Sharing my tips on how to calculate and track macros to reach your goals.
Hello friends! How are you; I hope you had a beautiful morning! We’re in DISNEY 🙂 Liv asked for a Disney trip instead of a big birthday party, so thankfully we obliged and are living it up in the happiest place on earth. I hope your new year is off to a good start.
Today, I wanted to talk about macros and macro tracking! This is a tool I’ve been using for years, but I haven’t done a full post about it. If you’ve ever wondered about the importance of macro tracking, this beginner’s guide is here to break down the concept and help you navigate the world of balanced nutrition.
How to calculate and track macros
What are macros?
Macronutrients are essential nutrients that our bodies need in relatively large amounts to function optimally. There are three main macronutrients:
Proteins: Proteins are vital for muscle repair and growth and are made up of amino acids. Sources include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, legumes, and plant-based options like tofu and tempeh.
Carbohydrates: The body’s main source of energy, carbohydrates come in the form of sugars, starches and fiber. Common sources include fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes.
Fat: Essential for hormone production, brain function and energy storage, healthy fats are found in avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil and oily fish.
The role of macros in your diet
Balancing your macros is all about understanding the role each one plays in your overall diet. Protein supports muscle health and helps with satiety. Carbohydrates provide quick energy and fats provide steady energy and support various bodily functions. We need all of these macros, and also by including a balance of macros in our diet, we can support blood sugar levels, preventing energy dips and crashes.
Why Track Macros?
Tracking your macros involves tracking the amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and fats you consume each day.
Although it may seem meticulous, it can provide many benefits:
Precision in Nutrition: Macro tracking allows you to adjust your diet, ensuring you meet your nutritional needs without excess or deficiency.
Adjustment: Every person is different. Tracking your macros allows you to tailor your diet to your specific goals, whether they include weight loss, muscle gain, or maintenance.
Educational tool: It provides an educational experience, helping you understand the nutritional composition of various foods and making informed choices. I find that sometimes tracking macros gives clients MORE flexibility as they implement foods they used to fear or avoid from years of dieting.
How to start
1. Define your goals:
Before diving into the world of macro tracking, determine your health and fitness goals. Looking to lose weight, gain muscle, or maintain your current physique?
2. Calculate your macros:
Online calculators can give a good baseline, but they don’t know you. They don’t know your body composition, medical history, preferences, diet history, current intake, etc. An RD or certified nutrition coach can help you determine your daily macro goals based on factors such as age, weight, activity level and goals. (For the record, I’m a Precision Nutrition coach, so I can count macros and give healthy meal and recipe ideas, but I can’t tell you specifically *how much* of *what* to eat each day. Only an RD can do that does this.) Personally, I like to calculate a baseline after knowing my TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure), then aim for 1g of protein per kg of ideal body weight, then calculate fat and carbs once I have that number.
For many of my clients, we use hand-sized portions to track macros so they don’t have to constantly weigh and measure food.
Lighting unit it’s also a great tool for calculating daily macros. My full Lumen review is here!
3. Select Balanced Sources:
Aim for a comprehensive intake of protein, carbohydrates and fats from whole, nutrient-dense foods. Emphasize lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats.
4. Use the tracking tools:
Use apps like MyFitnessPal, Pedometer or a diary to track your daily food intake. These tools simplify the process by providing nutritional information for various foods.
5. Adjust as needed:
Evaluate your progress regularly and adjust your macros accordingly. Adjustments may be necessary based on changes in activity level, goals, or overall well-being.
Tips for success
Prioritize Whole Foods: When tracking macros, focus on whole, minimally processed foods for optimal nutrition and satiety.
Stay Consistent: Consistency is key. Aim to track your macros consistently to create a routine and notice the impact on your overall well-being. You can always take a break after you’ve made it and what a day of hearty meals looks like for you.
Listen to your body: Pay attention to signs of hunger and fullness. Adjust your macros if necessary based on how your body responds.
Be patient: Changes take time. Let your body adjust to new eating habits and don’t be discouraged by short-term fluctuations.
Macro tracking can be a valuable tool to gain insight into your nutritional intake. It empowers you to make conscious choices, optimize your diet for your specific goals, and cultivate a healthier relationship with food. As always, remember that balance, consistency, and patience are your allies in achieving long-term success in nutrition and overall wellness.
So tell me, friends: do you track your macros or nutritional intake in any way? While I don’t think macro tracking is for everyone, it can be especially helpful to establish a baseline and rebuild your intake after years of dieting.