The Magic of Counting Macros

Counting calories is only tracking numbers for weight loss, gain, or maintenance. Counting macros helps you track your nutrition and overall health.

When you want to reach or keep a certain weight, you’ll want to do more than just count calories every time you eat a meal or a snack. While counting calories lets you monitor your energy intake and helps you ensure that you burn enough energy throughout the day, keeping track of calories doesn’t give you a detailed picture of nutritional intake.

To track the nutrition in your diet, you need to count macronutrients. As the building blocks of your food, every calorie you eat breaks down into one of the three types of macros: fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Discover the magic of counting macros and find out how tracking them can help you gain, maintain, or lose weight.

How to Count Macros

Before you begin breaking down your meals into fats, proteins, and carbs, you need to know the numbers behind what you eat. Fats have 9 calories per gram, while carbs and proteins each have 4 calories per gram. To determine your ideal macro intake, you need to know how many calories you need each day.

Start by calculating your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), which is a measure of how much energy your body needs to perform essential tasks plus maintain your activity level. To get this figure, use a TDEE calculator, which takes into account your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and uses an activity multiplier to determine your daily energy needs.

Once you have your TDEE in hand, you can create a diet plan that takes both your caloric needs and your optimal macros into consideration. Depending on your weight-related goals, you’ll want to design a diet that includes a certain percentage of each macro. If this sounds like a lot of math to do on a daily basis, you can use an app for tracking macros, counting calories, and monitoring workouts in one convenient place. All you have to do is input what you eat and how you exercise, and the app will do the rest.

Tracking Macros to Maintain Weight

If you’re already at your ideal weight or if you recently met an important weight-loss goal, you’ll want to maintain your weight. With the right macros, a healthy meal plan, and regular workouts, sticking to your current weight is a goal that’s easily within your reach.

A typical macro ratio for maintaining weight is 40 percent carbs, 30 percent protein, and 30 percent fat. If your TDEE is 2,000 calories per day, you’ll consume about 200 grams of carbs, 150 grams of protein, and 66 grams of fat. Try using a food scale or a macro tracking app to ensure you’re getting the right amount each day.

So what should you eat to get the right macro ratio? It’s up to you. The beauty of tracking macros is that it allows for a flexible diet plan. As long as it fits your macros and doesn’t exceed your calorie count, you can eat it. There’s no need to eliminate entire food groups or restrict what you eat.

You should strive to make nutritious choices, though. Rather than sneaking carb-loaded foods like sugary sweets or fruit juices into your diet, opt for balanced meals instead. Try getting your macros from whole foods, like whole grains, lean meats, nuts and seeds, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Tracking Macros to Lose Weight

When you want to lose weight, first you’ll need to reduce your calorie consumption below your TDEE. Be careful, though. Lowering your calorie count too much can actually slow down your weight loss or compromise your goals altogether. Trying a starvation diet can slow down your metabolism substantially, which causes you to burn fewer calories, lose muscle, and store fat. Along the same lines, adopting a cookie-cutter weight loss plan with a predetermined calorie count won’t take into account your unique needs and could cause setbacks.

To burn fat while building lean muscle, try reducing your TDEE by no more than 20 percent. If you usually need 2,000 calories per day, your weight loss diet plan will reduce your daily calorie count to about 1,600 calories with the same activity level.

Don’t forget to adjust your macros at the same time. Many weight loss plans significantly decrease carbs while significantly increasing protein to help accelerate fat burning. A typical macro ratio for losing weight is 45 percent protein, 35 percent fat, and 25 percent carbs. That equals about 180 grams of protein, 62 grams of fat, and 100 grams of carbs each day.

Remember to fuel your body with as many whole foods as you can while you’re following this low-carb diet plan. Load up on lean meat and fish, whole eggs, full-fat dairy products, healthy oils, fruits and veggies, and gluten-free grains. Skip the starchy carbs like bread and pasta, sugary treats like soda and candy, and anything processed or from a box.

Tracking Macros to Gain Weight

When your goal focuses on gaining weight, building strength, or putting on muscle, you’ll need to recalculate. Rather than cutting calories, you’ll need to increase your energy intake each day. The number of calories you’ll need varies, so try adding 250 to 500 calories to your TDEE each day. If you usually need 2,000 calories, try upping your count to 2,500, and schedule daily gym sessions.

Change up your macros, too. A typical bodybuilding macro ratio is 50 percent carbs, 30 percent protein, and 20 percent fat. That works out to about 310 grams of carbs, 188 grams of protein, and 55 grams of fat each day.

If you want to build muscle, pay close attention to how you time your meals. You’ll want to fuel your body before workouts and immediately after a sweat session, and you’ll also want to keep the calories flowing throughout the day. Focus on nutritious foods and skip the empty calories to ensure that the additional energy you consume goes toward strong muscle and not extra fat.

No matter your weight-related goal, tracking macros can help you stay on the path to success. Count calories and track your macros to get the right amount of energy without skimping on any nutrients.

All of the content and media on Lifesum is created and published for information purposes only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Users should always consult with a doctor or other health care professional for medical advice. If you have or think you are at risk of developing an eating disorder, do not use the Lifesum app and seek immediate medical help.