There’s a definite trend in the fitness industry as of late.
Health and Fitness influencers promoting the idea that you shouldn’t count calories or track your food intake if you are to have a healthy relationship with food.
On some level, I agree- food tracking whether you’re counting calories or macros or using some sort of portion control method- can become an unhealthy habit when taken to the extreme.
But that’s how most habits work, right?
Do anything in too much of excess and it becomes obsessive.
And that’s why any action- no matter how ‘healthy’ it is – can become ‘unhealthy’ when performed with exceptional rigidity.
But here’s the thing about food tracking as it relates to weight loss- you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Meaning- if you’re not seeing results from your fitness plan, then how can you know where to make adjustments?
If your current diet + exercise plan aren’t helping you achieve your goals but you’re unaware of what your energy input and output is- then how do you know what your next step is?
Should you eat more? Eat less? Exercise more? Change up your training?
It’s for this reason that tracking your food intake CAN have a positive effect on your health.
Calorie counting and more specifically, macro counting can help you to become aware of your current eating habits. And through macro counting you can learn to make the necessary changes to eat more in alignment with your health and fitness goals.
In the blog post, I’m sharing with you everything you need to know about macro counting and how it can truly help you to finally drop the weight + realize your fitness goals.
This post may contain affiliate links, for more information, see my disclosures here.
Why should you count macros?
Looking our best- and more importantly, feeling our best is the direct result of the quality nutrition we put into our bodies.
Without a healthy diet, we become more prone to things like disease, fatigue + poor performance.
But knowing how and what to eat isn’t something that comes natural to most women. And with so much fitness advice available on the Internet these days- the idea of healthy + balanced eating can feel overwhelming.
So if you’re feeling defeated by the dieting lifestyle, finding it hard to commit to a set caloric intake- then keep reading, my friend- I’m sharing all the juicy details on how you can make flexible dieting a part of your life!
Benefits of Macro Counting
The macro diet is similar to calorie-counting but instead of tracking calories, the goal is to track the amount of macro-nutrients consumed (sounds confusing, but I promise it’s not).
If you’ve heard of macro counting before- it was likely from a friend who’s really into fitness- but macro dieting can actually benefit almost any woman who’s wanting to improve upon her ability to make smart food choices that fit within her goals.
You see, macros, short for macro-nutrients, are the actual nutrients that make up the caloric content of your food.
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Our bodies rely on three specific macro-nutrients to function properly- carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. They are similar in that all of them provide energy to maintain bodily functions; however, the type and amount of energy given by each macro-nutrient varies.
A healthful diet consists of a balanced ratio of all three macro-nutrients.
Carbohydrates– are the major supply of fuel for the body. They provide the body with glucose, which is converted to energy used to support bodily functions and physical activity.
Protein– the most filling of all the macro-nutrients (but also the one macro-nutrient most people don’t get enough of). It helps maintain stable blood sugar and is a key component in preserving muscle mass.
Fat– an essential nutrient that assists our body in vitamin absorption, hormone regulations, brain function and much more.
When macro-nutrients are consumed in the right quantities, it helps to keep hunger at bay, balance your energy levels, and reduce cravings!
After all- when you take the time to support your body by giving it what it needs, it supports you back tenfold.
How is macro counting different from calorie counting?
If you hit your macro target, by default you’ll also hit your caloric goal.
Because calories come from macros. One gram of protein and one gram of carbohydrates both equate to 4 calories. While one gram of fat equals 9.
Have you ever looked at a nutrition label and wondered exactly where that total calorie number comes from?
It’s basic nutrition- see below for an example.
Consider the following nutrition labels. Same caloric content. Different macros.
Using the nutrition label on the left, we can see that the 230 total calories found in this one serving come from:
- the 8 grams of fat (8g x 9 calories) = 72 calories
- the 37 grams of carbohydrates (37g x 4 calories) = 148 calories
- and the 3 grams of protein (3g x 4 calories) = 12 calories
72 calories of fat + 148 calories of carbs + 12 calories of protein = roughly 230 calories (yes, there is some rounding that causes small discrepancies here.)
Our bodies will digest this 230 calories worth of food much differently than compared to the 230 calories worth of food found in the nutrition label on the right (pictured above).
- the 16 grams of fat (16g x 9 calories) = 144 calories
- the 10 grams of carbohydrates (10g x 4 calories) = 40 calories
- and the 14 grams of protein (14g x 4 calories) = 56 calories
144 calories of fat + 40 calories of carbs + 56 calories of protein = roughly 230 calories (yes, there is some rounding that causes small discrepancies here.)
