How to track and count macros to avoid being caught up in the diet “BS”
With this guide, you will discover everything you need to know about how to count macronutrients in order to lose stubborn fat, gain lean muscle or achieve any other goal you desire.
WTF ARE MACROS
Let’s clear up the mystery as to what macronutrients (macros) are. There are three different macronutrients – Protein, Fats and carbohydrates. These macronutrients are what make up the calories and composition of food. Every single thing you put in your mouth contains either protein, carbs or fats or a combination of those foods. For example, doughnuts are mostly carbs and fats, chicken breast is predominately protein, pizza is a combination of all three.
Calories provide us with energy and the amount of calories we eat in a day is going to be made up of the four different macronutrients. If a food says it’s 500 calories then those 500 calories are made up of protein carbs and fats or alcohol in varying amounts to total the 500 calories. In order to figure out what those calories are made up of we have to figure out how many calories each gram of macros the food contains.
Protein is the king macronutrient. It’s filling, helps build lean muscle, aids in tissue repair, helps you avoid losing muscle when you’re in a calorie deficit and It also takes more energy for the body to break down than the other macronutrients so if you ever overeat food make sure it’s protein-rich like a big ol juicy steak or any type of slow cooked meat.
Each gram of protein contains 4 calories.
Best Sources Of Protein
- Protein Powder
How Much Do You Need?
Here is a simple guide I use to calculate protein for anyone whether it be a male or female or whether it be losing fat or gaining muscle.
BW (in kg) x 2 E.g = 70kg x 2 = 140g of protein
BW (in lbs) x 1 E.g = 155lbs x 1 = 155g of protein
Can you have more than I recommend? Absolutely.
Can you have less? Yes, but because of the recommendations above, I highly recommend that you don’t.
Fats are required for hormone function such as testosterone, insulating and protecting our vital organs, with brain function and our body needs a certain amount of fat a day that we can’t produce naturally which is why it’s so important. Fat used to get a bad rap but now the tables have turned and it appears that fat isn’t as bad for you as we thought it might be, but too much fat can lead to problems too (so don’t go crazy with that keto fad most people are getting sucked in to).
Fat contains a whopping 9 calories per gram which is double the amount of protein and carbs. That’s why if you have a high-fat diet it’s easy to go over your calorie limit for the day since you eat more calories in a smaller serving of food.
Best Sources Of Fats
- fatty meats and fatty fish
How Much Do You Need?
The minimum amount of fat you should consume is about .6g per kg (.3g per pound) of bodyweight which means if you are 70kg (142 pounds) it would be 42g of fat. However, I’d recommend going a little higher and choosing 1g per kg of body weight (.5 per pound), which means you’d be consuming 70g a day.
Carbs aren’t the devil and you need them in your diet. Your brain’s main source of energy is carbs, when you’re running or lifting weights your body’s primary fuel is carbs and if you want to avoid biting your coworkers arm off because you’re hungry you will want to have some carbs in your life. The only thing is that there’s no essential requirement for carbs because everyone is different. Some people would rather eat more carbs and some would rather eat more fat, in reality, it doesn’t really matter, but it’s better to err on the side of some carbs instead of none.
Best Sources Of Carbs
How Much Do You Need?
This is a tricky one because your activity level, how lean you are, how hard you exercise and a whole bunch of other factors can affect how many carbs you need. In general, I would suggest 100g a day minimum to help keep you sane and not go biting peoples heads off.
Ah yes, the question on your lips, is alcohol carbs, fats or protein? Actually, alcohol contains its own calories which means it’s also a macronutrient it’s just not essential or necessary.
Alcohol comes in at 7 calories per gram. Now, this can be confusing because if you see a shot of vodka which is 1 oz and it equals 64 calories how does that work out? It’s because of the volume of water also in the alcohol, since you’re not just drinking straight 100% proof (although I hope not).
1g of Protein = 4 calories
1g of carbs = 4 calories
1g of fats = 9 calories
1g of alcohol = 7 calories
How do you track these things?
So now you know what foods are made up of, how are you supposed to track these things. This is where I get really excited…
The first thing you need to do is to use an app that has a database of food and what their macros are. My favourite app that I use and recommend to my clients is myfitnesspal. If you don’t want to use myfitnesspal you can use google, nutrition data or chronometer to track your food.
It doesn’t matter which one you pick, just start with one and go from there.
HOW TO READ A FOOD LABEL
Have you ever looked at a nutrition label and wondered how the hell to understand what’s really on there? LuckilyI’m going to make this as easy as possible to follow.
The first area to look at is the number of servings that are on the food label. Just because you have one item of food does not mean that it only contains one serving. This is where you can easily be tricked into thinking you’re eating less than you really are.
Once you’ve had a look at the serving sizes and the number of calories you need to have a look at how much protein it contains. If the food is low in protein I usually suggest you give it a miss, especially when trying to lose weight because the lower the protein and the higher the carbs and fats the less satiating it is.
Once you’ve had a look at the protein serving the next thing to look at is fat. If the food is high in calories it’s most likely because it’s either high in fats or carbohydrates which is why it’s important to be aware of how many grams are in the food since you don’t want to blow your calories out of the water. There’s no point being concerned about saturated fat since it’s not as bad as we once thought it was. Having some saturated fat in your diet is fine.
Trans fats are extremely bad for you and you should avoid these at all costs. Where do they usually hide? In the best-tasting food of course. Deep fried food, biscuits, chips, doughnuts are all trans fats. Basically, that means that the fat they used to coat the food got to such a high cooking point that it changes the structure of the fat and the body doesn’t know what to do with it which is why it’s very bad for you. Now obviously you’re never going to fully eliminate this fat because you enjoy some treat foods, but try and keep this as minimal as possible.
