Did you know almost half of US adults tried to lose weight in the last 12 months? If this sounds like you and your efforts aren’t successful, it may be time to look at your dieting efforts.
One of the most important aspects of dieting is counting your macronutrients (often called macros). But what are macros? And how do you count them?
Before we can answer these questions, we need to look at more information about macros, how they differ from calories, and why they’re important. In addition, we’ll look at some potential disadvantages of counting macros and who should be paying attention to their macro intake.
What Are Macros?
Macros are the primary nutrients you need in a healthy diet. They include protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Knowing these nutrients is integral to calculating macros.
Protein comes from amino acids. They serve as the building blocks for our integral body functions. This includes supporting our immune system, building muscle, carrying oxygen through the bloodstream, and improving digestion.
You can find protein in meat such as poultry, red meat, and seafood. Many dairy products also contain protein. If you follow a vegan diet, you’ll find protein in lentils, beans, seeds, and nuts.
Carbohydrates (often called carbs) are your body’s primary energy source. They’re composed of starch, sugar, and fiber. The sugars are broken down into the body in the form of glucose. This is either used immediately or stored in the body as glycogen to be used later.
You can find carbs in just about any food. Primary examples are vegetables, fruit, beans, whole grains, dairy, lentils, seeds, and nuts.
Fats are used for many purposes. They’re integral for hormone production, can be used as an energy source, and improve nutrient absorption. Fats are made of smaller molecules called fatty acids. They have saturated and unsaturated forms, which impact their nutritional level.
Unsaturated fats are known as healthy fats, found in foods such as oils, avocados, nuts, olives, and seeds.
Saturated fats can impact your heart health and can raise your cholesterol. Does that mean you should avoid them? Saturated fats can also support your immune system, improves liver function, and increases free testosterone levels.
You can find saturated fat in animal products and coconut oil. When eating saturated fats, avoid processed food, such as hot dogs and pizza. Get your saturated fat from healthy sources, such as grass-fed beef. You'll also want to consume more unsaturated fats than saturated fats.
Macros vs Calories
Everything you eat is made of calories, including macros. But just because you’re tracking calories doesn’t mean you’re tracking macros.
A mistake that many people make when dieting is they track their calories but also don’t track their macros.
As stated previously, macros are integral to a healthy diet. There’s a chance you could be getting your calories from unhealthy sources, such as snacks, even if you stay under your recommended calories.
Instead, track both calories and macros. Know the number of calories that are in your macros and calculate the calories you’re consuming to ensure your diet lies within a healthy diet. We’ll cover more on this later.
Macronutrients vs Micronutrients
Many people also confuse macronutrients and micronutrients. Think of macronutrients as the main courses of your meal that everyone needs.
But micronutrients are smaller nutrients that your body also needs. The most common examples are the essential vitamins and minerals we need in a daily healthy diet.
What’s the best way to get micronutrients? It’s simple — make sure you’re consuming enough macronutrients! Macros contain the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs. You can also take a daily multivitamin, just to ensure you’re taking in these essential smaller nutrients.
How to Count Macros
Not sure how to count macros? Don’t worry — it’s just simple science. Here are a few easy steps to follow.
Find Out Your Calorie Needs
Everyone has specific calorie needs based on factors such as height, age, activity level, weight, personal goals, and existing lifestyle.
To discover your calorie needs, identify your resting energy expenditure (REE, also known as resting metabolic rate) and nonresting energy expenditure (NREE). REE is the calories burned when inactive while NREE is the calories burned with movement.
The combination of the two results in your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).
So, how do you find out your calorie needs? If consulting with a dietician, nutritionist, or personal trainer is out of the question, you can find resources online to help you with these calculations.
Work on Your Calorie Breakdown
While calorie breakdown differs for everyone, the average calorie breakdown includes:
- Protein: 10%-35% of calories
- Carbohydrates: 45%-65% of calories
- Fats: 20%-35% of calories
Again, you may want to adjust these figures for personal goals. Let’s say gaining muscle is your ultimate goal. You may want to increase your protein intake while decreasing your carb intake. And if you're on the keto diet, you'll want to consume more healthy fats and eat fewer carbs.
Tracking your macros means you’re consuming certain measurements of your protein, carb, and fat intake per day. Yes — the food you eat must be measured/weighed and logged to ensure you’re consuming the correct amount of macros.
Fortunately, there are many resources that can help with this. There are multiple apps and websites devoted to tracking your diet.
When You Shouldn’t Track Macros
While everyone should be consuming macros, not everyone needs to track them. Here are ways to know if this dieting method won’t work for you:
- You don’t have the time and effort
- You already eat high-quality macros
- Only want a short-term diet
- Don’t want stress with your daily meals
- Previously had an eating disorder
Tracking macros also has more factors to ensure effectiveness. Activity levels, food quality, and lifestyle habits such as smoking can make or break your efforts, even if you consume enough calories.
Buy the Best Food Sources
What are macros? As a refresher, macronutrients are the essential and larger group of nutrients you need to consume daily. But the food source matters. In order to see results, you’ll only want to consume high-quality food.
This is especially true if you love nut butter. We sell peanut butter, almond butter, and cashew butter that we make by hand in our own kitchen. All of our ingredients are ethically sourced, contain no fake sugars, and our products are macro-friendly.