What Are Macros?
Macronutrients are molecules that our bodies use to create energy for themselves – primarily fat, protein and carbs. They are found in all foods in varying amounts, measured in grams (g) on the nutrition labels.
- Fat provides 9 calories per gram
- Protein provides 4 calories per gram
- Carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram
Counting Calories vs. Counting Macros
If you eat less calories than you burn, you will likely lose weight. But counting calories can only tell you so much; if you’re not careful and don’t eat the right calories, you’ll likely lose muscle too! To maintain, lose or even gain weight, many people rely on counting macros to make sure they’re eating correctly. 100 calories of avocado (fat) is a lot better than 100 calories of a doughnut (carbs). On a ketogenic (low carb, high fat) diet, it’s very important to know how many carbs you’re eating in comparison to fat and protein. Many people aim for less than 50g of carbs to maintain ketosis. When counting macros, you simply add up how many grams of fat, protein and carbs you ate that day.
Let’s take an example: If you ate 10 Ritz crackers and wanted to calculate your macros for that meal, you would first determine how many servings you ate. If the serving size is 5 crackers and you ate 10, you would multiply every number on that label by 2. You would have eaten 8g of fat, 20g of carbs, and 2g of protein in that snack. In your log, you would then add all your grams of carbs, protein and fat up to a total so far. By seeing your macros visually, you can easily tell when you’re running a little high in carbs and know when to slow down.
Some basic formulas for figuring up your needed macros are:
- (Building Mass)
-Protein=1.5 - 2 grams for each current body pound (200lb person=300-400 grams of protein or 1200-1600 protein calories)
-Carbs=1.5 carbs for each current body pound (200lb person= 300 carbs daily or 1200 carb calories)
-Fat Grams=40% of current body weight (200lb person=80 fat grams daily or 720 fat calories daily)
Calorie Total: 3120 - 3520
- (Losing Fat)
-Protein=1.5 - 2 grams for each current body pound
-Carbs= .50 – 1 carb for each current body pound
-Fat Grams= 30%-40% of current body weight (fat serves as an energy source due to lack of carbs)
Calorie Total (based on 200lb person): 2230 – 3120
By looking at these calorie counts, conventional wisdom would say these are a lot of calories. But this is the benefit of counting macros. It is not the calories quantity, but the kind of calories. This layout is based on a person who does some physical fitness activity three times a week at the bare minimum or has a moderately active to very active lifestyle.
Cardio cannot be downplayed in this either. So many people are quick to run or do something brutal and get their heart rate to skyrocket at the gym. This too will contribute to your body eating away muscle as opposed to fat. Believe it or not, your body goes to muscle first for energy, so having a good amount of protein in your body combats your body’s ability to catabolize (eat) your hard-earned muscle. Supplements can also help with this too.
A good suggestion would be keep your cardio sessions moderate. Get a good sweat going on AFTER you lift or workout so your muscles have all they need to work when doing any form of resistance training/weight lifting. Your muscles need that ATP (muscle energy) and it can be burned up and turned into ADP (opposite of muscle energy) which can lead to lack luster workouts. Heart rate suggestions universally would be 120-140 beats per minute for anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes.
If you have “cardio days” then the session time can be expanded but the heart rate zone should stay the same. This is what we called the “fat-burning zone).
Give this approach a try for 8-12 weeks. Shop smart at the store, log your food intake, and keep workouts consistent. You will like what you see.
Remember, scales portray numbers, mirrors portray results.