Can you see a connection between what’s going on here? You want to look at the macronutrients and calories in the food first to see if it’s going to fit in with your goals for the day. Looking at these three macronutrients on food labels is going to help you understand what foods are made up of and whether you should be spending your precious calories on a certain item.
There is a difference between natural sugar and added sugar. If you look at a label of milk you will see that says there’s a certain amount of sugar but when you look at the ingredients you will see no sugar add so what gives? Some foods like fruit and dairy contain natural sugar and you do not have to worry about this. What you want to keep an eye on is ADDED SUGAR. Your goal should be to always keep this as low as possible. The less processed the food the less sugar it naturally has (except raw cane sugar of course).
What about the rest
To be honest, everything else on the label is not worth paying attention to unless you have a serious health issue like blood pressure. If you don’t have issues with blood pressure or cholesterol then just ignore the rest for the sake of having your mind boggled for hours on end.
This is how you should really look at a food label.
Now, this is also where you can apply what you’ve learned above with macronutrients and calories.
Protein: 3g x 4 = 12 calories
Carbs: 37g x 4 = 148 calories
Fats:8g x 9 = 72 calories
148+12+72 = 232 calories. Pretty spot on except for the slight rouding error on the nutrition label.
If this doesn’t come naturally just try a practising on a few different items in your pantry.
Why it’s a good idea to get good at reading food labels
As you can see from the example above a pint of halo top ice cream can contain a significance difference in calories than ben & jerry’s and still be the same size. Once you start to discover just how many calories certain foods contain and what their macronutrient ratios are you’re going to be shocked.
FOODS WITH NO LABEL
Some of the food you buy from the supermarket isn’t going to contain a label, like fruits, some meats, vegetables etc.
In this case, if you’re using myfitnesspal you can just look up the food item on there or you can simply google “[insert food] nutrition and it will pop up with your answer to figure out how much protein carbs and fats are in that specific food.
You will see a few calories difference here and there but don’t get too caught up in it. If it’s 10 – 15 calories difference it’s not going to make a massive difference since it’s mostly just fruit and vegetables.
There’s no simple guide that I can give you that will cover everything you need to know when you’re eating out. Most restaurants these days will have their nutrition guide on their website so you can quickly have a look to get an idea as to how many calories it contains or you can just apply a little rule of thumb and say that the meal is 800 – 1000 calories. Why this number? Because most restaurants use a lot of oils, fats and carbs and I’d always recommend you overestimate your calories instead of underestimating them just for the sake of having it affect your goals.
HOW TO MEASURE YOUR FOOD
Ok so we’ve covered the nitty-gritty of what food is made up of, now let’s talk about how to measure your food.
I highly recommend you buy yourself this food scale so that you’re able to weigh all of your food. Yes this will seem like a pain in the ass at first but that’s because everything new is going to be hard but when you get better at it over time you won’t have to be so diligent. The reason this is so important is that you don’t know what a serving size looks like at first.
One 40g serving of cereal is a lot less than you might think it is. 20g of peanut butter is not really that much and it hurts my heart to write this but when you have a piece of cake and you measure that, well let’s just say your inner child will cry when you see how many calories it contains.
This is a good thing though because when you start to become more aware of what a serving size looks like you can start eyeballing food and not have to use the scale as much. For the first month, I recommend you weigh everything. After the first month play a game with yourself and guess the serving size before you actually weigh it out. Eventually, you’re going to get so good at eyeballing food that you will be able to guess how many calories foods contain in restaurants and you will also have to use the scale less and less until it becomes second nature.
Weigh everything raw
Whenever you have the opportunity weight all of your food raw. Meat, vegetables, fruit and anything else you put into your mouth should be weighed raw since cooking changes the weight of the food. If you order uber eats or get a food that’s already cooked you can still search on myfitnesspal or google for the nutrition of the cooked food to get an estimate but the most accurate way is to weigh your food raw whenever possible.
Do Calories Still Matter?
Calories still do matter because if you just follow a calorie goal and you eat less than you burn then you will still lose weight. The only problem with this is If your calories are coming from primarily carbs and fats you can guarantee that you’re going to lose muscle mass, be extremely hungry, have less energy, look skinny fat and not look good with your shirt off. If on the otherhand you’re eating lots of protein you can be sure you will keep full, help with muscle repair and look better.
This is why following your macronutrient goals are much more important and what you will also realise is as long as you’re hitting your macro goals for the day you’re going to hit the required number of calories that you needed to hit for that day anyway.
Summing It Up
That’s as far as you need to go and as much as you need to know when it comes to tracking your macronutrients. The important thing you now need to do is to actually apply what you’ve learned and started tracking. Once you start to track food and become aware of how much you’re eating, you’re then in control and get to choose what you can and what you can’t eat. If you’re eating 2000 calories a day, you can decide where you want those 2000 calories to come from and if you want to have some ice cream or beer in your diet then you can now do so since you have the knowledge about how to fit it in your diet.
If you have any questions please message me on Instagram and send me a DM
WANT TO LOOK GREAT NAKED?
Hey listen, I know this stuff can be hard and I don’t want to see you struggle anymore. And I was put here on this earth to help my clients lose weight so you can look good on the beach, feel great so you have more energy when you hey wake up in the morning, and get back in shape so you can feel confident in your body. So if you’re looking to change, hit me up. I’ll show you exactly what you need to do so you can stop guess and start progressing. No more plateaus.
But please do so soon… My 1-on-1 clients get a lot of attention and I can only take a few more people this month.