Fad diets have come and gone with the wind. But there has been one proven method, used by so many that has stood the test of time. By counting your Macro-nutrients, you can simply track what you are eating, so you can reach your fitness goals, whether you just want to lose some winter weight, or if you are looking to start competitions. It is simple and easy to follow, and if you follow these simple instructions, you too can be on your way to the body you always wanted.
What are your Macros?
Macro-nutrients consist of three main types. The first is Carbohydrates. Carbs are your everyday starches, sugars and fiber. They count for 4Kcal per gram, and are usually the highest portion of people’s caloric intake. No person’s body is the same, some people have more sensitivity to carbs, and will likely need less of them than they think. The next is Protein. Protein also accounts for 4Kcal per gram. They can be found in meats, dairy, legumes, and eggs. Protein is responsible for building tissue, hormones and enzymes. The final is the word that most people think of as the enemy-fats. Fats do account for 9Kcal per gram, so it is the most caloric dense Macro. However, they should not be considered an enemy, as they carry out many important functions such as: energy, hormone production, body temperature maintenance and nutrient absorption. They are found in foods such as oils, nuts, meats, fish and avocados.
Where to Start
The first thing you need to do to begin Counting your Macro-nutrients, is to calculate your Basil Metabolic Rate. This measures your energy expenditure at rest. So if you were to lay in bed all day, it is the amount of calories that are burned carrying out your natural bodily function. You may do this calculation by hand, or to make it easy you can use an online calculator.
To Calculate by hand, you will use the following guidelines:
Male: calories per day = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) + 5
Female: calories per day = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) – 161
Once this number is calculated, you have to decide what your level of activity is, and be honest. There are 5 levels of activity. They consist of:
Sedentary- little to no exercise
Lightly Active-exercise lightly less than three days a week
Moderate- exercise moderately four to five days a week
Very Active- Intense exercise at least 6 days during the week
Extra Active- Intense exercise multiple times a day (competitor/instructor)
Once you decide your activity level, you have to multiply by the level accordingly.
lightly active: 1.375
Very Active: 1.725
Extra Active: 1.9
You now have your Total Daily Energy Expenditure. Now you can begin to manipulate your Macros to fit your body type and your goals that you have for yourself.
Now is when you choose what ratio of Protein, Carbs, and Fats is correct for you. Everyone’s body types and goals are different, that is why this diet is so successful, because it is designed for everyone.
Ideally to lose body fat you want to have .8-1.5 grams of Protein per pound of body weight to hold onto lean muscle, and burn fat. i.e. a person that is looking to lose some body fat for the summer would want about 40% Protein, 35% Carbohydrates, and 25% Fats. The only way to keep this diet plan is to track your meals and Macronutrient levels daily. By doing this you can see if you have “hit” your macros for the day, and after a week or two adjust your ratio accordingly to see if you are on track for your goals. We recommend using an app such as MyFitnessPal, to easily track the foods you are eating, and to track your progress.
Please remember this diet may not be for everyone. It requires daily attention, and preparation. You will get what you put into it. But for someone who loves structure, and is ready to put in the time, it can be a wonderful tool. The reason this is often called flexible dieting, is simply because you can alter what you are eating on a daily basis. By adjusting your ratios, you can change what foods you have eaten that day. Lets say you had something that is very Carbohydrate rich, like Pasta, you may go over your daily value. A simple fix is to adjust your ratio, and take away portions from your fats and protein. This does not mean eat nine hundred calories of Fats, and nine hundred Calories of Carbs because they are delicious, you will not see your body change how you would like it to. Also keep in mind, just because it fits into your macros for the day, does not mean it will not have a negative impact. Lets say you have significantly lower carbs one day, and you decide to eat something high in sugar. It will take a toll on your Insulin levels and cause your energy levels to decrease, and may cause you to retain water.
A Final Word
Please remember that no matter the outcome, the number on the scale is not the ultimate determination factor. Depending on what you are doing in sequence with your diet, you can be gaining weight, but still becoming healthier. Counting Macros will help build lean muscle, burn fat, tone your body, and ultimately help your natural bodily functions. The scale can be a good way to measure your progress at first, but over the course of time, there are new and more advanced techniques to measure progress. These can be things such as body measurements, Electronic Impedance, and Bod Pods. Please remember to consult with your physician before starting a diet. You are now ready to begin your journey to a new you. Do not get discouraged, this is not a sprint, but a marathon, (but sprints can help get you where you want to be too!)