I talk a lot about how to track macros and how to balance them in meals on my blog. Not only that, but my nutrition coaching is based on macro tracking, so it’s pretty clear that macronutrients are my jam. I get a lot of questions on how to track macros from potential clients and readers, so I’m here to address them!
What are macronutrients?
How are they different from calories?
How do I track macros?
The short answer is, there isn’t really a *difference* when it comes to the total amount of energy you are eating. But, before you get all confused, let me try to break it down here…
Calories are units of energy that our bodies use to function. All foods have calories and that is why we eat food so that we can get energy that our bodies can use to function. So where do macronutrients come into play here? Macronutrients are what make up the caloric content of a food. Every food is comprised of the 3 macronutrients: fat, carbohydrate and protein. Not every food has an equal amount of each macro, which is why you see things like “Good sources of carbs: Fruit, Bread, Oatmeal” Because some foods are richer in one macronutrient over another…
Each macro has a caloric value per gram. Carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram, Protein has 4 calories per gram and Fat has 9 calories per gram. So, when you see a food wrapper and it tells you how many calories are in the whole thing, those calories are coming from fat, carbs and protein since all food is made up of those 3 macronutrients. The caloric content of the food is simply calculated by multiplying the number of grams of each macronutrient by the caloric content per gram and adding them all up.
So, it’s not like the calorie total of food comes from nowhere. It comes from the combination of fat, carbs and protein that make up the food. Since our bodies metabolize each macronutrient differently, it’s more important to get the right balance of each macronutrient if you want to feel and perform your best. Sure, you can just count to a caloric total of say, 2000 calories a day and each whatever combination of macros to get to 2000 calories, OR you can still count to a total of 2000 calories a day, but count where the calories are coming from by tracking the amount of each macro you eat to get to 2000 calories. So you would eat say, 225g carbs, 175g protein and 45g fat, which still equates to 2000 calories (225×4) + (175×4) + (45×9)= about 2000 calories.
Both mean you are eating the same amount of calories per day, but one means you may not be getting a good balance and therefore not feeling too great, while the other means you will be feeling more balanced and energized. So, this is why I recommend tracking macros over just trying to hit a calorie target per day. Both ways will still control the amount of calories you are eating, but by tracking macros you are ensuring a much better balance of the 3 macros, which will not only help you feel better, but also will help you achieve your fitness and physique goals since your body will utilize the macros for difference purposes.
Now, how do you go about tracking macros?
Well, I’ve laid that all out for you in my free eBook, so you can learn how calculate your target macros and how to track macros. It’s free to download and once you have it, you can save it and refer back to it while you tackle macro tracking.