What are macros feature image

What are Macros & How to count them

I have spoken before about falling off the food wagon and mastering my food has been the main challenge of my weight loss journey. Because of this I am always looking for ways to ensure I don’t fall “down the rabbit hole” and so that I can work towards my goals.

Recently I have found that macros can help to keep me accountable and also focus on the type of food I am putting into my body so that I am healthier overall! You don’t have to be trying to lose weight, you could be maintaining, bulking or just trying to improve your diet but they are a useful tool for understanding the make-up of what we put in our bodies.

HOWEVER, there is A LOT of information out there on macros and it can be hard to figure it all out so I thought I would write a handy beginner guide so that you know the basics to get you started.

First off, what is a ‘macro’? Some of you may know, but if you’ve found me by searching “how do I count macros” then you likely need a short lesson. Without getting too technical, macros, or macronutrients, are what make up the caloric value of any given food.

What does this mean? Well, there are three generally accepted groups of macros – carbs, fats, and proteins. The combination of these three things is what is used to basically come up with the caloric property of foods. A lot of nutritionists recommend actually counting macros instead of calories because 200 calories from a salad is definitely not worth the same to your body as a 200 calorie mars bar! Here’s a really simple breakdown that is a good starting point for roughly working these things out, although you can get calculator apps on your phone, you may want to go old school.

  • 1 gram of fat is equal to about 9 calories.
  • 1 gram of carbs is equal to about 4 calories.
  • 1 gram of protein is equal to about 4 calories too.

So, If you’re trying to diet or eat a little healthier, you may be better off counting macros. To put it simply, it’s not about how many calories are in your food, rather, what kind of calories. If you’re trying to burn fat and you’re still eating the wrong kind of calories, you may start to lose muscle mass too (or instead)! That’s where it gets a little more technical and you can read more on that later. Let’s get to the reason you’re here!

How Do I Count Macros?

Counting macros is similar to counting calories. If you have 100 calories of avocado and 100 calories of doughnut, you’re still only having a 100 calorie snack that will help you lose weight right? If you’re just counting calories, then, of course, that’s what you would believe because they are “worth” the same. However, the 100 calories of avocado which come from the high fat content are much better than the 100 calories of doughnut that come from carbs. Here are some simple ways to count your macros and stay on track with your diet.

When you’re counting up your macros for the day, you just add up how many grams of each category, for each food item you ate. So you’ll take the amount from the fat, protein and carbs that you ate throughout the day and add them up. If you keep them separated (like in a food journal) into three separate columns you can start to easily see which one you favor (for me it was carbs and fat! and that was partly the problem) and if you’re intaking more of one macro than the other. Some diets, for example, recommend having low carb intake. If you’re counting calories you likely aren’t seeing what kind of macros you’re actually getting. So, how do you find out how many macros are in each food?

You can use different percentages but I started on the 40/40/20 (40% carbs, 40% Protein, 20% fat) ratio just to see where I was at and to increase my protein intake and reduce the fat to eat healthier and feel fuller. You can easily adjust these ratios according to your diet, whether you need more protein or carbs for bulking, less carbs for your diet or you just want to lose a few pounds and improve the type of food you are eating!

Where Do I Find the Macros for Foods I’m Eating?

First, you’ll want to look at the nutritional facts on the packaging of your food. Look at the serving size and go from there. If the suggested serving size of crisps is 10 but you actually ate 20 then you need to double all of the nutritional facts on the package. If the nutritional panel says that there are 2 grams of fat per serving, you’ve just had 4 grams, because with the doubled serving, you’ll have doubled the intake of macros too.

Keeping track of these number visually will help you see if you start to get a little too much fat, or carbs, and allow you to see where you need to cut back. If you need to cut back on carbs, you’ll know within a few days of counting your macros.

Ultimately it is all about finding the right balance and eating healthily, so now over to you. Do you count your macros? What ratios do you use and why? Let me know down in the comments! I’d love to have a chat with you!

You may also be interested in these Pinterest boards:

Macros can be confusing but I give you a simple beginner guide on what they are and how to count them to improve your health and diet

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Written by Charlotte

Founder at The Mummy Toolbox

29 Comments

  • Amanda Rosson (#)
    January 5th, 2017

    Thank you so much for your this informative post!! I’ve always wondered what macros were! I’m definitely planning on eating better this year and think I’ll give this counting macros thing a try ^^

  • Amy (#)
    January 5th, 2017

    This post was very informative! I have tried counting calories before and you are totally right just because two things have the same amount does not mean they are equal in healthiness.

  • Vaishnavi (#)
    January 4th, 2017

    This is so interesting. I’ve never known about macros. Eating healthy is one of my favorite goals this year. So this is a helpful information for me, just in time!

  • Stephanie (#)
    January 4th, 2017

    Great explanation. I used to count macros before I got pregnant and it was one of the healthiest times of my life!

