How to Count Your Macros

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When it comes to shedding pounds, some people are moving away from tracking calories and shifting to tracking macronutrients instead. Macros—short for macronutrients—include carbs, proteins, and fats. Basically, tracking macros involves calculating the number of grams of each macronutrient you consume daily, working toward pre-determined goals. The technique is an essential part of diets such as the ketogenic diet.

Supporters of the technique say that counting macros can help them decrease their weight, increase their consumption of nutritious foods, and generally feel great; however, some may find the daily arithmetic intricate and time-consuming, according to Zoe Griffiths, a registered dietitian. Wondering if it’s worth the effort? Below is a detailed procedure for computing macros, along with opinions from experts on whether this technique can aid in attaining health and weight-loss objectives.

What Are Macronutrients?

In other words, macronutrients are ingredients in the diet that are used by the body to generate energy. This is according to Rahaf Al Bochi, RDN, LD, who is a representative of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and established Olive Tree Nutrition. You just read that macronutrients consist of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. The calorie amount offered by each kind of food is expressed in terms of energy per gram.


Carbohydrates are the energy source that the body preferentially uses; each gram contains 4 calories. Carbohydrates can be made up of sugars, starches, and fiber; most of these are changed to glucose which provides energy to the brain and muscles. Carbohydrates can be found in a wide variety of sources, including cereals, pasta, bread, dairy, legumes, and vegetables.


Proteins play a role in forming the tissues found in various organs and muscles. They also provide essential amino acids necessary for development, repair, and digestion. The body creates certain amino acids for necessary processes, but nine more must come from food sources. Similar to carbohydrates, proteins provide 4 calories per gram. Foods that contain a lot of protein include meats such as beef, chicken, and fish, as well as nuts, seeds, and dairy products.


Fats not only offer energy (9 calories per gram), but also serve the purpose of keeping the body warm and aiding in the absorption of vitamins that dissolve in fat. Dietary fat can be divided into two groups: saturated fat, commonly derived from animal products like red meat; and unsaturated fat, discovered in plant-based sources such as nuts, seeds, avocado, and vegetable oils, as well as certain types of fish like salmon.

High-Macro Foods

Most dishes include a combination of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, but there are some that possess a substantially larger proportion of one of the macronutrients. This information can be located on the Nutrition Facts label of packaged and prepared items. FoodData Central is a great resource for those who cook their own meals and require fresh produce and bulk items. Every food in the database provides its own nutritional profile.

As you develop your eating habits, take into account the content of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats present in different foods depending on the objectives you want to achieve.

High-Carb Foods

  • Brown rice: 52 g of carbs per 1-cup serving
  • Sweet potato: 26 g of carbs per 5-inch potato
  • 100% whole wheat sandwich bread: 16 g of carbs per slice
  • Other high-carb foods: Oats, rice, cornmeal, barley, quinoa, bread, wraps, pasta, breakfast cereal, potatoes, corn, green beans, winter squash, additional grains, grain products, and starchy vegetables

High-Protein Foods

  • Skinless chicken breast: 26 g of protein per 3-oz serving
  • Peanuts: 7 g of protein per 1-oz serving
  • Eggs: 6 g of protein per large egg
  • Other high-protein foods: Fish, meat, poultry, beans, lentils, peas, nuts, and yogurt

High-Fat Foods

  • Avocado: 30 g of fat per whole avocado
  • Peanut butter: 16 g of fat per 2 tbsp serving
  • Olive oil: 14 g of fat per 1 tbsp serving
  • Other high-fat foods: Olives, whole milk cheese and yogurt, nuts, seeds, butter, grapeseed and sunflower oils

Macronutrients vs. Micronutrients

People are frequently discussing the “if it fits your macros” method of consuming food, yet it is just a part of dieting and not the only thing that matters. When it comes to nutritional requirements, one must also take into account micronutrients.

Rather than needing large quantities, micronutrients (micros), are essential nutrients that are only required in small amounts, with no additional caloric content. This encompasses every requisite vitamin and mineral we need to sustain us daily.

It is probable that you will be able to reach your macros by consuming a lot of unsuitable foods, but you will achieve better results if you put emphasis on other aspects of diet too. I’m suggesting that instead of just focusing on the amount of macronutrients you consume, you also make sure to choose more nutrient-rich foods.

