For a long time, weight loss was all about counting calories and maintaining a deficit. However, now we know that the best way to lose weight and to stay healthy is to track your macronutrients. Tracking macronutrients over calories helps you to reach your fitness goals faster and also allows you to improve your dietary habits in the long run.
Grasping the concept of macronutrients and deciding on the correct ratio for you is not a challenging task. If you know your ideal calorie intake, you can use online macro calculators to split your intake into how many grams of carbs, proteins, and fats you should have in a day. Read this article to learn about the benefits of counting macros and how to calculate them easily, depending on your goal.
- To use this macro calculator, you need to figure out your ideal daily calorie intake. You then enter this figure in the calculator.
- Different diet regimes propose different macronutrient ratios. For example, according to the Zone diet, your diet ratio should be 40% carbs, 30% proteins, and 30% fats. Choose the diet regime you wish to follow.
- You can enter the ratio of macronutrients as per your choice.
- Enter the number of meals you plan to have in a day.
- Click on calculate.
The results show you how many grams of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates you should consume in a day or per meal. It also shows how many calories of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats you should eat per meal and per day.
What are macros, and are they important?
Macronutrients, commonly called macros, are molecules that we need in a large amount. They are the main nutrients that we need to survive. They provide energy and material for the growth and repair of the body. Micronutrients, like vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes, are substances that we need in small amounts. The three macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. We need all three of these nutrients, as cutting out any of these can lead to nutritional deficiencies or illnesses.
Carbohydrates provide us with quick energy. When we eat carbohydrates, our body converts them into glucose. This glucose is then used immediately, or our body stores it as glycogen to be used later. Grains, starchy vegetables, beans, dairy products, and fruits contain carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates provide four calories per gram.
Too many carbs in the form of sugar, which is common in processed foods, can have adverse health effects. Complex carbohydrates are rich in dietary fiber and are beneficial for the digestive system.
Proteins are organic compounds made up of amino acids. They help in growth, repair injuries, build muscle, and protect us from infections. We need 20 different amino acids. Of these amino acids, nine are essential amino acids, which means our body cannot produce them, and we must obtain them from the food we eat. Some good sources of protein include poultry, fish, beef, soy, beans, nuts, and dairy products.
Proteins provide four calories per gram.
Fats are composed of carbon and hydrogen atoms. They are classified based on the bonding of carbon atoms. Saturated and trans fats are unhealthy fats, white monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and omega-3 fatty acids are considered healthy fats.
We need fats to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, support cell growth and induce hormone production. Fat also protects our organs and insulates our body during cold weather.
Fats provide nine calories per gram.
How can you decide your ideal macronutrient breakdown?
Every person is different, and every person’s macronutrient need is also different. Your macronutrient ratio depends on your health and fitness goal and how your body responds to different foods.
The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institutes of Medicine also acknowledges that different active individuals have different nutritional needs. According to The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institutes of Medicine, the acceptable macronutrient distribution ranges as (1) –
- Carbohydrates – 45% to 65% of total calories
- Protein – 10% to 35% of total calories
- Fat – 20% to 35% of total calories
You can fine-tune these recommendations to fit your specific needs. For example, if you want to go on a ketogenic diet, you will need fewer carbs and more fats in your diet.
Some people may be able to do well on a low carb diet, while others do better when they eat more carbs. Bodybuilders include more proteins in their diet, while some people get digestive discomfort from overeating protein.
How can you calculate your macros?
Now that you know your ideal macro breakdown, you can calculate your macros in a few easy steps. For example, if you follow a diet of 2000 calories a day and your ideal macro ratio is 40% carbs, 30%proteins, and 30% fats, here’s how you will calculate the calories for each macro –
40% of 2,000 calories = 800 calories
1 gram of carbs = 4 calories
Total carbs allowed each day = 800 /4 = 200 grams
30% of 2,000 calories = 600 calories
1 gram of proteins = 4 calories
Total proteins allowed each day = 600 /4 = 150 grams
30% of 2,000 calories = 600 calories
1 gram of fats = 9 calories
Total fats allowed each day = 600 /9 = 67 grams
How can you track your macros?
1. Use nutritional labels
Almost all packaged goods sold in the supermarkets have nutritional labels. The nutritional facts are based on the serving size. So, if the serving size is half a cup and you are eating more than a cup, multiply the value of the macro by 2.
2. Use a digital food scale
Some advanced digital food scales have inbuilt databases. After the food is weighed, you can enter the food code, and it will compute the calories from fat, protein, and carbs for that food.
3. Use food tracking apps
Food tracking apps like MyFitnessPal and MyMacros+ are an easy and quick way of tracking macros.
What are the benefits of tracking macros?
1. Shifts focus on food quality
When you count macros instead of calories, you focus your attention on the quality of food that you are eating rather than the quantity. When you track your macros, you will eat more nutrient-dense foods to fulfill your macronutrient range. This process helps you to eat healthier meals.
When you have specific dietary recommendations, you can lose weight faster. During one study, when 33 obese adolescents followed a high protein and low carbohydrate diet for 13 weeks, they showed a significant improvement in their BMI scores (2).
3. Helps to achieve goals
Athletes and bodybuilders have specific goals and may need particular diets to accomplish those goals. These people need more protein in their diet. Counting macros is essential for people who need specific macronutrients to improve their performance.
Tracking macros can be time-consuming and frustrating in the beginning. However, it is an effective way to achieve your diet and fitness goals. Tracking macros helps to take the focus off weight loss and shifts to improving nutrition. It also helps in creating healthy food habits in the long run. Macronutrient calculators also help by calculating your daily macro intakes for you in a few easy steps.