  • Brittany (#)
    January 4th, 2017

    This was just the article i needed to read today! My family and I just started doing the Keto diet and wow theres so much to learn!

  • Di (#)
    January 4th, 2017

    I don’t tend to count macros or calories much anymore. I can eyeball and know what the ave macro content is. I will say that avocado beats donut purely because it’s a whole food, macro’s aside whole foods win hands down for me!

  • Katya | Style Sprinter (#)
    January 3rd, 2017

    I just started exercising with a personal trainer and he suggested logging all macros in My Fitness Pal app as it calculates exactly what is your carbs-proteins-fats percentage and also keep track of all the vitamins and minerals you are consuming. Honestly, it’s so much time to log in every single item you eat, but I still believe that it worth it. For instance, this app taught me that I’m eating too much sugar and I’m trying on working towards eliminating this bad habit.

  • Debra Schroeder (#)
    January 3rd, 2017

    Nope, I don’t count macros. It seems like a lot of math and work. But if it gets results or if there were an app, I’d be so there.

  • Chelsea Damon (#)
    January 3rd, 2017

    This is really informative and helpful! We stopped counting calories a long time ago and more often now just watch our sugar intake and try to avoid really carby foods as a whole

  • Amanda Love (#)
    January 3rd, 2017

    I’ve never thought about doing this before. It’s quite an interesting way to watch what you eat. It might take some getting used to but it sounds rewarding!

  • Jennifer (JenuineMom) (#)
    January 3rd, 2017

    This is the first I’ve heard of macros and counting them, too. Interesting idea! Thanks for this information — getting healthier is one of my 2017 goals.

  • reesa (#)
    January 3rd, 2017

    I’ve heard this to be very successful for a lot of people. Thank you for the information, I had no idea what it was and how to do it.

  • Ana De- Jesus (#)
    January 3rd, 2017

    Wow. I had no idea that it was more beneficial to count macros than calories!

  • Anna nuttall (#)
    January 3rd, 2017

    I never heard of Marcos before, however you explained it in such a way that I want to start doing this as it would help me a lot!

  • Caitlin (#)
    January 3rd, 2017

    I have a friend who counts macros and has been very successful… I wish you lots of luck on your journey! Happy New Year 🙂

  • Debra (#)
    January 3rd, 2017

    Wow, I didn’t even know what a marcos was? I really feel that eating healthy is a lifestyle and want and healthier new year! I can’t wait

  • Bianca Jenson (#)
    January 3rd, 2017

    I have never heard of macros had no clue of what it was. Thank you so much for the explanation it’s good to know.

  • Krystel @ Planning The Magic (#)
    January 3rd, 2017

    I had to pin this to be able to come back to because this is super interesting. I am like everyone else where I just count calories. Love this!

  • Heather (#)
    January 3rd, 2017

    This info is new to me, but sounds very useful. I like that it helps you break down better where the calories are coming from as not all calories are created equally.

  • Angela Tolsma (#)
    January 2nd, 2017

    You’ve explained macros in a very good way. I’ve never tracked those, but I do my calories, mostly though it’s to make sure I eat enough in a day!

  • Joanna @ Everyday Made Fresh (#)
    January 2nd, 2017

    I saw this blow up on Instagram this past year. I love the whole concept! I would rather eat whatever I want and be able to just count macros as opposed to skipping a whole food group.

  • Julie Porter (#)
    January 2nd, 2017

    I guess I do count Macros in a way, though I didn’t know that it was called that. We count carbs in my household because my husband is a type 1 diabetic. He needs to know how many carbs he is eating at any one time in order to dose his insulin through his insulin pump.

  • Kecia (#)
    January 2nd, 2017

    I have heard about macros before, but I wasn’t really sure what they were or how to count them. This post has been most helpful! I can see that the difference in calories is important. You want to make sure the calories you are eating are healthy ones.

  • Laura (#)
    January 2nd, 2017

    This is really interesting to know! Thank you for also including some Pinterest Board suggestions, I am always looking for healthy inspiration!

  • Karen (#)
    January 2nd, 2017

    I honestly never heard of macros, but really interesting. I am curious about looking more into this for my healthy eating routine …so thats good to know!

  • Brandi Puga (#)
    January 2nd, 2017

    This is great way to lose weight for sure. I personally, can’t follow my food so closely though, it just makes me obsessive and causes other problems. haha. good luck in the new year!

  • Theresa (#)
    January 2nd, 2017

    I’m so new to the idea of counting macros! Thanks for the thorough explanation. It makes much more sense now.

  • Catherine (#)
    January 2nd, 2017

    Wow, I had no ideas about counting macros! This makes total sense though! Perfect timing for the new year since one of my goals is to get back on track with healthy eating and fitness for 2017. Happy new year!

  • Heather (#)
    January 2nd, 2017

    Oh goodness, I didn’t even realize you could count macros…I am striving to be healthier this year, but tend to use the crowd out method as my food method of choice – lots of fruits and veggies 🙂

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