If you’ve ever struggled with managing your weight, you’ve probably noticed how hard it is to choose the right diet. Quick-fix fad diets don’t usually work, and finding an eating plan that works in the long term can be tricky. However, one of the most popular ways to drop pounds these days — counting macros — is likely to ensure success.
What are macros?
Macros is short for macronutrients, and there are three of them — carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Macronutrients provide most of the calories and energy that we get from our food. Keeping track of them can help us gain a better understanding of foods we’re eating the most of and how we can make changes that will help us meet our weight loss goals.
Carbohydrates typically comprise most of the calories we eat, and they include starches, sugars, and fibers. Carbs get broken down into sugar (glucose) in the blood, which the body either uses for energy or stores in the muscles and liver. Carbs are found in grains, starchy vegetables, beans, dairy products, and fruits.
Fats are the next macronutrient, and they’re the most calorie-dense of the three. Fats are critical for a number of bodily functions like energy metabolism, hormone production, nutrient absorption, and body temperature regulation. They’re found in foods like oils, butter, avocado, nuts, meat, and fatty fish.
And last but not least, there’s protein. Protein comes from animal products like meat and eggs, and it’s also found in plant foods like beans, lentils, and tofu. Protein plays an important role in our ability to build tissue, our immune function, and the production certain hormones and enzymes.
The phrase “counting macros” simply refers to keeping track of how much of each macronutrient you’re getting in your daily diet. All three are crucial for good health, and experts suggest that there are certain amounts you need of each. According to recommendations from the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institutes of Medicine (IOM), people should aim to get 45 to 65 percent of their total daily calories from carbs, 20 to 35 percent of their calories from fats, and 10 to 35 percent from proteins.
That being said, these amounts are subject to change depending on what your health goals are. For example, if you’re trying to lower your blood sugar, you may want to reduce your intake of carbs and consume more protein. Similarly, if you’re a weight loss plan like the keto diet, you’d be required to up your intake of fats and reduce carbs. Be sure to talk to your doctor or a dietician/nutritionist to discuss your goals and how you can adjust your macronutrient consumption in order to meet them!
The Easiest Way to Count Macros
If you’re ready to start counting macros, luckily, technology has made it super simple. There are so many nutrition apps out there than can help you keep track of the foods that you eat and count the macronutrients — and calories — in them for you.
Apps like MyFitnessPal, MyMacros+, and Lose It! can help you keep track of your macros. You can even scan the barcodes of certain food items and log your portion sizes! Otherwise, you can do a quick search for the food you’ve eaten and log your amounts. These apps will give a breakdown of how many of each macronutrient you’ve eaten in a day with fun, colorful charts — no math required on your part!
If you’re not using an app, you can also track your macros by weighing your foods in a food scale. Check out this guide for how to do it from blogger HealthyEater.
Counting macros is a great way to get more intentional about what you’re eating, and really make the changes you need to make in order to achieve all your goals.
Here’s to a healthier you!