So many diet plans these days say how you need to meet your “macros”, or how you need to get your “macro breakdown” correct to be able to lose weight the way you want. You may have questions such as: What is a macro? What’s a macros diet? How do you count macros?
Wait no longer, I’m going to answer all of these questions so you can feel confident in knowing, and figuring out what macros are to help you along with your healthy eating!
Macros, or macronutrients, are broken down into the types of foods you eat the most, namely carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Pretty easy, right? Let’s go over each in detail.
I bet you anything you’ve heard of people going on “no carb” diets. First of all, I promise you they aren’t doing that. Fruits, vegetables, and grains all contain carbohydrates, the amount just varies. Unless they’re eliminating all of those, they are eating carbohydrates in one form or another. Majority of the time, they are just eliminating grains, which are higher in carbs.
Now that I’m done with that rant, here’s the background on what carbs do and then I’ll go more into detail about the different types.
So carbs are your body’s main energy source. They provide what’s called glucose into muscles and into your bloodstream. How quickly the glucose goes into your bloodstream depends on the types of carbs you eat.
Simple vs. Complex Carbs
Carbohydrates can get broken down into simple and complex carbs. Simple carbs are foods that quickly raise your insulin levels, and turn into glucose fast.
Think refined sugars, candies, sodas, etc.
Complex carbohydrates take longer for your body to break down, thus raising your insulin levels at a somewhat steady pace.
For complex carbs, think of your gains, sweet potatoes, etc.
Fats also play an important part in having our bodies function properly. Not only do they help with keeping our hormones balanced, they also provide protection for our vital organs (which I, for one, am super grateful for!) Surprisingly enough, fats can also be used as a fuel source for our body!
For healthy fats, think your avocados, olive oils, nuts, etc.
Protein helps build your muscles and helps with muscle recovery! Protein can also be used as an energy source, but it’s normally the last energy source your body uses.
Whether you’re wanting to lose fat or gain muscle, you need protein. A lot of women think they’re going to get bulky if they lift heavy and eat protein but that’s just not the case. Promise. Eat your protein. If you’re vegetarian or vegan you can still get your protein in!
Healthy sources include chicken breast, egg whites, beans and lentils
What is a Macros Diet?
Now that we’ve covered what macros are, let’s dig into what a macros diet consists of. Majority of people who ‘count macros’ are doing If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM).
To put it simply, IIFYM is kind of like counting calories, but instead of focusing on hitting a certain number of calories, you are more concerned with hitting a specific number of carbs, proteins and fats.
The whole concept behind this diet is that you’re able to eat whatever you want, as long as you hit those certain numbers. If you want a more in depth look, check out this post.
How to Count Macros
Now this part, may seem a bit confusing at the beginning, but once you get the hang of calculating them and finding them on any nutrition label, you’ll be up to speed in no time!
So here’s the deal with macros, and nutrition in general. Everything is so custom to each individual person. There are so many different components to take into consideration like age, activity level, and your fitness goals.
What you’ll need to do is figure out what your macronutrient goals are. Thankfully, there are more than a handful of calculators you can use online. Simply type in macro calculator and you’re good to go.
Once you do that, you’ll probably get something that looks like this:
Protein: 135g, Carbohydrates: 180g, Fats: 40g
(just an FYI, yours may be WAY different than these numbers, roll with the ones you got! These are just for sake of explanation)
Okay. Now what to do with those numbers. Remember how I was saying there’s no calorie counting, you count macros? Here’s where these numbers comes in. These numbers right up there are the numbers you want to get as close to as possible, every day.
Notice, they’re in grams instead of calories (I bet you saw that already, you smart cookie, you!) How do you reach those numbers? By reading nutrition labels and I’d totally recommend an app that helps track whole foods.
Reading Nutrition Labels
Now that you know how to calculate your macros, and how many you need of each, let’s go over how to read nutrition labels to help you reach your specific macro breakdown. The following nutrition label is for Kashi’s Go Lean Cereal (which is suuuuper good, if I do say so myself). The things you need to pay attention to are the serving size, total fats, carbohydrates, and protein.
I know you’re probably automatically drawn to that calorie line, but remember, we’re not counting calories, we’re counting macros.
From this label, you can see the serving size of this oh so delish cereal is 1 1/4 cups (when you measure, because you WILL be measuring). You can also see the breakdown of the macros per serving: Protein = 12g (holla!), Carbohydrates = 40g, and Fats = 2g.
Plug those numbers into your meal tracker (pick one, there’s about 8 bazillion out there), and you’re good to go for that meal! Keep doing that for every meal, although I highly recommend planning ahead, and you are gol-den! Well on your way to hitting those weight goals!
Now that you know all the things about macros, which part of IIFYM sounds most appealing to try?
Until next time,