Counting your macros? What does that even mean? #IIFYM
There are (3) macronutrients: Proteins, Carbohydrates (aka carbs), and Fats (scientifically knowns as lipids but who cares about that anyway?).
Proteins build, maintain, and replace tissues in the body. As scientists know it now, protein is broken down into 22 amino acids, 13 of which can be made by the body. You must get the other (9) (essential amino acids) from the food you eat. These can also be supplemented with BCAAs.
Carbs are broken down into sugars and starches and fiber that provide energy for the body.
Fats are another source of energy for the body in addition to providing functionality in other parts of the body. Fats come in many forms.
Now that you know what the macronutrients are, you can learn how to count them. In understanding how to count calories and macronutrients, you must know that 1 gram of protein is 4 calories, 1 gram of carbohydrate is also 4 calories, and 1 gram of fats is 9 calories. This is very relevant when understanding how your calories break down. If you buy, for example, an apple that is approximately (keep in mind that nutrition labels are always estimates) 80 calories, then you know that that apple is about 20 grams of carbs.
But not every food is that easy. Some foods are made up of all 3 macronutrients! Most of the time, though, with today’s cell phone apps, you don’t need to do any calculating. You just need to know the calorie number you need to hit and how that correlates with your macronutrients.
A very general rule of thumb is to maintain your macros around 25-35% fats, 40-60% from carbs, and 10-30% from protein. Keep in mind that this is very different from person-to-person and is dependent upon your personal goals. There’s isn’t a ‘one size fits all,’ here.
So why is counting your macros great?
It’s flexible. The flexibility with IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) allows you to eat whatever you want as long as it fits your macros and calories. Craving pasta today? Just find out the nutritional content of your dish of choice and log it in your app! This helps eliminate the guilt around food and allows you to enjoy all foods!
You can constantly tweak your macros to see what option and percentage of each macro give you your desired results (Be Aware: Over-tweaking your macro goals may result in frustration and lack of results).
Many restaurants have their menu on macro-counting apps! How easy is it to just log in, search your restaurant (by location or name!), find your dish, and click ‘done.’ Wow! Simplicity at its finest.
You can actually see what your diet looks like. Not only do many apps show you what carb, protein, and fat intake look like but they also show you sodium, sugar, vitamins, etc. This is really relevant and plays an important role in your fitness goals as these vitamins and minerals can have a large impact on weight loss or muscle gain.
Are you working with a trainer who provided you with macros? Just set your goals within your app and start tracking! It’s very simple.
I do recommend you work with a professional in obtaining your macros. Many apps will ‘auto-set’ your macros according to your goals but keep in mind that these apps don’t know your body, hormones, current life stressors, etc. But a trainer can know these things and is much more well-versed on how to gradually get your nutrition in a good place instead of shocking your body.
Counting macros and calories isn’t for everyone, I get that. If you don’t know if it’s for you yet, try it out! It doesn’t hurt to play with the concept for 30 days and then make a decision.
I want to add a disclaimer: counting your macros alone isn’t going to answer all of your weight loss or muscle gaining dilemmas. If you really, really want IIFYM to be affective, choose whole foods (i.e. lean proteins, green veggies, healthy starches and fats).
If you’re interested in working with me on a nutritional level, you can click here to see my services offered and we can get started with macros today!