Wondering what macro counting is + if it’s something you should be doing?
Just like calorie counting, macro counting helps you reach weight goals, whether you want to lose, gain, or maintain.
But, macro counting is a more detailed way of counting calories so you can get more focused on understanding the types of nutrients going into your body throughout each day.
Right now, I am currently using macro counting on my own health + fitness journey. I have been chatting about it a lot on my Instagram [follow me HERE!] + have been getting lots of questions about it.
So, I decided to put a post together about the basics of macro counting + exactly how I am doing it!
In this blog post, I go over:
- What are macros?
- What is macro counting?
- How do you figure out your macros?
- When should you count macros?
MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE COUNTING MACROS
- My past experience counting macros
- Why I am counting macros right now
- Where + how often I track them
- What I have noticed in just 1 week
MACRO COUNTING 101
WHAT ARE MACROS?
The term “macros” is just short for the word macronutrients. The three macronutrients that are focused on when typically counting macros to reach wellness goals are:
WHAT IS MACRO COUNTING?
Counting the number of macros you eat each day is a tool that people can use to either gain weight/muscle, maintain weight, or lose weight. It’s a lot like calorie counting, but it goes a step further. Unlike calorie counting, the purpose of focusing on macros is to put an emphasis on balancing what you eat throughout the day.
If you look at the nutrition facts on any food item, you will see a breakdown for the 3 main macronutrients in terms of grams. That’s how macros are tracked. You figure out your macro ratio for all three [out of 100%] + you do your best to track your food intake + hit those gram ratios throughout the day.
The idea of macro counting typically goes along with people telling you that you can eat whatever you want “as long as it fits your macros.” But, it’s still important to practice the 80/20 rule + opt for quality foods whenever possible to get the best results.
HOW DO YOU FIGURE OUT YOUR MACROS?
There are 2 ways to calculate your macros:
- You can use online calculators like this one, this one, or this one.
- OR, you can do it manually [which I prefer] so you can best understand the breakdown of your numbers.
There are many websites out there to help you manually figure out your macros — some slightly different than others! THIS is the one I used for calculating my macros.
- Related: 13 PORTION CONTROL HACKS
WHEN SHOULD YOU COUNT MACROS?
I recommend counting your macros when you want to focus on tightening up your healthy eating habits. It will force you to read more food labels, which will lead to you making healthier food choices in the future — that’s why I love it! Also, it will help you create more balance in the way you prepare your meals throughout the day.
You can do it as little or as long-term as you would like. But, like any diet-like activity, it isn’t sustainable for life. I like tracking macros for maybe 2-6 weeks at a time, max, as an analysis tool for my habits.
Once you track macros for a few weeks, you get the idea of how many macros/calories you’re typically eating in a sitting [we often eat the same 5 meals for each breakfast, lunch, dinner, + snack!]. So, you end up balancing your meals without needing to track closely.
Tracking macros isn’t the “end all be all” of healthy eating habits. It should be used alongside as a tool while you work on creating habits like meal planning, meal prepping, batch cooking, portion controlling, reading food labels, etc. Those will ensure more long-term success with weight loss + healthy eating.
MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH MACRO COUNTING
PAST EXPERIENCE COUNTING MACROS
I counted macros about 5-6 years ago before I was married while I was still trying to figure out how to create long-term healthy eating habits. Counting my macronutrients gave me more insight into the foods I was choosing every day, how balanced I was eating throughout the day, + how to be in a calorie deficit for fat loss.
I lost about 5lb while counting macros for about 5-6 weeks. More importantly, it helped me get into learning how to read food labels — which I was such a newbie at back then! Personally, that was much more rewarding than losing the 5lb because it’s helped me build a long-term healthy eating habit that I still use every day.
WHY I AM COUNTING MACROS RIGHT NOW
I have about 10lb of baby weight to lose [I am 5 weeks postpartum!] + want to focus right now on making sure my food choices are balanced, while I am also eating in a small deficit. I am currently breastfeeding, so I am not trying to lose the 10lb fast + potentially compromise my supply.
Therefore, I wouldn’t consider this much of a diet. It’s a tool for me to use to tighten up my eating habits + make better choices for optimal body functioning. Especially since I will be adding weight training back into my routine very soon!
**I added 400 calories to my daily caloric intake to account for breastfeeding + divided the macros accordingly.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, please note that I am not a doctor and you should always speak to yours beforehand to see if this is right for you!
- Related: THE BEST PRODUCTS FOR MEAL PREPPING
WHERE + HOW OFTEN I AM TRACKING MY MACROS
I am using My Fitness Pal to track my macros about 5-7 days a week for 4-6 weeks.
In the beginning, it’s a good amount of tracking — about 10-20 minutes a day to put the information in. But, once you have your main foods/meals in you can save them + quickly apply them to future days!
So, it ends up taking less than 5 minutes a day to input the food logs once you put in about a week of tracking. The best part is the bar code scanning feature that allows you to track food so fast!
I am personally tracking 5-7 days a week with 90% accuracy — meaning, I am not treating it like a hardcore diet at ALL. I cannot emphasize enough that this is a tool for me + I am not trying to dramatically lose weight right now. So, it takes the pressure off!
*Note: if you are trying to lose weight specifically, I would recommend being as accurate as you can with measuring + logging to get optimal results.
WHAT I HAVE ALREADY NOTICED IN 1 WEEK
In just 1 week of tracking I have noticed that I actually do a great job getting in my protein most days — which I was really surprised about! But, it also revealed to me that I need to try to eat more carbs + less fats throughout the day because my numbers were way off.
I was kind of shocked because I LOVE carbs + thought that’s where I was going over. But, nope! Guess fats are my weakness. Even though I choose mostly very healthy fats, calories are calories + I am consuming more than my body needs for optimal functioning. So, I am finding ways to slowly shift to create more balance in my meals.
I also realized some days I am below the calorie intake I need to feed both me + make enough breastmilk. So, I am trying to make sure I work up to that!