By focusing on carbohydrates, protein, and fat, you can better optimize your diet for your physical and personal needs, whether you’re boosting your metabolism, cutting fat, or building muscle. (Remember each macro-nutrient has a different ‘job’ in helping our bodies to function correctly)
The goal of macro dieting is not to deprive your body but rather it’s to feed your body with the ideal nutrition that makes your body work most efficiently.
How do you calculate and track your macros?
Macros requirements vary drastically from person to person depending on many factors including one’s current muscle mass, gender, age, activity level, physique goals, etc…
For someone just getting started with macro counting, it may be helpful to speak with a registered dietitian to ensure that you’re using the best macro breakdown for your body goals.
However, a second option is to use an online macro calculator to help determine an adequate starting point.
IMPORTANT: long term weight loss success has more to do with consistency than perfection. Don’t stress so much over finding the *perfect* macros- instead focus on becoming consistent with your macro tracking.
As you progress on your macro diet- as long as you’re consistent with your adherence to the plan- you can make adjustments.
If you’re looking for a (free) online macro calculator, I suggest using the macro calculator provided through the My Transphormation Challenge.
To receive your free macro breakdowns + a sample meal plan (no purchase necessary) :
- Step 1: Head over to the My Transphormation Challenge to download the app and gain access to free tools + your customized dashboard.
- Step 2: Once downloaded, open the My Transphormation App. You’ll be guided through a few simple questions to help personalize your experience within the app.
- Step 3: Enter your info + follow the instructions to be guided to your very own meal plan to aid with your fat loss goals.
Once you decide on a macro breakdown, tracking your intake is as simple as using a food tracking app.
Again, there are plenty of free options to choose from. Personally, I use MyFitness Pal. I have found it to be user-friendly, convenient + accurate.
You can also check out other apps like Lose it, Fitocracy, or Macros+ . There is no right or wrong way to track your macros- do what feels right for you, girl!
Macro Counting Meal Planning Tips:
Plan ahead: Macro counting tends to be less restrictive than other diet plans, simply because no foods are off limits.
As long as the macros ‘fit’ within the limits of your macro goals, you’re golden.
That being said, the best way to ensure you’re consuming enough of EACH macro-nutrient is to plan ahead. As you familiarize yourself with what macros make up each food, deciding on what to eat will take considerable less time + effort.
Planning your macros is akin to budgeting.
I recommend dividing your macro-nutrient count based on how many meals you eat in a day.
For instance- if your goal was to eat 150 grams of protein, 200 grams of carbohydrates and 60 grams of fat in total for the entire day, divide those numbers by how many meals you’d ideally like to eat in a day.
If your personal preference was to eat 5 times throughout the day, then each meal would consist of approximately 30 grams of protein, 40 grams of carbohydrates and 12 grams of fat.
This way your meals are a healthy + balanced proportion of macro-nutrients.
Prepare meals in bulk: Buying + preparing foods in bulk is a great way to have macro-friendly meal options available. Plus, it’s a great way to cut down on the cost of healthy eating.
Personally, I prefer to cook large portions of proteins (think chicken breast, lean ground beef + turkey) early in the week. I keep the food stored in air-tight containers in my refrigerator + pull out portions of what I need as the week progresses.
This strategy is especially helpful for anyone looking to cut down the amount of time they spend in the kitchen each day.
When I’m away from home, I rely on travel-friendly snacks to hold me over until my next meal. My current go-to meal replacement is this Peanut Butter Lovers protein bar– I’m obsessed!
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Add flavor without adding calories: You can watch what you eat and still enjoy your food!
Freshen up your favorite dishes using fresh herbs + spices in your cooking- it’s a small change that has a big impact.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with fun, healthy alternatives to your favorite indulgences. Swapping spaghetti noodles for low-carb zoodles or using yogurt in place of sour cream in a sauce can significantly reduce your calorie intake without decreasing the flavor.
Also, don’t fret over the occasional indulgence! You can lose weight + still enjoy a nice meal out. Because let’s be honest, weight loss is the result of consistency to a meal plan- not perfection.
There’s no right or wrong way to diet.
Macro counting is one option of an infinite number of possibles for you to try on your weight loss journey.
I recommend macro counting purely for it’s flexibility; it’s one eating strategy that has helped me to maintain long term fat loss.
Deciding if macro counting is right for you is a personal choice. As always, I’m a firm believer that the BEST diet plan is one that you can consistently adhere to for the long term.
Let me know in the comments below what type of eating style has worked best for you on your personal fitness journey!
Here to Support YOU! XO- Britney (ms.fit.farmer)
Read More on the Macro Diet:
- 5 Ways a Macro-Based Diet Can Help You Achieve Lasting Weight Loss
- How To Best Calculate Your Macros for Fat Loss (3 Simple Options)