What Are The Macros? Why you should be tracking and counting them.
Author : Amal Rahiman
Macros seem to be a word that is everywhere. Almost everybody in the fitness world seems to be talking about if their meals or snacks “fit their macros”.
But what are macros, and why do we need to care?
Usually while dieting, people seem to make note of their calorie intake and adjust their workout regimes accordingly. The common belief of “burning more calories than what you consume” tends to make people calorie-conscious, and thus paves the way for fad diets, or diets where a food group is completely avoided (carbs being the most common one).
This is not always a bad thing, but we need to take a look at how effective it is, and if it is healthy.
Calories are our source of energy. They are made up of 3 macronutrients, or macros – carbohydrates, proteins, and fat.
Now everybody agrees that protein is good and is the most important part of building muscle, but carbs have got a bad name, and let’s not even talk about the reputation of fats.
But recent research has proven that cutting off an entire food group from your diet does more harm than good. While eating in moderation is a healthy habit, do ensure that you are getting your daily dose of important nutrients from every food group.
This is where counting macros come in. By making note of our macro intake, we make sure that our body gets a dose of carbs, proteins, and fats, in healthy amounts. This is called macro dieting, flexible dieting, or IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros).
Macro counting is more of a lifestyle than a diet regime. It allows you to eat what you like, in a quantity that fits your fitness goals. No foods are excluded from this diet, and you are free to choose your favorite source of carbs, proteins, and fat.
What this means is that if you have a craving for pizza, you can go ahead and enjoy your pizza, provided you reduce your carbs and fat for the rest of the day. If the pizza fulfills 80% of your carb intake for that day, then simply ensure that for the remainder of your day your carbs are limited to just 20% (by eating a low-carb meal).
Since the diet does not restrict you from eating junk, it is up to you to eat in moderation and keep an eye on what you are consuming. You can lose weight even if you simply consume McDonald’s for all your 3 meals. If you work out and burn the calories you consumed, you will not gain any excess weight. However, your body is not getting healthy nutritious food, and this can cause other health issues in the long run. Be aware that you can look healthy, but still be malnourished. This is why it is always recommended to consult a dietician or do extensive research, before making major dietary changes.
We are going to get slightly technical here, so pay close attention.
BMR, or Basal Metabolic Rate, is the amount of energy expended by our body for all internal activities (such as digesting, breathing, maintaining body temperature). In other words, it is the energy needed to keep us alive, even when we are not moving.
To figure out your BMR, you can manually calculate using the Mifflin-St. Jeor equation –
- Men: calories/day = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) + 5
- Women: calories/day = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) – 161
Once you know this figure, you must multiply it with an activity level. This is a number that is given to different levels of external activity:
Sedentary = BMR x 1.2 (minimal movement/exercise)
Lightly active = BMR x 1.375 (limited exercise > 3 days/week)
Moderately active = BMR x 1.55 (moderate exercise/sports > 7 days/week)
Very active = BMR x 1.725 (intensive workouts everyday)
Extra active = BMR x 1.9 (intensive workouts > 2 times in one day)
The final figure is your TDEE – your Total Daily Energy Expenditure. This is the total energy you have expended in one day, including external and internal body activities.
Your TDEE is the number of total calories you should consume in a day, either to maintain your weight or to reach your weight goals.
This figure can also easily be calculated through this online calculator.
What is the Ideal Macro Ratio?
Your ideal ratio varies depending on your fitness goals.
For instance, if your goal is to gain more weight, you will have to increase your total amount of calories. Within your calories, you can concentrate more on your protein and healthy fat intake.
On the other hand, if your goal is to lose weight, your daily calorie intake should be reduced, thereby reducing your daily macros as well.
In the above instances, we are assuming that there is no workout, or movement is limited. If a workout regime is also in place, then the calories will again have to be revised accordingly. If the workout is intense, then the calorie intake increases – irrespective of whether you want to gain or lose weight.
Once you know your daily calorie requirement, a recommended macro ratio is; 45-65% of Carbs, 20-35% of Fats, and 10-35% of Proteins. This ratio in whole should be equal to your daily calorie intake.
Measuring Food Intake
Now you know what macros are, and how to count them.
But how do you keep a track of your macro intake?
The simplest method is to keep a log of all the foods you are eating. You can either use an app like MyFitnessPal, or you can use a digital food scale and weigh your food before consuming it.
This may seem like too much work in the beginning, but it gets easier once you get into the routine.
The benefits of macro dieting are many and supersede those of fad diets. Macro dieting allows you to take 100% control over your entire diet and workout regime, and provides you with the most effective results, in a shorter (and healthier) timeframe.
Disclaimer: The content provided in this article is provided for information purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice and consultation, including professional medical advice and consultation; it is provided with the understanding that Herbivo Pvt. Ltd. is not engaged in the provision or rendering of medical advice or services. The opinions and content included in the article are the views of the author only, and Herbivo does not endorse or recommend any such content or information, or any product or service mentioned in the article. You understand and agree that Herbivo shall not be liable for any claim, loss, or damage arising out of the use of, or reliance upon any content or information in the article.