More than half of all Americans have a goal to lose weight in 2021 by changing their diet and exercising.
Unfortunately, many people turn to restrictive diets advertised on TV or the media. As a result, they find it challenging to lose weight or give up on their goals altogether.
In recent years, tracking macros has become more popular among fitness enthusiasts and those trying to lose or gain weight. Unlike most diets, macro tracking is sustainable and teaches you how to eat intuitively. Since this method isn’t restrictive, you can enjoy any meal you desire, as long as it fits your macros.
This article will explain how you can track your macros and the benefits of doing so!
What Are Macros?
There are three basic macros (macronutrients) that each of us should consume daily: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. It is necessary to eat each of these for optimal health, especially if you are trying to lose weight or build muscle.
While many dieters cut carbs, they are essential for energy. Our bodies use them immediately as energy or store them as glycogen. The following foods are excellent sources of carbohydrates:
· Beans and legumes
· Starchy vegetables
· Dairy products
Most health organizations suggest consuming 45-65% of your daily calories from carbohydrates.
Fat has more calories than other macronutrients. Just one gram of fat is nine calories, while protein and carbohydrates have only four calories per gram.
Nevertheless, fat is essential for several functions, such as hormone production and nutrient absorption. Most diets should include 20-35% fat, which can be found in foods such as:
Proteins are vital for building and repairing tissues, hormones, and enzymes. If you don’t eat enough of it, you will have trouble building muscle.
Your protein intake should be 10-35% of your total calories. Yet, if you are trying to maintain or build muscle mass, you should aim for one gram of protein for every pound of your weight. Protein-rich foods include:
For a more in-depth explanation of carbohydrates, fats, and protein, check out this article.
Benefits of Counting Macros
Now that you recognize the difference between the three macronutrients, let’s explore the benefits of tracking them!
When you’re counting your macros, no foods are off-limits. You can eat whatever you’d like, as long as your carbohydrates, fats, and protein add up to your recommended number.
That means that you can enjoy a meal out with friends or some ice cream whenever you’d like. Remember, though, that watching your portions is the key to reaching your macro goals.
Some people tend to eat a lot of one macronutrient and a little of another. When tracking your macros, this isn’t a concern. You can be sure you’re getting the correct balance of macronutrients that you need to function correctly.
By tracking your macros, you learn about recommended portion sizes. This can help you eat more mindfully and understand which foods you are consuming in excess. Even if you decide to stop tracking your macros, you will have learned a valuable lesson about nutrition.
Helps Change Body Composition
Whether you are attempting to lose a few pounds or build lean muscle, tracking your macros can help you achieve your dream body.
This is mainly because tracking your macros allows you to understand the amount of protein you should be consuming. In a calorie deficit, this will help avoid losing muscle mass as you target fat. By the time you get to your desired weight, you will have retained your muscle but with a lean, toned appearance.
Better Diet Quality
While you can eat anything you want, relying on nutrient-dense foods makes it much easier to reach your macro goals.
To eat enough of each macronutrient, you will likely need to focus on whole foods and lean meats. On the other hand, processed foods will cause you to go over your calorie goal without reaching the desired amount of macros.
Stay Fuller, Longer
Most people increase their protein intake when tracking their macros. As a result, they feel fuller without eating as many calories and lose weight faster.
How To Track Macros
Everyone tracks their macros differently according to their age, goals, and activity level. Those who work out more often need to eat more carbs and protein than those who live sedentary lives.
If counting macros seems overly complicated, it’s a good idea to start with your ratio. Most people aim for 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 30% fat.
After you decide on your ratio, you should count the number of grams of each macro you need. You can do this quite easily by following these three steps.
1. Determine Your Calories
It can be easy to compare your diet to other people’s calorie intake, but there really is no magic number. The only way to find out how many calories you should be eating is by considering your size, activity, and age. It’s best to use a calorie calculator.
2. Convert Your Ratio into Grams
Now that you understand how many calories you should be eating, you can use your ratio to discover how many grams of each macronutrient you should consume. If you aren’t sure how to do this, you can use an online tool to help.
3. Use an App to Track
Tracking your macros may seem like a lot of work, but apps like MyFitnessPal, Lose It, or Cronometer makes it much more manageable. You can even opt for notifications around mealtimes, so you don’t forget to register your food.
Start Tracking Macros Today
Tracking macros is the key to reaching your fitness goals, no matter what they are. Just remember to adjust your calorie goals and ratio as you progress in your fitness journey. Doing so will guarantee that you continue to see the desired changes in your body!
Are you ready to start counting your macros? Check out more of our nutrition-related content to help you get started!