How to Count Macros: A Step-By-Step Guide
Counting Macros has become very popular. You may have heard about it at your gym, read about it in a health article, or seen something about it on social media.
Maybe you are or have counted macros in the past, or maybe you just scratch your head and have no idea what to think or where to start when it comes to counting macros.
Well, this post is going to help walk you through understanding macros in a very simple way, giving you the basic understanding so that you can choose to count macros to reach your personal health goals.
The first thing everyone always asks is: What is a Macro?
I am going to assume you know what a calorie is. All food is made up of calories and macros are the break down of the calories in our food.
What are Macronutrients?
It has been proven time and time again that protein is one of the most important aspects of our diets.
Most people eat enough protein to prevent deficiency, however many individuals would do better if they increased their protein intake.
Several studies have proven that a high-protein diet has major benefits for metabolic health and weight loss.
Your body requires fuel to burn fat, your body requires fuel to exercise, your body requires fuel to lose weight. Without the proper fuel, you will only be spinning your wheels, trying to reach your weight loss goals, and never accomplishing those goals. So don’t be afraid of carbs, learn the benefits of complex carbs, and which to eat!
Fats are a type of Macro Nutrient, just like carbohydrates and protein. And like carbs and protein, your body requires some healthy fat for energy, to protect your heart, absorb vitamins, and help with brain health.
However, not all fats are created equal. There are four types of fat, some good and some bad.
Why Count Macros and Not Calories:
Counting calories is ok, but it doesn’t really show you what you are putting into your body.
Example: Your calculated calorie goal might be1,500 and you could eat enough Oreo cookies to hit 1,500 calories and you would be sticking to your calorie goal. However, eating 1,500 calories In Oreos won’t help you lose weight or gain the lean muscle you want.
Counting macros instead of calories takes counting to a better level, allowing you to properly nourish your body, by eating a balanced amount of Protein, Carbs, and Fat, allowing you to lose that unwanted fat, gain lean muscle, fuel your body properly, and not restrict foods.
Benefits of Counting Macros:
- Allows you to narrow in on what you are eating based on your goals
- Promotes properly nourishing your body, without putting it into starvation mode
- Helps you to better understand how your body reacts to certain foods
- There is no complete restriction of any food, however, everything in moderation
- You’ll learn how to fuel your body properly for life long health, not a fad diet. This Is completely sustainable for the rest of your life.
- Best of all Counting Macros guarantees that you will hit your goal, no matter what your goals are
Example of Goals:
If you are looking to lose weight:
You want to eat a high protein diet: 35% Protein | 40% Carbs | 25% Fat
If you want to gain muscle:
You want a high protein high carb diet: 30% Protein | 50% Carbs | 20% Fat
If you are looking to maintain your weight:
You want a more well-balanced diet: 25% Protein | 40% Carbs | 35% Fat
How to Calculate Your Personal Macro Goal:
Before I can teach you how to calculate your macros, you must first understand a few terms:
- BMR: Basal Metabolic Rate: This Is the number of calories your body NEEDS each day to survive at your current body weight. This Is the amount of calories you would need to function if you did absolutely nothing all day except lay In bed, seriously nothing else. Any movement would Increase your total calories needed.
- TDEE: Total Daily Energy Expenditure: Is your BMR plus the extra calories that you use up throughout the day when you do more than lay in bed.
Combining your BMR calories and your TDEE calories tells us exactly what your body needs to remain at your current weight. But if you are looking to lose weight you would need to be in a calorie deficit. To do this you will want to decrease your total calories needed by no more 500 calories. A reduction of 500 calories per day will allow you to lose 1-3 pounds per week. Reducing your calories by more than 500 per week will put your body in Starvation Mode, (Starvation mode will not help you lose weight or build lean muscle, you will cause more harm than good).
Calculating your Macros:
I am going to share with you the math, but I have created a super easy tool for you to use. All you have to do is plug-In your age, weight, height, and my tool does all of the math for you! But I want to provide you with the math so that you could potentially do this on your own.
To calculate your BMR: (Weight (in kilograms) * 10) + (Height (in centimeters) * 6.25) – (Age * 5) – 161
To calculate your TDEE: BMR * Activity Level (see activity level notes below)
- 1.2 Sedentary: Desk job, a little exercise
- 1.3 Light Activity: Light exercise 1-3 days per week
- 1.5 Moderate Activity: Exercise 3-5 days per week
- 1.7 Very Active: Hard Exercise, 6-7 days per week
- 1.9 Extremely Active: Hard Exercise, 6-7 days per week, plus a physical job
If you are trying to lose weight you will want to reduce your final TDEE calorie total by 250 – 500
- Weight: 175 Lbs In kilograms: 795
- Height: 5’9 In Inches: 69
- Age: 38
- Activity Level 1.5
- BMR: (795 *10) + (69 * 6.25) – (38*5) – 161 = 1,539
- TDEE: 1,539 * 1.5 = 2,308
Total Calorie Goal Jessica would need to lose Weight: 2,308 – 500 = 1,808
Above you learned how to calculate your calories…Now It’s time to break those calories Into macronutrients :
Again, I have taken the hard and scary out of this for you. I have done this in the tool I created. However, as I said, I want to give you the math behind the tool in the event you want to figure this out on your own.
To break your down your calories into macros, you need to understand macros just a little more:
- For every 1 gram of protein, there are 4 calories
- Every 1 gram of carbs, there are 4 calories
- For every 1 gram of fat, there are 9 calories
As outlined above if your goal is to lose weight and build lean muscle you would want to eat a High Protein Diet: 35% Protein | 40% Carbs | 25% Fat
Using Jessica’s total calories to lose weight: 1,808
- 35% Protein = 1,808 * 35% = 633 calories / 4 = 158 grams of Protein
- 40% Carbs = 1,808 * 40% = 723 calories / 4 = 181 grams of Carbs
- 25% Fat = 1,808 * 25% = 452 calories / 9 = 50 gram of Fat
- Total Calories: 1,808
Ok, now that we have figured out your macros: How do you actually count macros?
Counting macros has become very easy with a number of different free apps. My favorite being 1st Phorms My Transpormation App. My Transphormation allows you to scan in the bar code on the back of your food, or manually look individual ingredients up within their app. My Transphormation has millions of ingredients tracked within their app, as well as thousands of different restaurant items in their database, making eating out easier when you’re counting macros. My Transphormation basic version is FREE! The basic version is really all you need.
Macros are the breakdown of the calories in our food
1. Allows you to narrow in on what you are eating based on your goals
2. Promotes properly nourishing your body, without putting it into starvation mode
3. Helps you to better understand how your body reacts to certain foods
4. There is no complete restriction of any food, however, everything in moderation
5. You’ll learn how to fuel your body properly for life long health, not a fad diet. This Is completely sustainable for the rest of your life.