macros 101: introduction to tracking macros!
Hello Fit Fam!!
It’s been a minute since I’ve posted a blog post. But don’t worry! I haven’t forgotten about you all! I didn’t have much time during Spring Break to sit down and write, but I am back!
Today I want to talk about MACROS!!
This term is widely used in the fitness community, and if you’re anything like me when I was starting out, you have absolutely no idea what it means to track or count macros and the idea freaks you out to no end! Okay maybe that last part was just me lol but regardless, hopefully I can shed some light on this idea and help you all better understand what it means to track your macros!
*before you read this post, I highly recommend familiarizing yourself with caloric intake (the number of calories you should be eating). See a quick post HERE about that if you’re not too comfortable with calories 🙂
Macros 101: Introduction to Tracking Macros!
What are Macros?
Alright, this is the easy part!
“Macros” is short for “Macronutrients.”
There are 3 macronutrients: Proteins, Carbohydrates, and Fats!
What Does It Mean to Track Macros?
Basically, tracking macros means you monitor (either daily or weekly) the amount (in grams) of each of the 3 macronutrients you eat. This is a more in-depth approach to nutrition as compared to counting calories. When you track macros, you are counting both your calories (since macronutrients are calculated from your caloric intake — see next section!) and also how those calories are being allocated to proteins, carbs, and fats.
How Do I Calculate My Macros?
In general, the different macro ratios are calculated by allocating a certain percentage of your calories to proteins, carbs, and fats. These percentages are based off of a large number of factors (your fitness goals, your levels of activity, your current weight, etc.) and are thus different for each individual. So sadly, there is no universal amount of protein or carbs or fat that you should be eating.
However, there are a few online calculators that will give you a rough estimate of your macronutrients based on some of the factors listed above. Honestly, these can be a great STARTING POINT for getting into tracking macros. It is important to listen to your body though.
The procedure I followed when I was new to tracking macros was:
1.) Calculated my macros using an online calculator that produced macros based on my goals, fitness levels, etc.
2.) Ate according to those macros for ~1 to 2 weeks
3.) Monitored the progress in my body from before I started to the end of the 1-2 week period
4.) Tweaked the macros based on changes observed in my body
*here's a link to a macros calculator that I have used in the past: Macros Calculator
If you’re 100% new to macros, then that process is a great starting point! If you’re kinda familiar with macros already, or if you’re just super gung-ho about jumping in, then you may be interested in how to calculate the macros yourself (without using an online calculator).
How to Calculate Macros From Scratch:
1.) Decide on your daily caloric intake (see post HERE about that)
2.) Decide on your macros percentages
In this step, you will decide what percentage of your calories will go to protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
A good starting point that is universally accepted is:
3.) Calculate the grams of each macronutrient from the percentage
The percentage of calories dedicated to each macronutrient does not actually tell you the number of grams of that macronutrient you should be consuming. In order to figure that out, you will need to first find the number of calories allocated to a macronutrient. You will then need to divide that number by the number of calories found in 1 gram of that macronutrient. For carbohydrates and proteins, there are 4 calories per 1 gram and for fats there are 9 calories per 1 gram. This can be a bit confusing so here’s an example:
Total Calorie Intake: 2,000 calories
Macros Percentages: Let’s say we’re interested in losing fat, so we will follow the “Lower-Carb Fat Loss” percentages from above. I’ve just chosen the percentages in the middle of the ranges shown:
Protein: (2,000 calories) x (45%) = 900 calories from protein
Carbs: (2,000 calories ) x (35%) = 700 calories from carbs
Fats: (2,000 calories) x (20%) = 400 calories from fats
Macros Breakdown in Grams: Now we will multiply each of the calories found above by 1/the number of calories found in a gram of the macronutrient. You can also think of this as just dividing by the number of calories found in 1 gram of each macronutrient.
Protein: (900 calories) x (1 gram/ 4 calories) = 225g protein
Carbs: (700 calories) x (1 gram/ 4 calories) = 175g carbs
Fats: (400 calories) x (1 gram/ 9 calories) = ~44g fats
Final Macros: 225g protein I 175g carbs I 44g fats
*these numbers are for example purposes only! don’t use these macros unless you are trying to lose fat and can be in a caloric deficit at 2,000 calories. for more about calories, click here*
Alright! That is the step by step breakdown of how to calculate your own macronutrients based on your caloric intake!
That’s great and all…but how do you actually keep track of your macronutrients on a day to day basis? Let’s talk about that!
How Do I Track?
Tracking macros is similar to tracking calories, except now you are looking at the amount of protein, carbs, fat, AND calories that you’re eating. It can be a lot to keep track of, but apps like MyFitnessPal and MyMacrosPlus make it really easy! I personally am not a huge fan of MyFitnessPal, but I swear my life by MyMacrosPlus for tracking macros!! It is so clear with your daily progress and allows you to create recipes and sort your foods into macros categories. After about the first week, I barely had to scan anything new because all of my foods were in there! For more about MyMacrosPlus and where you can download it, check out THIS POST for the direct link!
Why Track Macros?
I think the last and most important question is WHY?! Why do all of this craziness and all of this #quickmaths?!! Not even gonna lie, tracking macros is a technique sent from the Fitness Gods!! It allows you to be so precise with your nutrition and the fuel you are giving your body, thus allowing you to see better results faster (given you are also putting in werk with your workouts and eating clean!). I highly recommend tracking macros IF you have the time. It is definitely not something I would start right off the bat if you are new to fitness. Start by tracking calories or being mindful about what you eat and then you can slowly progress to this style of nutrition. I currently do not track macros because I am so busy with school, but over the summers, I am on it and it really makes a difference in my body!
What is If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM)?
If It Fits Your Macros is a diet technique that essentially says you can eat anything you want (clean or not) as long as it satisfies your daily macronutrient goals. Um…I don’t really believe in this style of eating lol mainly because it is often used as an excuse to eat TERRIBLY as long as it hits your daily protein, carb, and fat goals. Obviously you should have some flexibility in your diet, but if you’re at the stage of tracking macros, I’d recommend eating clean 70-80% of the time. Sure you can live a little, but we want them gains!!!
Alright..that was a pretty long post! I hope everything makes sense, but as always, if you have any questions, feel free to drop a comment below or send me a DM on INSTAGRAM!
Have an incredible week Fit Fam!