So you’ve decided that you want to track and calculate macronutrients in your food. The whole process can seem overwhelming at first but with this simple and easy guide, you can go from being clueless to being an expert in no time. You will eventually reach a point where you can pretty accurately estimate the macros of your meal. All it takes are a few tools and consistency, and you can begin tracking your macros in order to stay on top of your fitness goals and not fall off track.
Remember, Protein and carbohydrates have 4 calories/gram while fat has 9 calories/gram. Alcohol has 7 calories/gram so be careful when you’re tossing down those brews. Those calories add up quickly after a beer or 5.
First step in tracking your macros is to determine your daily macronutrient requirement. These consist of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Alcohol is a macronutrient as well so don’t think of it as just another carb. Probably the best resource to use in order to determine how to track your macros is called the IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) Calculator. IIFYM is a diet that allows flexibility so as long as you hit your macros, you can eat whatever you want. We don’t suggest that you “eat whatever you want” and highly advise you maintain a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fiber, fruits, and vegetables.
The IIFYM calculator first determines your total daily energy expenditure which is simply how many calories your body burns each day. Next you can specify your goals whether it is to gain weight or lose weight or maintain. Now you can specify your protein requirements and fat requirements. A solid starting point is 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight and your fat intake should be about .3-.4 grams per pound of bodyweight. For example, a 200lb male aiming for .3 grams of fat per pound of bodyweight would consume (200*.3)=60 grams of fat per day. The rest of your calories will come from carbohydrates.
Now that you know exactly how many grams of carbs, fat, and protein you need to intake daily, you can now keep track of your macros at each meal and make sure you hit your daily target. You might be wondering how you will measure out your food? There’s no easy way here; you’re going to need to pick up a food scale.
So you’ve got your food scale and you know your macro numbers, now you need a way to track your calories without having to write them down. Luckily there’s an abundance of apps you can use in order to keep track of it all. The best part is that you can use a free one such as MyFitnessPal for iOS or Android. You simply search for the food and then enter in the values whether it is measured by volume or by weight.
Estimating Macros in A Meal
So what happens if you want to go out to a restaurant and can’t weigh your food? Should you just seclude yourself from eating out because you might go over your macros?
Luckily, these days most chain restaurants include their nutritional information on their website. You can use the information given by the restaurant but keep in mind that it is not always going to be accurate. Remember though that living a healthy lifestyle is all about balance. Just because you slightly go over your macros does not mean you will fail to reach your goals.
Is it necessary to track your macros?
The simple answer is no, it’s not necessary. But there’s more to it…
If you have an idea of many grams of protein, carbs, and fat you eat each day and you eat the same foods each day, then no it’s not necessary. You can just adjust your current diet to fit your current goals. If you are looking to lose weight and get shredded, then eat less fat and carbs and slowly lose weight at a rate of 1-2 pounds per week. If you are looking to bulk up and get swole, then eat more carbs and gain weight at a rate of 1 pound per week.
Actually using a scale and tracking you macros is great in order to learn about portion sizes. It also helps you stay accountable to your diet. The problem with not tracking your macros is that most people have no clue what their macros actually look like and they tend to underestimate how much they eat. The optimal way to reach your fitness goals is to track your macros.
Video: Do you Have To Track Macros-Max Chewning
“When I started tracking my macros, I saw the biggest change in my physique”
Weighing your food may seem tedious at first, but anything worthwhile is going to be tedious. There’s no secret to achieving your ideal physique and the only thing you need to do is train hard and eat well. At the end of the day, it’s all about finding a balance between your training and your personal life. As long as you hit your macros most of the time, then it’s not going to ruin everything if you go out to eat and drink with your friends on the weekend.