If you follow me on Instagram, chances are you have seen that I follow a nutritional lifestyle called “macro counting”. Basically, counting macros is just like counting calories, but in a more specific way. Rather than focusing on solely the number of calories you consume, you focus on the type of calories you consume.
What are macros?
Macros stands for macronutrients. There are three types of macronutrients – carbs, fats, and protein. Each gram of carbs has 4 calories, each gram of fat has 9 calories, and each gram of protein has 4 calories no matter what. So if you eat 20 g of carbs from an apple, you are getting 80 calories from that apple. If you eat 20 g of carbs from a donut, you are getting 80 calories from that donut. Every single food you eat is made up of these three macronutrients in various combinations.
I think of my daily macros as a debit card. Let’s say based on your goals that you need to be eating 185 g carbs, 60 g fat, and 140 g protein. Each food you eat is taking away from that goal. For example, if I eat an apple with peanut butter for breakfast that has a total of 35 g carbs, 12 g fat, and 10 g protein, I would now have 150 g carbs, 48 g fat, and 130 g protein left for the day. At the end of the day, you should have 0 g of each one left.
Why should I count macros?
Counting macros allows you to be flexible with your diet and truly fuel your body according to your specific needs. When I was just counting calories in vs. calories out, I did lose weight, but I wasn’t seeing the definition and tone that I so badly wanted. By following macros, I know exactly how much of each type of food I need to eat in order to reach my goals!
Is it just for really intense people?
When I first saw people counting macros on Instagram, I just assumed it was something only body builders did. I didn’t think it was something a normal person could do, but boy was I wrong! Counting macros is a nutritional lifestyle approach. Anyone can count macros 🙂 ! All it takes is a little practice and a lot of dedication.
Does it take up a lot of time?
At first – yes. If you’ve never counted macros before, chances are you don’t pay too much attention to nutritional labels. You might look at the calories, but that’s probably about it. When I first started, I had no idea the macro compositions of foods I ate daily. I knew a banana was full of carbs, but did it have 100 g of carbs? 10 g? I literally had no clue. After you play around with macros and start tracking what you eat, you will find out which foods are heavy in which macronutrients and how to combine them together so that you are eating the right amount of each one. While it can be tedious when you start out, I think of it as a puzzle that I get to put together each day. Counting macros now takes me no longer than 5 minutes a day.
What is IIFYM?
You’ve probably seen the IIFYM hashtag. IIFYM stands for “If It Fits Your Macros”. The beauty of macros is that it offers people a flexible dieting option. No food is off limits – you can eat whatever you want to fill up your macros for the day. According to IIFYM, if you choose to eat 4 slices of pizza, queso, chips and ice cream to fill your macros, that’s totally fine. Obviously those foods are way more calorie dense, so if you choose to eat that way, you will actually be eating way less (volume-wise) than if you were to select more nutrient-dense foods like lean meats, fruits, grains, etc.
Counting macros does give you the freedom to eat what you want without restricting any specific foods, but I recommend following the 80-20 rule. I try to make sure that 80% of my food comes from healthy and natural sources like chicken breasts, oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, cheese, avocado, etc. Then, if I really want ice cream one night or am going out to eat, I can indulge a little bit while still hitting my macros and accomplishing my fitness goals.
How do I calculate my macros?
Online calculators can be very confusing and polarizing. Which one do I trust? Which one is correct? A macro coach is the way to go. I moved over to the Ledbetter Inc. family in October 2017 and could not be happier with Josh and Julie!
If you don’t want to spend money on a personalized set I’ve found that the best online calculator is the IIFYM macro calculator.
I could literally talk about macros for days, but tried to keep this pretty basic. Feel free to leave any other questions in the comments 🙂 .