is also effective during your weight loss journey as it helps distinguish dietary recommendations. For example, by tracking macros, you can be able to adhere to a high-protein, low-carb diet, a diet plan that is great for weight loss. Furthermore, research depicts that developing a habit of tracking food intake helps in long-term weight maintenance.
3.It Helps You Achieve Your Set Goals
Counting Macros is a popular culture among athletes and other people with set health goals apart from weight loss. For example, those with the aim of building muscle mass require more proteins in their meals than a person aiming at dropping excess body fat.
Therefore, tracking macros is vital for people with set goals that require them to consume set amounts of macros in order to either gain a lean body mass or boost performance. For instance, according to research, resistant-trained athletes might need approximately 1.4 grams of proteins per pound of their body weight (or 3.1 grams per kilogram) to maintain their muscle mass. Therefore, counting macros will help ensure that the macronutrient requirements are achieved.
How to Meet Your Macronutrient Needs
First, it is good to know your body’s macronutrient requirements as it will help in counting the total amount your body needs to achieve a certain goal. However, the general rule is that you will have to reduce foods with high carbs, proteins, or fat. A good illustration is when someone is transitioning to a macronutrient diet normally having 40% carbs, 35% fats, and 25% proteins might need to replace some of those carbs with healthy fats and proteins.
Below are examples of healthy foods best for every macronutrient. Note that some foods might have high levels of a certain macronutrient and can be useful in fulfilling different macro needs.
- Grains such as oats, quinoa, and brown rice
- Whole-meal pasta
- Whole-grain bread
- Milk and yogurt
- Beans, peas, and lentils
- Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, potatoes, or winter squash
- Fruits like bananas, pineapple, apples, and berries.
- Egg whites
- Protein powder
- Egg yolks
- Nuts and butters
- Olive and avocado oils
- Full-fat cheese
- Full-fat yogurt and milk
- Fatty fish such as sardines and salmons
- Chia and flaxseeds
Counting macros is ideal for people who thrive on structure especially if they have some health goals. Tracking macros also helps increase awareness of the amount and quality of food you consume. It is also a good habit for people following high-protein and ketogenic diets. It should serve as a guide to help you eat healthily, and achieve your set health goals.
As seen, counting macros is key to achieving your overall health goals. Do you wish to begin counting your macros? Try our Macro calculator now for better results.