What exactly is a macro diet and more importantly, what is macro counting? Most of America is going crazy over workouts, nutrition and fitness fads. With so many different diet programs hitting the market daily, how do you choose the one that fights you best? Moreover, how do you process all the information coming your way? Many of these diet programs seem to be doing diametrically opposite things! While some tell you to avoid carbs, others tell you to eat high-carb, but low-fat. The best way to choose something that goes with your objective is to study the plans and then select the one that seems right to you. However, to do that you need to have enough knowledge about nutrition and dieting. In this article, we will be tackling just that! Read on to find out more about macro counting, why it is essential and how it works on the keto diet.
What Are Macros?
To understand what counting macros are, you need to first understand what macros or macronutrients are. Here’s a look at the most essential macronutrients and their sources.
Carbohydrates – Includes sugars, fibres and starches.
Most carbs break down into glucose, which enters your bloodstream as blood sugar and gets used up for immediate purposes. Otherwise, the body stores this glucose as glycogen within either your liver or muscles. Most carbs provide almost four calories/gram and are the most consumed macro for most people. They are also what most nutritionists and dieticians debate about because some think you need to avoid them, while others favor it. However, most health organizations believe that consuming 45% carbs will do. The most common sources for carbs are starchy veggies, beans, grains and dairy.
They contain the most amount of calories, at nine calories/gram and are needed for several critical bodily functions. Fats are utilised for hormone production, temperature maintenance and nutrient absorption. Most experts believe that 20% of our daily calorie intake should come from healthy fats. Fats are a significant part of avocados, nuts, fatty fish, oils and butter.
Similar to carbs, proteins provide four calories/gram. They are vital for immunity building, tissue maintenance, hormone and enzyme production and cell signalling. Most experts believe that proteins should make up 15-30% of your daily intake depending on your age, line of work and gender. Food items such as eggs, fish, lentils, tofu and poultry are rich in proteins.
What is Macro Counting?
Macro counting is the art of tracking how many grams of macronutrients you take in daily, to set a diet goal. Here are the steps involved in macro counting.
Steps in Macro Counting
- Find out your daily calorie needs. Do some by finding your resting and non-resting energy expenditure (REE and NREE). REE counts how many calories your body burns while it is at rest, whereas NREE measures calorie burning during physical activity and digestion.
- Total Caloric Need or TDEE = REE + NREE
- General formulae are as follows:
Men – 10 x present weight (in kg) + 6.25 x height (in cm) – 5 x age (years) + 5
Women – 10 x weight (in kg) + 6.25 x height (in cm) – 5 x age (years) – 161
Then, multiply this with a coefficient that depends on your physical activity level, from below to get your TDEE for the day.
Sedentary Lifestyle: 1.2
Light exercise less than three times a week: 1.375
Moderate exercise more than thrice a week: 1.55
Laborious exercise daily: 1.725
Strenuous exercise multiple times a day, every day: 1.9
- Once you have your TDEE, then decide how you want to break down your macros. Figure out what kind of macronutrient ratio works best for your body. A typical diet macro ratio would be as follows:
- Carbs: 40–65% of calories
- Fats: 20–30% of calories
- Proteins: 10–30% of calories
- Fine-tune your ratio to achieve specific objectives, such as weight loss and weight gain.
- If you want to lose weight and control your blood sugar, consider a diet which contains 35% of carbs, 30% or less fat and 35% or more protein.
- Once you have a plan in place, start tracking or counting your macros daily.
- Make a food log and religiously take note of everything you eat, so that you know exactly how many calories you are consuming, and what macro group they belong to. The easiest way to do this would be through a food logging or dieting app, such as MyFitnessPal.
For example, here’s a look at how to count macros for a sample meal. Imagine you have a TDEE of 2000 calories daily. You decide to split your diet into 40% of carbs, 30% or more protein and 30% or less fat. Here’s how the macro counting would work in such a scenario.
- Carbs: 4 calories/gram
40% of 2,000 = 800 calories through carbs/day
Total grams allowed = 800/4 = 200 grams/day
- Proteins: 4 calories/gram
30% of 2,000 = 600 calories through protein/day
Total grams allowed = 600/4 = 150 grams/day
- Fats: 9 calories/gram
30% of 2,000 = 600 calories through fat/day
Total grams allowed = 600/9 = 67 grams/day
Benefits of Macro Counting
- Significantly improves diet quality by helping you focus on what you eat, rather than how much you are eating.
- Enables you to focus on nutrients, rather than just calories.
- Leads to you choosing healthier, more nutritious food
- Promotes weight-loss as you will switch to a more healthy diet consciously
- Helps in achieving specific weight goals
Macro Counting on a Keto Diet
For your body to enter ketosis, you will need a low-carb, high-fat diet. While macro counting, experts feel that following a diet that is 75% fat, 20% of protein, and 5% or less carb-rich helps in entering ketosis. Once you have this knowledge, you can adjust your daily meal plans to ensure that you lose weight, by sticking to this plan. For moderate weight loss, a reduction of 10–20% of calories will do. Therefore, multiply your TDEE with 0.1 and then subtract this amount from your original TDEE to get your new target for the day.
Now that you know how macro counting is used this to find out your ideal meal plan. As you can see, this is a useful tool that will help you stick on to a keto plan, and lose weight. Knowing more about nutritional facts such as this will help you make better-informed decisions while dieting. So, what’s your ideal macro percentage?