What’s the deal with Macro Counting?
I have been counting macro’s for a while now about 6 months and it has made a world of difference in my diet. I also recently just passed my nutrition class at school so that makes me an authority on macro’s, right? Nope, but I am going to let you in on my notes from my personal research.
According to my textbook Visualizing Nutrition Everyday Choices, macros are “Carbohydrates, lipids (aka fats. Proteins, and water.” I am not including alcohol although it is a macro it is not a nutrient required to live. It does contain calories which is why it is a macro but let’s try to keep it out of our count. These are all considered macronutrients and what we need in large amounts. There are also micronutrients which are vitamins and minerals and we only need a little that is why they are micro.
So, when someone is counting macro’s they are measuring their Carbohydrate, Fat, and Protein.
Let’s tackle that monster first! Should I eat them? Shouldn’t I? Please do eat Carbs. The purpose of Carbohydrates are to fuel our bodies with energy. They are stored in the liver, brain, blood and muscles as glycogen. You can get carbohydrates from: Starches, sugars and fiber.
You can get carbohydrates from:
- Steel Cut Oats
- Sweet Potatoes/Yams
- Brown Rice
- White Rice
- Whole Wheat Bread
- Ezekiel bread
- Cream Of Wheat
- Cream of Rice
You can also get them from processed foods and drinks but since you’re trying to make healthier choices stick to Whole foods.
How much is enough?
We all are different, Thank God. It can range from zero-700 grams per day. The daily recommendation 130 grams of carb per day. If you are counting macro’s I would go to a macro calculator. When taking into account your macro numbers there is usually activity level, body weight, body fat percentages and goals.
A range that I saw consistently was .5-2 grams per pound of lean body mass. Lean body mass everything (including organs, blood, bones, muscle and skin) that is not body fat.
Body-Fat = Lean Body Mass
The Lean Body Mass Formula:
Body Weight- (Body Weight x Body Fat Percentage) = Lean Body Mass
Or you can use an automatic calculator.
Before we go back to Macro’s, Lean Body Mass is a good thing to know. It will help you to track changes that you have in your Body Fat versus whether the scale decides to behave or not it can give you a more accurate idea of weight loss! It also helps to make sure you are just losing your fat and not muscle too!
Protein assist you in building muscles if consumed correctly it can also prevent muscle loss if you have a calorie deficit. Protein has also been linked to controlling appetite and helps keep you full longer better than fats and carbohydrates do. Another thing about protein is that it requires a lot more energy to digest than other macro nutrients. It has been said that protein is a good example of effective calorie burning gram for gram. That is why a lot of high-protein diets have been associated with better fat loss.
You can get your protein from both vegetables and/or animal sources:
- Skinless Chicken Breast or Cutlets
- Lean Turkey
- Top Round
- Steak Filet Mignon
- Cottage Cheese
- Pork Tenderloin
- Wild Sea Bass Wild Swordfish
- Hemp Seed
How much is enough?
Again, this is all dependent on YOU! Your weight, body fat percentage and goals need to be accounted.
A consistent range that I found was .5 grams-2 grams per pound of lean body mass.
According to Authority Nutrition, “The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. This amounts to: 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man. 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman.”
You weigh 140 lbs. and you are at 25% body fat, your lean body mass will be
140 – (140*25%) = 140-32.50 = 107.5 is your Lean body Mass what is left AFTER the body fat.
108 x .5 g of protein = 54 grams of protein. If you planned on consuming .5 grams of protein per day for your goals. That is why with macro’s-goals matters!
Despite the low-fat nonsense you see in the store. Fat can be good! Say what? Yep, we absolutely need fat to survive it helps us with vitamin absorption, hormones and their regulation, keeps our brain functioning properly among some of the things which are pretty important.
How much is enough?
Always asking this question, huh? Well we all know too much is too much but how much is enough? Good question but guess what that depends on? Yep, you got it your body wright, body fat percentage and your goals.
A consistent range is 15-45% or .35-.7 grams per pound of lean body mass. That can be calculated just like the protein.
Although, a lot of people give that range. According to Health.gov, you should strive for “a total fat intake of no more than 30 percent of calories, as recommended in previous editions of the Guidelines”
You can get good sources of fat and poor just like any other macro nutrient.
- Olive Oil
- Flaxseed Oil
- Fish Oil
- Almond Butter/
- Cashew Butter
- Natural Peanut Butter
What does all this mean?
When someone is counting their macro’s they are tracking the Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fats they eat in a day versus calories. Now each macro nutrient has caloric value but we’re not going to get into that.
When counting your macros as long as you focus on the grams of macro nutrients and use an amount according to your goals. With the information from a nutrition label instead of counting calories you can create your Macros:
This is an example of how although you are counting macro’s it still equals your calories. Why? Calories are the amount of energy food gives you. Macronutrients are where the calories come from they are the nutrients that give you energy.
Is there any other things that need to be counted when calculating macro’s? No!
· Saturated Fat
· Dietary Fibers
· Added Sugars
· All the Vitamins, Calcium, Iron and Potassium are Micro nutrients so, not these either.
What do I do if it doesn’t have a label?
Google it! My Fitness Pal it, get a really educated idea of the macros in your apple, chicken breast, or baked potato. Gift of modern day technology. You can track everything on My Fitness Pal if you like. I just wanted to break it down so you understand what the macro’s look like and are coming from.
Still concerned? Or, Ready to try?
For those who are still concern I will address a few issues I had at first!
This seems complicated why not just track my calories? Macro tracking or counting helps you make sure that the weight that your losing is not the muscle you have worked so hard to gain, you aren’t having hormonal issues because you’re consuming adequate amounts of fat, you performance won’t suffer because although you are reducing calories do you know if you’re getting the adequate amount of carbohydrates to fuel your workout?
You can remain counting calories but if you’re looking to improve your health and maintain your muscle definition and work to your bodies best ability because it is fueled with the adequate macro nutrients for today. It’ s really up to you I say at least give it a try!
Do you use macro’s? Have you heard of counting macro’s ?
Grosvenor, Mary B. Visualizing Nutrition Everyday Choices. 2nd ed. Hoboken: Wiley Visualizing, 2012. Print.
http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocument sRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm385663.htm http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?Rec ordID=10490 http://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/Reports/2004/DietaryReference-Intakes-Water-Potassium-Sodium-Chloride-andSulfate.aspx