Sixty-one percent of Americans report unwanted weight changes since the beginning of the pandemic. As a result, an increasing number of individuals are turning to diets to get healthier.
One of the most popular diets involves tracking macros. Unlike fad diets, macro tracking isn’t restrictive and allows you to eat any foods you desire. You can also adjust it to meet any fitness goal, whether you want to lose fat, gain muscle, or maintain your current weight.
In this introduction to macro tracking, we’ll teach you all about macros and how to track them. You’ll also learn why this diet is one of the most flexible and beneficial out there.
What Are Macros?
Macros are macronutrients, which are the three most basic nutrients that provide you with energy. They include proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Let’s take a look at the role of each of these nutrients.
Eating protein is essential for the growth and reparation of tissues. It also preserves lean muscle during a calorie deficit.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Your body can produce some amino acids, while others you must consume by eating protein-rich foods. These include fish, meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, soy, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
When trying to lose weight, you should add plenty of protein to your diet. It promotes feelings of fullness and has the highest thermic effect of any macronutrient. Essentially, this means that it takes more calories to digest compared to fats or carbohydrates.
After eating carbs, your body converts them into glucose, your primary source of energy. Carbs also have an essential role in digestion and the synthesis of some amino acids. Yet, you should pay attention to the type of carbs you are regularly eating.
Simple carbs are easy to break down for glucose. They are in sweet foods such as sugar, honey, or fruit. These foods are not very filling since your body can digest them quickly.
On the other hand, your body takes longer to break down complex carbs. You can find them in starches and grains like potatoes, rice, bread, or pasta. Typically, they contain fiber which helps your body get rid of waste.
Complex carbs are the better choice when trying to lose weight, as they help you stay fuller longer.
Fat is the macronutrient that is highest in calories, but that doesn’t mean that you should leave it out of your diet. In fact, eating fats is necessary for many bodily functions, such as the storage of energy, production of hormones, absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and cushioning of organs.
The healthiest type is unsaturated fat, and it can decrease your risk for heart disease. It comes from plant and animal sources, such as nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, and fatty fish. For optimal health, you should aim to include plenty of unsaturated fats in your diet and avoid trans and saturated fats.
How To Count Macros
When it comes to tracking your macros, calories are crucial. That’s because weight loss is only possible if you expend more calories than you consume. On the other hand, you should consume a surplus of calories to gain weight or build muscle.
Thus, the first step to counting your macros is to set a goal and determine the number of calories you should eat. There are some free online calorie counters that you can use to do this.
Set Your Ratios
The next step is deciding on a macronutrient split. Typically, your ratios should be in this range
- Carbohydrates: 45-65%
- Fat: 20-35%
- Protein: 10-35%
If you try to gain or preserve lean muscle, your protein intake should be around 30-35%. Nevertheless, every person is different, and it is up to you to come up with a macro split that fits your nutritional needs.
Convert Your Ratio to Grams
Once you have a calorie goal and macronutrient split in mind, you can convert these ranges into grams. Doing this is vital because it will allow you to track your food intake.
While you can do the math the old-fashioned way, it is much easier to use an app or a macro calculator tool.
Logging Your Food
The most convenient way to count your macros is by using a tracking app. The most popular is MyFitnessPal, which tracks your percentages of macronutrients as well as calorie intake.
To get the most out of tracking your macros, be sure to enter everything you consume into the app, including sauces, coffee creamer, or drinks. These calories can quickly add up and sabotage your health goals.
Benefits of Tracking Macros
Although most people track their macros for weight loss, there are so many other benefits. Here are just a few.
One reason that individuals fail at dieting is the lack of accountability for food choices. Yet, each meal is essential to hit your macro percentages for the day when you’re tracking your macros. You’ll find yourself skipping out on an extra piece of cake because you realize how much it will affect your macro split for the day.
Learn About Serving Sizes
Often, people struggle to lose weight because they are unaware of portion sizes. Some foods, especially those high in fat, contain a large number of calories.
For example, a tablespoon of peanut butter weighs 15 grams and is almost 100 calories. Meanwhile, 100 grams of chicken breast contains only 165 calories and will leave you feeling much fuller.
Understanding how the nutritional value of foods can help you make better choices throughout your life, even if you decide to stop tracking your macros.
Understand Your Eating Habits
Even if you are eating healthy most of the time, counting your macros can give you an idea of how you can improve your eating habits. For example, you may realize that you eat too much of one macronutrient and not enough of another. You may also find that you feel more satisfied when you eat more protein than you usually do.
Achieve Your Fitness Goals
There’s a reason that bodybuilders and athletes track their macros. Unlike fad diets, this method produces actual results.
No matter your goal, you can attain it by tracking your macros. If you want to stay your current weight while increasing your lean muscle mass, gain muscle, or lose fat, a macro split can fit your needs.
Tracking Your Macros for a Healthier You
Tracking macros is an exceptional way to take charge of your health. It can help you meet your weight goals, learn how to eat better, and be more accountable in the long run.
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