Counting calories used to be the end-all be-all of dieting to lose weight. There were all kinds of dieting fads that were created based on a person's total calorie count each day. But recently, more and more people are counting macros for weight loss.
Counting macros is much better than counting calories for a multitude of reasons. It's easier to keep up with and it doesn't create as much pressure on a person. Not to mention, it's a more well-rounded approach to losing weight and understanding how your body works.
Keep reading to get a better understanding of how counting macros works.
What Are Macros?
The word “macros” is short for macronutrients. Macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, the basics of everything in your diet.
This is the fundamental principle of using macros to lose weight: instead of just looking at the number of calories you eat every day, you should be more interested in where those calories are coming from.
The point is to balance your intake of carbs, fats, and proteins in a mindful, healthy manner. This is more effective when you get your macros from whole, natural foods. It is possible to stay within your daily macro goals by eating things like cookies and ice cream, but this is not the best way to set yourself up for weight loss success.
How Do You Determine Your Macros?
Just as every person's body has a different calorie requirement, the same applies for macros. As such, you have to determine your daily macro needs to be in line with your fitness goals and energy levels before you start using this approach to lose weight.
Once you start crunching numbers, the process is pretty straightforward.
Follow the steps below to get your daily macro count for carbs, fats, and proteins:
- Figure out your maintenance calories by multiplying your bodyweight (in pounds) by 15. Then, subtract 500 calories for weight loss.
- Your bodyweight is your protein requirement (140 lbs = 140 grams protein)
- Multiply your bodyweight by 0.3 to get your daily fat count in grams
- Subtract your protein and fat amounts from the daily calorie count you began with. The remainder should be divided by 4. That is your carb count.
You can tweak your macros a bit, but it's good to use the numbers you get as a guideline for your eating habits. Try it for a week or so and see how you feel, and don't be afraid to re-do your calculations if you want more results.
Cooking and Dining Out with Macros in Mind
It's one thing to figure out your macros on paper, but it's another to learn how to track them every day. Thankfully, the nutritional guidelines on food give you the grams of each macro in every serving you eat. This means all you have to do is add everything up throughout the day while you create satisfying, well-rounded meals.
If you're not much of a chef or you're always on the go, this can be easier said than done. Here are 5 tips to help you master how to count macros for weight loss.
1. Plan Ahead
Failure to plan is planning to fail. It's not enough to determine your fitness goals if you don't have a plan to accomplish them. When it comes to counting macros, the best way to succeed is to meal plan.
Write out all the meals you plan to eat for the week. Then, make them as-needed. For instance, you may need to prep lunches ahead of time so that you have a healthy meal while you're at work. But, things like breakfast and dinner can usually be made in the moment (depending on your schedule).
2. Snack and Stay Hydrated
Don't forget about snacks when planning your meals. These can make a big difference when you're trying to stay within your macro count. More importantly, they're the boost of energy you need to stay focused and alert throughout the day.
Plus, there are all kinds of snacking options for you to enjoy. You may like the thought of keeping fresh fruit in the work fridge or you might like to be a little more indulgent with homemade protein bars and sweet, yet healthy, snacks.
Still, the point is to think of your snacks as part of your overall macro count and to stay hydrated throughout the day. Good hydration can help curb hunger, and it promotes things like muscle recovery and digestion.
3. Budget Your Meals
Budgeting your meals is not the same as planning them. Go back through the list of meals you plan to have in one day and see how your macros add up. You may need to adjust some of your meals in order to better fit the macro count you've set for yourself.
This can be a little challenging at first, but you get used to it. Once you start understanding the macros of your go-to foods without having to check the labels, you're better able to create a full day's meals that are right in line with your macros.
4. Create Flexibility in Your Diet
Keep in mind that part of the benefit of counting macros is being flexible. When you count carbs, fats, and proteins instead of calories, there's more wiggle room to enjoy the things you love.
It's okay to have some pizza or a burger or a bit of ice cream from time to time. “Cheat meals” like these actually help you reach your goals in the long run, and they're not really cheating if they fit your macros!
5. Be Careful of Overindulging
As nice as it may be to be on a weight loss diet that lets you eat anything you want, remember, you can't eat everything. Be careful of overindulging just because certain foods fit your macros.
Take a step back and consider how the food you eat fuels your body. If you're filling your daily macro count with junk food at every meal, you're going to feel like junk. Save the super indulgent foods for when your body is really craving them.
Create Amazing Results by Counting Macros for Weight Loss
What are you waiting for? The secret to your weight loss may be staring right at you, but you have to try it out and see what kind of results are possible!
Use the guide above to help you figure out counting macros for weight loss.