Embarking on a diet means there are many things you have to track depending on the diet. Of course, all diets are different, and you still need your daily vitamins, but many of them are concerned with calorie and macro counting that can help you understand your food intake so you can better implement healthier choices.
If you’ve ever counted calories, counting macros will be easy. Instead of counting just your calories, you’ll be tracking the macronutrients that make up the food you take in as well as overall calories. While this can seem like a lot of counting and tracking, it gets easier as tracking macros becomes part of your daily calorie-tracking routine.
Counting Macros for Beginners
Weight loss requires dedication, and thanks to tracking apps and online resources, losing weight is easier than ever before. While there’s no secret weight loss strategy that will work for everyone, one thing many successful diets have in common is they force you to take a look at the foods you’re eating.
While dieting is quite hard, it comes down to one simple fact: You need to understand how many calories you’re consuming and how many you’re burning within a day. Calories are made up of macronutrients, including fat, carbs, and protein, all of which play a role in your body. Here are tips for counting macros.
Determine Your Goal
Counting macros is great for all types of weight-focused goals, including weight loss and gain. After you figure out your goal, you’ll need to figure out how many calories you’re burning every day. Many online resources can help you determine how many calories you burn, but most people burn at least 1500 each day, and more active individuals can burn well over 2000 calories per day.
Once you know how many calories you burn each day, you can subtract up to 500 calories to give you the total amount of calories you should consume each day to lose weight. If you need help figuring out these amounts, you can talk to a nutritionist or personal trainer who can help you determine just how many calories you should be consuming.
It’s important to note you should not cut too many calories as it can be unsafe for you to eat fewer calories than you need for your body to function properly.
Divide Up the Calories
Let’s say you typically burn 2000 calories per day and want to lose weight, so you’ve decided to consume 1500 calories total. Those 1500 calories will be divided up into the three macronutrients. Healthy distribution of your calories consists of:
- 45-65% of calories from carbs
- 20-35% of calories from fats
- 10-35% of calories from protein
If you’re not quite sure what’s right for you, you can choose which percentages you believe will be most manageable for you based on your weight and goals and do trial and error. You can also consult a nutritionist or your primary care physician if you’d like a more detailed plan.
Your calorie distribution might also depend on the type of diet you’re on and/or exercise plan. For example, if you’re on a low-carb diet, your calorie distribution may end up with only 30% of your calories coming from carbs. Other diets, such as the Keto diet, might count net carbs instead of carbs, so you must understand the general guidelines for a particular diet before you begin distributing your calories.
It can also be helpful to know how many calories macros have so you don’t have to worry too much about doing difficult math. Each macronutrient has a specific number of calories per gram:
- Carbs: 4 calories per gram
- Protein: 4 calories per gram
- Fat: 9 calories per gram
Use a Macro Counting App
If math sounds like too much work for you, consider using a calorie counter that includes macros so you can easily keep track of everything without having to worry about multiplication. There are many calorie tracking apps out there, so make sure you choose one that can help you understand your calorie intake and specifically highlight macronutrients.
Calorie counting apps can help you more accurately track calories, including calories from macros so you can stick to your diet. Unfortunately, many diets often fail because people estimate their calories and never write anything down, so they don’t actually know how many calories they’ve consumed in a day.
A calorie tracking app holds you accountable for tracking everything you put into your body and shows you what your entire day has looked like with easy-to-understand graphs and numbers so you don’t have to do any math on your own.
Counting macros can be difficult if you’re someone who mindlessly snacks while at work or in front of the television. Meal prepping allows you to simplify your nutrition to know everything you’ll eat throughout the week and plan. Instead of grabbing the first thing you see in the kitchen, you’ll be able to have your macros planned for the week and won’t have to calculate something new every single day.
Focus on Progress
Just like regular calorie counting, macro counting doesn’t have to be a perfect science. There’s no reason to punish yourself if you ate more carbs than you should have. Unfortunately, many dieters get so focused on counting they lose sight of their goals, making food more about numbers on an app or scale instead of overall physical health.
If your macro distribution tells you that you should only eat 120 carbs each day and you eat 150 carbs one day, there’s no reason to subtract 30 carbs from the next day unless you truly want to keep things even.
Remember, counting macros is about finding more ways to improve your health and reach your weight loss goals; it should not become something that takes up too much time or space in your mind.
Tracking macros isn’t necessary to reach your health goals, and it can be time-consuming to manage all of the different numbers. However, tracking macronutrients can help you improve your athletic performance and hold you accountable for your own weight loss goals. It can also help you understand how your body feels after making small adjustments in the types of food you eat.
No matter the reason you track macros, the most important thing you can do is to keep an open mind and focus on your progress rather than the numbers you see on your tracking app or a piece of paper.