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How to Count Macros

Updated: 2 days ago


Macros are the building blocks of nutrition, but if you’re new to counting them, it can be challenging. From tracking your meals to understanding how much is too much or not enough, this guide will help you develop the skills needed for a healthy and successful macro diet plan!


Know the basics.

What are macros?

Macros (short for macronutrients) are the nutrients that provide energy to your body. They're broken down into three categories: protein, carbohydrates, and fat.


How important are they?

We need all three of these macro-nutrients to function properly. For example, protein is critical for tissue repair and growth—especially if you're working out regularly. Carbohydrates are a great source of fuel for our bodies during intense training sessions or long runs; they also help lower our insulin levels so we don't experience a dip in energy during workouts. Finally, fats can be used as an alternative fuel source when you've run out of glycogen (the stored form of carbohydrates). This can come in handy during longer physical activity where it might take some time before hitting "the wall" due to lack of glycogen stores (aka bonking).


Understand the process.

The first thing you need to know is what macros are. Macros are the three major types of nutrients found in food: carbohydrates, protein and fat. The amount of each nutrient you consume daily is called your macronutrient goal. The specific numbers will vary from person to person, based on your goals and body composition.


Make sure to log your food intake.

In order to count your macros, you need to know what you're eating. While it's hard enough to get a handle on the food you eat when you're not paying attention, tracking your intake can be frustratingly difficult. The first step is choosing a method that works for you: apps like MyFitnessPal and Fooducate are popular because they offer more features than just keeping track of macronutrients, but if all you need is an easy calorie tracker or basic nutritional information, there are plenty of websites (including this one) out there. Whichever route you choose, make sure that whatever tool or website you use has enough flexibility for what YOU want out of it—if it doesn't fit your needs, it won't be useful in helping with understanding your diet!

Once tracking has become second nature (or third-, fourth-, etc.), we recommend taking time every week or so to check in on how things have been going since last time. This will help give context for any changes in weight or energy levels over time and let anyone who cares about their health keep track of how well things are going overall!


Be consistent with your habits.

In order to be consistent, you need to have habits that you can rely on. For example, maybe you always drink a glass of water before every meal or always eat breakfast at the same time each morning. This consistency means that your body recognizes these times as cues for certain behaviors and will help them become automatic. The more ingrained these habits are in your daily routine, the easier it will be to make healthy choices without having to think about them too much!


Don’t make unnecessary changes to your diet.

Don't make unnecessary changes to your diet.


It can be tempting to go all out on this, but it's best to take it slow and allow your body time to adjust. The last thing you want is for your new macro counting habits to end up making you feel worse than before, as that can set back any progress you've made towards reaching a healthier weight or lifestyle.


When in doubt, err on the side of caution by making small changes rather than big ones; if something isn't working for you then it's okay to try something else!


Eat enough protein for strength and recovery.

Protein is essential for building and repairing muscle. It also helps you recover from workouts, so it's important to eat enough protein on a daily basis.

If you're trying to build muscle, you'll need to consume more protein than the average person (1 gram per pound of bodyweight). If your goal is weight loss, however, your macros should be adjusted accordingly so that they fall within healthy ranges for your weight class. You can use this calculator as a guide.*

  • Note: We recommend consulting with an iThinkFit nutritionist or coach for specific macro recommendations, based on your goals, before making any drastic changes in your diet.

Build on a strong foundation of whole foods.

A strong foundation of whole foods is what you need to build a healthy diet. Whole foods are foods that are as close to their natural state as possible and contain all of the nutrients that they were naturally intended to have.

"Whole Foods" includes:

  • Fresh produce (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes)

  • Meat and fish that hasn't been processed or treated with additives (for example: no added nitrates)

  • Dairy products such as milk and yogurt that don't contain artificial sweeteners or trans fats

Macros are important for performance, but doing them right takes some practice and consistency.

Macros are important for performance, but doing them right takes some practice and consistency.


Macros are important for performance, but doing them right takes some practice and consistency. You can’t just eat whatever you want and call it a day, because that’s not how your body works. Your metabolism will slow down if you don’t give it what it needs to perform at its best, which means that if you want to see results from your workouts, there needs to be an effort on both sides of the equation: dieting AND working out (weirdly enough).


It's worth noting that this isn't something that happens overnight; changing up your diet is a process—and even though there are tons of diets out there promising immediate weight loss results without any effort or sacrifice involved (they're all lies), actually getting used to your new routine can take time! That said...


If we were talking about anything else in life (like say a job), would you quit halfway through training? Or would you finish one training session before starting another one? No way! But with food…oh boy do people quit when they should probably keep going! Don't be like those people who start new diets every day and then go back on their normal diets after two days because they didn't lose weight fast enough or their energy levels dropped too much or whatever reason makes sense only inside their own headspace...


Conclusion

There’s no denying that counting your macros is an important part of getting in shape. But it can be a confusing process at first and take some time to get used to. The key here is to remember that consistency and practice are your friends, so don’t get frustrated if you make a mistake or two along the way! If you keep at it, though, I promise that you’ll find success in no time!

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