Benefits of Counting Macros

This eating approach isn’t ideal for everyone, but if it works for you, here are a few of the potential benefits:

1. Can help with making better food choices.

If you are someone who is used to monitoring their calorie intake, tracking macros could be beneficial in guiding you to pick more nutrient-rich foods that will satisfy your calorie needs. For instance, foods such as a bagel with jam and a bowl of chocolate peanut butter-banana overnight oats have comparable caloric values, but their nutritional qualities vary. This dish of oatmeal is full of protein, whole grains, good fats for the heart, and other essential nutrients. Eating either breakfast can contribute to being healthy. However, oats are more likely to help you reach your nutritional targets (and other health objectives).

2. Encourages food tracking.

Logging your food intake is an effective way of shedding pounds. Studies indicate that carefully recording one’s own progress, sometimes referred to as self-monitoring, is effective in assisting people in shedding pounds and maintaining their lower weight over the long haul.

3. Raises awareness of portion sizes.

You must also record the amount of food eaten in order to determine macro nutrients precisely. This information can be useful for determining the amount that you are taking in. It is important to remember that there is a distinction between the amount of food a serving size contains and the amount an individual portion consists of when looking at the nutrition information. A serving is what is indicated on the label of a food item, while a portion is an actual amount you decide to eat. By taking the time to assess what portion sizes you’re consuming (whether you use a food scale, measuring cups, or your hand!), you’ll become more conscious of your eating behaviors.

How to Count Macros

Monitoring the levels of macronutrients consumed in a day by measuring the amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats eaten is the practice of tracking macros. You are also taking note of the number of calories you have each day since proteins, fats, and carbohydrates all give off a certain amount of calories per gram.

Calculating macros is a simple technique to keep track of both calories and nutrition consumption at the same time.

Once you know your calorie goals, you can easily count your macros using the following three steps:

Step 1. Learn How Many Calories Per Macro

The calorie breakdown of your macros is as follows:

Approximately four calories are produced per gram of carbohydrates and protein, translating to 40 calories coming from a food or drink with 10 grams of protein.

Fats have the most calories per gram, tallying up to nine calories – that’s more than twice the caloric energy of proteins and carbohydrates. Therefore, an item with 10g of fat will have 90 calories that come from that fat.

Step 2. Calculate Total Macro Calories

You can determine the quantity of food you are consuming by looking at the nutrition label. Everything that comes with a dietary facts label also provides information about macro-nutrients. It’s really that easy. The FDA employs this exact method to figure out the calorie count in your food.

For illustration, the nutritional information for a 0.5 cup portion of wholegrain breakfast cereal suggests it contains 3g of fat, 13g of carbohydrates, and 3g of protein. You can work out the amount of calories for each macronutrient by multiplying the macronutrient amount by its respective calorie figure.

  • 3g of fat x 9 calories per gram = 27 calories
  • 13g of carbs x 4 calories per gram = 52 calories
  • 3g of protein x 4 calories per gram = 12 calories

The total amount of calories for this food should be 90 calories per serving, which is the sum of all the calories combined.

Step 3. Assess Macro Ratio (%)

To figure out the macro ratio for each item, divide the number of calories for that item by the total number of calories (90) and then multiply the result by 100.

Please note that the proportion mentioned is not the same as the percentage mentioned on the label, which shows the amount necessary for daily needs.

  • 27 fat calories / 90 calories x 100% = 30% of calories from fat
  • 52 carb calories / 90 calories x 100% = 57% of calories from carbs
  • 12 protein calories / 90 calories x 100% = 13% of calories from protein

The combined amount of protein, fat, and carbohydrates should be equal to 100%.

Counting Macros for Weight Loss

A lot of folks are hoping to slim down by using a diet plan that is largely based on eating macro-nutrients. To lose weight, a person needs to create a calorie deficit by eating fewer calories than the body expends. Tracking macro-nutrients may be effective in allowing some individuals to be mindful of the origin and amount of their calories on a daily basis, along with how exercise affects their energy requirements. Ultimately, however, there’s no magic ratio for weight loss. A study from 2009 printed in the New England Journal of Medicine ascertained that cutting down on calorie intake leads to substantial weight loss no matter what type of macronutrients are emphasized.

