Wondering how to get started tracking macros? Here’s a quick overview to get you started.
First off- what does it mean to track macros? When you track macros (macronutrients), you’re simply tracking how much fat, protein, and carbs you are eating.
The reason we refer to these 3, and not things like sodium, fiber, or cholesterol, is that macronutrients are the components that have caloric value.
1 gram of fat has 9 calories.
1 gram of protein has 4 calories.
1 gram of carbohydrates has 4 calories.
Technically speaking, alcohol is the 4th macronutrient, and has 7 calories per gram, but it’s not widely discussed as a macronutrient because it’s not essential in our lives. We’re going to ignore alcohol completely here since it’s not a staple in our diets, but just note that alcohol does indeed also have calories.
No matter which way you slice it, the caloric values listed above are ALWAYS true. Foods that are high in fat, such as nuts or avocado, are also high in calories, because fat has a high caloric value. A food cannot have 20 grams of protein and only 50 calories, because 20g of protein will ALWAYS contain 80 calories (20g x 4 calories = 80 calories).
That’s why 100 calories of fruit will look different than 100 calories of candy. People that say “all calories are not created equal” are incorrect. They ARE all equal, since it’s just a unit of measurement…
The caloric value is identical in this example: 100 calories.
But their macronutrients are different. An apple might be 25g of carbs, and the dark chocolate might be 10g of fat and 2.5g of carbs.
A calorie can’t be different from another calorie, but where it comes from can be different.
Now back to the topic of tracking…
If you want to start tracking your macros, you need to first figure out how many calories you want to be eating overall.
Once you get that number, you break it up into your macros. The exact way you choose to break it up is dependent on your preferences on your goals, but use the above to help guide you! Obviously, if you are doing something like keto, the “rules” will be slightly different, but this should apply to the general population.
To actually track your food, I like to use an app like MyFitnessPal. While I would advise you to completely ignore their calorie recommendations and exercise portions (they’re total garbage), apps like this allow you to input your food to figure out the exact macros and track your intake.
The most important thing I want you to understand is that tracking macros is a TOOL. Much like intermittent fasting is a tool to help you lose weight, you don’t have to do it, and you absolutely shouldn’t use it forever. And if you’re unsure if tracking macros is right for you, please check out this post to help you.
The goal should be to eventually become comfortable and have a solid understanding of nutrition to not have to track everything!
If you want to dive more into macros and how to set your own, how to calculate your calories, and every other possible topic pertaining to the basics of nutrition, I’ve got you covered!
Head over to cheatdaydesign.com/nutrition-guide to pick up a copy of my nutrition e-book that includes all that and much, much more!