If you’re serious about your fitness journey, I suggest you learn more about “macros.” Before you roll your eyes at me and think “pft, I’m not going to track my food, you’re crazy.” Trust me, I was there… I even said it out loud to Jamie, “I’m never going to be that person who tracks their food”…Now, here I am counting macros and writing about it.
I hope you give me a chance to explain what the benefits are to counting your macros.
What Are Macros?
Macronutrients, or “macros,” are the building blocks of nutrition. You most likely know them better as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Macros are the nutrients you need in large amounts, as they provide your body with the calories it needs to function.
You need a healthy ratio of carbs, protein and fat. Not just because it’s a flexible, sustainable, even empowering way of eating, but because it’s an effective way to reach fitness goals.
Carbohydrate – Provides fuel and energy to your body and brain. Carbs can be found in pretty much everything, except meat. Meat has low or 0 amounts of carbs. Carbs are found in grains, fruits, vegetables, and also milk and yogurt. Carbs are my best friend.. 🙂
Protein – Helps to build and repair your muscles, organs, skin, blood, and hormones in your body. It’s found in large amounts in meat, poultry, fish, dairy, tofu, and eggs, and in smaller amounts in nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Protein is very important in your day-to-day life.
Fat – Not all fats are bad! Fat supplies the body with fatty acids, such as omega-3’s, which are used to promote heart health. It regulates hormones that control blood pressure, and absorbs vitamins and minerals digested from food. It also protects your bones and organs, & acts as a backup fuel for energy.
Healthy, unsaturated fats are found in olive oil, avocados, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish, like salmon. Unhealthy saturated fats are found in bacon, butter, processed foods, like cookies, microwavable meals, and cereal.
How Much Protein/ Fats/ Carbs Do I Need?
Well, it all depends on what your goals are. Are you trying to build muscle, maintain, or lose weight? Each goal will have different number of macros you need to eat on a regular basis.
Firstly, the internet is an amazing resource, but it can also be a really confusing place when you are trying to figure out what works best for YOU. Just because a certain macro split worked for someone who looks like you, doesn’t mean it will guarantee results. You need to play with your macros and figure out what works best for YOU. Maybe you are someone who has more success with higher carbs, or someone who functions better with higher fats. There is no exact answer to Macros so please take the below as examples to loosely follow if you are starting off this journey.
If You Want To Gain Muscle
Protein– A common recommendation for gaining muscle is 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, or 2.2 grams of protein per kg. Thus if you are a woman, 5’3″, weighing 120 lbs, you need to eat roughly 120 grams of protein per day.
Carbohydrates – According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) has recommended a carb intake range for athletes of 5-12 g/kg of bodyweight per day. That means your carb intake should be roughly between 2.3-5.5 grams per pound of bodyweight per day.
Putting that into English means, that if you weigh 120 lbs, you should eat around 276 grams of carbohydrates a day.
Fats – For fat you should have between 0.5 – 0.7 grams of fat per day. Thus if you weigh 120 lbs you should have between 60 – 70 grams of fat per day.
Calories – In order to gain muscle we need to be in a calorie surplus. Please keep in mind that in order to get stronger, you will increase your body weight and your body fat will go up slightly.
One thing to keep in mind is that the calculators that exist aren’t perfect, and won’t know if you are someone who is a hardgainer (ectomorph) or someone who can put on weight easily (endomorph).
My honest recommendation is to look at the calculators and experiment to see what works best for you. As I’ve already mentioned, it isn’t an exact science, and this is supposed to be a fun journey! So play around with it and see if what you are doing works. If you find you are gaining muscle, but maybe putting on more pounds then you want, cut back on some calories and see if that helps. On the flipside if you aren’t seeing the gains you want, increase what you’re eating a bit and see if that works!
If You Want To Lose Fat
Protein– A common recommendation for losing fat is 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, or 2.2 grams of protein per kg. Thus, if you are a woman, 5’3″, weighing 120lbs, you need to eat roughly 120 grams of protein per day.
Carbohydrates – In order to lose weight we need to reduce the amount of carbs we ingest; with the starting place being around 1 gram of carbs per pound of body weight. Please ensure to eat lots of carbs packed with nutrients, like sweet potatoes, whole grains, rice and lots of vegetables. You don’t need to ONLY EAT SALAD.
Fats – For fat loss we need to keep our fats low, but still have some healthy fats in our diet. Our recommendation is to have between 0.2 – 0.3 grams of fat per pound of body weight. So, for our example woman that would be 120 x 0.2 = 24 grams of fat per day.
How To Track Your Macros?
I have a food scale and track my macros with an app called “My Fitness Pal.” It’s an amazing tool to use, and gives you the ability to organize your meals. I have mine set as “Meal 1, Meal 2, Pre/Post workout snack, etc.” This way when you plug in your meals, its nicely organized and easy to read. You’re even also able to make your own recipes and track them in the app. For example, If you make your own chilli, you plug in all the ingredients, with the correct portions, and put how many servings it is and the app provides the macro information for you!
I find that learning to track and weigh things was just like learning a new skill, but now that skill is a habit; it’s not restrictive at all. I LOVE tracking my food, it’s nice to know how many carbs, fats, protein, and even sugar you’re having in your diet. It’s a great way to reach your goals.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to this, but the feedback from counting and tracking really helps you get to know your body, like what it needs and how much. In this sense, macro counting is empowering because it can help you be in control of your body.
REMEMBER: If you do track, don’t get too hung up on the number, it’s nice to have a goal, however if you go over a bit, or you’re under your calories, that’s totally fine! Not every day needs to be on the exact number in mind.
If you like your snacks once in awhile or you know you’re having pizza for dinner, track those “treat meals” in the morning and that way you can work your way around with the rest of the calories that’s leftover for the day. My Fitness Pal, provides a lot of fast food chains, so it’s easy to accurately track those “treat meals”.
Below, I have provided a macro calculator for you to fill out and figure out your macros for your goals! Again, it’s not 100% accurate, since everyone is very different in their unique ways. Have fun, play around, and see what feels good for your body.
This is roughly what my macros look like right now when I’m bulking… Please don’t copy this. Just because it works for me, doesn’t mean these numbers will work for you.
Carbs – 270G – ish
Protein – 170G – ish
Fat – 75 G – ish
Cal – 2,700 – ish
I’m not always on point, I do go over, and sometimes I end up under. I go over on purpose, due to being a hardgainer..
P.S, for the most part, I don’t track my condiments, or sauces. If the sauce is bad, then yes, I’ll try my best to track it.
I hope this page has helped you! Feel free to message me anytime.
Check out the calculator, set goals, play around, most importantly stay healthy and MAKE IT FUN!
Macro Calculator provided by calculators.tech