Macro Diets

Macros are not always a one-size-fits-all approach. You can find ways to regulate and balance your nutrition by monitoring your carb, fat, and/or protein consumption. There’s an abundance of dietary options that offer you many levels of adaptability.

Whether you are a bodybuilder or just looking to eat healthier, here are some common macro-based approaches you might have heard of:

Weight Loss Macros

The truth is that you can slim down on any type of diet as long as you maintain a steady calorie shortfall. The amount of calories you take in daily is lower than the amount of energy you burn in a day. Determining which type of macro split works best for your objectives and helps you maintain a healthy weight loss while learning how to make good food decisions is the purpose of tracking your macros for weight loss.

Doing research to decide whether a low-carb, high-protein, or low-fat diet is most beneficial. These are the top macros for dropping pounds.

Macros for Cutting

Highly skilled athletes and bodybuilders often incorporate diet periodization into their training in order to obtain the appearance they desire. This method requires cycling through phases such as losing weight, gaining weight, and maintaining a constant weight.

Each of these stages necessitates a distinctive and tailored macro distribution to obtain the needed physical objectives. The process of losing weight is not as simple as just being in a caloric deficit.

The objective of the trimming stage is to reduce body fat while sustaining as much muscle tissue as possible (i.e., looking ripped).

Looking to maintain lean mass and get shredded? Have a look at this straightforward guide to macronutrients for decreasing and fine-tuning your diet like an expert.

Muscle Gain Macros

Bulking just means more muscle, not always getting “big”. It is advantageous to maintain every ounce of muscle in your body. The top reasons to think about trying a weight gain diet include:

  • Increased lean mass
  • Improved strength and performance
  • Easier weight maintenance

Riding a bicycle between varying stages of eating less and consuming more is frequently employed as a method to order and adjust your physical fitness strategy. Since consuming a substantial amount of food can lead to weight gain, it is common for people to engage in a cutting phase to reduce their body fat, yet retain their muscle mass.

Achieving a healthy weight necessitates a methodical approach to both nutrition and exercise. Make sure you are up to date on the optimal intake of macros when bulking to ensure that you are making the most of your time at the gym.

Keto Diet Macros

In comparison to regular macro allotments, on the keto diet, there’s a larger emphasis on consuming healthy fats while restricting carbohydrates to achieve the state of ketosis.

Have trouble sticking to a lower fat intake? Examine the potential of a high-fat, low-carb regimen such as the keto diet to aid in shedding pounds.

Vegan Macros

Since most plants provide either carbohydrates or fats, it can be tricky to plan a high-protein diet that is based on plants because this kind of diet does not include the same “traditional” food plate, which usually consists of grains, meat, and vegetables.

No animal products, such as meat or dairy, are included in vegan diets as they entirely depend on plants for getting the necessary nutrients. Plants tend to provide a blend of different macronutrients, making it difficult to classify them as a particular type of protein, carbohydrate, or fat. Even with a few tweaks and practice, it is entirely feasible to reach your macro diet goals and acquire the desired outcomes from a vegan diet.

Macros: Quality or Quantity?

When it comes to maintaining a healthy eating pattern, it is not just macronutrients that are important to consider—vitamins, minerals, and other elements also play a role.

For instance, carbohydrates found in entire vegetables, fruits, pulses, and cereals are packaged with numerous other supplements – including fiber, which helps you feel full. Conversely, while a chocolate chip cookie tastes delightful, it usually isn’t particularly nutritious.

Likewise, not all fats are the same. Eating a lot of foods that are high in saturated fat (like red meat and butter) can put you at a higher risk for illnesses like heart disease. At the same time, incorporating avocado, seafood, nuts, and oils from plants in your diet may help decrease the likelihood of contracting a disease, due to the presence of unsaturated fats.

Essentially, London believes that every type of food – as long as it provides carbs, proteins, and fats – can be part of a nutritious diet. Making healthy, nutrient-rich choices should be a widespread practice, but it should not be seen as an inflexible requirement for reaching or sustaining good health.


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