Learn How To Count and Understand Macros
Time to read 4 min
Time to read 4 min
Macros, also known as macronutrients, are an essential part of living a healthy life. However, it’s hard to look at a piece of fruit or a snack on the shelf and immediately know how it will affect your body and your health journey. That’s why you should learn how to count and understand macros. When you fully understand the macros that make up the food you’re eating, you can better understand your own health and what you need to eat to live a healthy life.
The first part of counting macros is to understand what the word macro means in this context. In the world of health and nutrition, macro is short for macronutrient, and there are three categories of macronutrients in every piece of food you eat:
Each piece of food has these macronutrients, and when you want to live a healthy life, you need to understand how much of each is in the food you’re eating. It may seem wild to say that each gram of protein, carbs, or fat you consume makes a significant impact, but they do.
The reason people look at macros when they’re trying to live healthier is because each person has different goals in their health journeys. With these different goals, they’ll need to adjust their macros accordingly. For example, someone may want to lose fat, while someone else may want to retain or build muscle during workouts. Each of these goals has different macronutrient requirements, and when you’re planning, you can set different macro targets for yourself.
With a targeted health goal, you can properly proportion your diets to meet your needs. If you try counting macros with no clear goal, you’ll just have numbers and nothing to do with them. Different goals have different protein, fat, and carbohydrate ratios, and finding the one that works for you is essential to reaching your health goals.
Now that you have a clearer picture of what macros are, you may wonder how you count them. Well, each item of food you eat has a certain number of calories, and some of those calories come from fat, others from protein, and others from carbohydrates. Here is where health turns into some different math equations.
For carbohydrates, you’ll need to account for the calories that come from sugar, starches, and fiber. Your body will break down these carbs into glucose, which your body stores in the form of glycogen. Typically, a gram of carbohydrates is about four calories, and for most people, this is the largest part of their caloric intake. You can find a lot of carbohydrates in grains, dairy, beans, and vegetables.
For protein, much like carbs, there are about four calories per gram. Proteins are important for balancing hormones and enzymes and building tissues in the body. Some food items that are rich in protein include tofu, lentils, seeds, and fish.
Fats typically have nine calories per gram. These macronutrients are the most calorically dense, and they are important for energy boosts, hormone production, and nutrient absorption. Fat has a bad reputation, but good fats can do a lot for your body and your health. Foods like avocados, nuts, seeds, and oils are all rich in fats.
After understanding how you can count your macros and calories, it’s time to determine the percentage of calories you’ll use in your diet. Depending on your health goals, whether it’s to lose weight or build muscle, and your weight, age, and activity level, you’ll have different calorie needs. Those with little activity looking to maintain their weight won’t eat nearly as much as someone who’s active and putting on muscle.
If you’re looking to maintain your weight and stay on the healthier side of things, a normal level of activity is important, so work out a few times every week. However, in addition to this activity, you should also monitor your macros. About 45–65 percent of your daily calories should be carbohydrates, fats should be 20–35 percent, and protein should be 10–35 percent.
While that’s the standard macro percentages you should have in a healthy diet, you can change the percentages around for different things. For example, if you want to retain more muscle while losing weight, you’ll ideally consume more fats and protein than carbohydrates, but you won’t consume as much as you would if you’re solely focusing on building muscle.
If your sole focus is on weight loss, your macros will need to be 30 percent protein, 30 percent fats, and 40 percent carbs. For muscle gain, you can move things around depending on whether you want to be leaner, with 40 percent of calories being carbs and protein and 20 percent for fat, or beefier, with 35 percent protein and fat and 30 percent carbs. Alternatively, if you’re more interested in endurance and cardio, consider 60 percent carbs, 20 percent fat, and 20 percent protein.
While measuring out your macros can seem like an extensive process, there are a few quick ways you can get many of the same benefits of macro counting without the same hassle. For example, you should try to supplement your diet with a lot of protein-rich foods, but how do you know if the protein in something outweighs the other calories from fat and carbohydrates?
Well, a good rule of thumb is to take the amount of protein in some food and multiply it by 10. If it’s a good source of protein, then this number should just about equal the number of calories in the food or exceed it. Some excellent sources of protein that also have the right amount of fats and carbohydrates are tempeh, beans, seeds, broccoli, and cabbage.
Another quick tip is to opt for less processed foods. There are healthy foods on store shelves that come in boxes and packages, but they’re typically in a sea of hyper-processed foods that will weigh you down. Instead of solely focusing on macros, avoid these processed foods and stick to more natural foods that you could hunt, grow, or forage yourself. A plate full of fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts, and whole grains is one that is sure to help you stay both full and healthy.
Everyone’s health is different, but that doesn’t mean learning how to count and understand macros won’t help in their respective health journeys. These macros make an incredible difference, but if you want to go even further, let CorVive help you. We’re the health supplement store with everything you’ll need to take care of your body and achieve your health goals.