There are a lot of terms thrown around when it comes to nutrition, but one of the most common confusing aspects are macros. Your macros are the major nutrients your body needs to function properly, and there are three major nutrients that make up your macros:
“Counting your macros” is striking the correct balance of fat, protein, and carbohydrates, so you can efficiently burn fat and build muscle. Counting your macros and planning your meals is a bit confusing in the beginning. But we’ll break it down for you:
First: Determine Your Macro Ratio
A nutritionist can do this for you. Or you can do it yourself. But first, you will need to determine the ratio of macros your unique body needs. The ratios will vary depending on what your goals are, so a 6’1” bodybuilder will have a different macro ratio than someone who is 5’4” and looking to lose weight.
Use an online macro calculators. It will ask for information such as:
- Activity level
After you input your information, it will calculate your macro ratios.
Second: Select A Food Tracking Log
Keeping a food journal will help you to keep track of your ingested macronutrients. It’s easy to forget what we have eaten throughout the day. This results in losing track of our macros and over/under eating. A detailed log will also show you problem areas, and help you to stay on schedule.
While you can use a notepad and pen to track your macros, there are many excellent apps/websites resources, which can make tracking less of a chore.
There are free versions of each of these food trackers, which will allow you to track your macros. Their paid services allow you to track micronutrients and more data.
Third: Accurately Track All Of Your Intake
Accuracy in counting your macros is key to weight loss. Many people believe they can eyeball food and accurately guess the macro breakdown. While some people become good at this after months of practice, most people need help to accurately track their intake in their food log.
You may find through intake tracking that you are consuming too many simple sugars and accidentally going over your carbohydrate macro goal. Or that you are severely underestimating the fat content in your food. To become an accurate macro-tracker, you will need several tools to measure your food.
- Nutritional label – A quick and easy way to find the macros in many foods is to read the nutrition label. If you are cooking with multiple ingredients, it is even more important to track the macros of each ingredient. However, there are plenty of foods that do not come with a nutrition label.
- USDA Food Composition Databases – This database funnels food information from several databases. Nutritional information from food distributors is reported to the USDA then made available to the public.
- Measuring cups – Measuring cups are best for liquids as their macros are dependent on volume.
- Food scale – To have the most accurate measurement of your solid foods, you should use a food scale. Most scales can measure grams, ounces, pounds, and kilograms. You can find a good scale for under $15.
The quality of your nutrition can be highly dependent on striking the correct macro balance. If determining your macros is difficult, you can make the process easier by using recipe books that have recipes tailored to macro conscious dieters.