Let’s talk “Counting Macros”. Like almost anything fitness related, a google search or water-cooler conversations with coworkers will lead you down a rabbit hole of conflicting and confusing information from unqualified sources. My goal is to clarify the what, the why, and the how behind counting macros as well as provide some actionable methods you can apply immediately; as in, 10 minutes from now.
Why Count Macros?:
Counting Macros is the preferred “dieting” method for my clients for a few reasons. First, it considers that not all calories are equal; something that simply counting calories does not. In other words, it takes into consideration that eating 1,000 calories worth of chocolate is not going to yield the same results as eating 1,000 calories of MightyMeals. Next, the variety and adaptability within counting macros makes it sustainable. Any and all foods are available to you with this “dieting” method and adjustments can easily be made when changes come in your health, life, and goals. Most importantly, counting macros will teach you the contents of different foods. Learning this will teach you to intuitively balance your diet and enable you to live a life free of tracking, logging, and weighing food. Understanding what you’re eating rather than simply eating what a diet tells you to is the key to a good relationship with food. Last but not least, counting macros just flat out works. Below is an example of my client, Justin, who applied the simple steps and concepts I am going to outline in this blog.
What are “Macros”?:
Macros, short for Macronutrients, are the nutrients that make up the calories in our foods. When their values are combined, they make up the 100% of the calories in food. These nutrients are Fats, Carbohydrates and Protein.
What is Counting Macros?:
Counting macros takes the process of counting total calories one step further by counting how many calories each specific macronutrient is responsible for. For example; counting calories would be setting a goal of consuming no more than 1,000 calories. Counting macros takes the additional step of setting a goal for how many of those 1,000 calories comes from fat, protein, and carbohydrates respectively.
Set up YOUR Macros:
Here’s the only tricky part: setting your specific parameters for the percentage of your calories you want each macronutrient to be responsible for. Let’s, again, say your goal was to eat 1,000 total calories; how do you determine what percentage of those calories come from proteins? From fats? From carbohydrates? The answer is not concrete.
The uniqueness of each person’s body and their goals dictate what macronutrient split will work best. You must first make an educated guess; assess; then adjust. I have helped hundreds of clients do just that and enjoy great results by establishing a baseline with the steps below. Take 10 minutes and get yourself going:
- Calculate your Caloric Goal by multiplying Your Body Weight (lbs) by the Multiplier below that corresponds to your goal:
*For Example: If John weighed 100 lbs. and his primary goal was Muscle Gain, he would Multiply 100 x 15 = 1500. John’s caloric goal would be 1500 calories per day.
- Make an Account
- Select “More” (Bottom Right) > “Goals” > “Calorie, Carbs, Protein, and Fat Goals”
- Enter the Caloric Goal from step 1. Then enter the percentage of Carbs, Fats, and Protein from below:
*Continuing with the same example from step 1, John would enter 20% for Fats, 40% for Carbs, and 40% for Protein because his goal is Muscle Gain.
*Notice when entering the percentage, it also gives you a total in grams for each macronutrient.
Tracking YOUR Macros:
- Catalogue Your Food in the MYFITNESSPAL App:
- Select the blue “+” Sign > “Food” > Click your meal of choice
- Search for your desired food or scan barcode on label
- Adjust serving size
- Tap the checkmark on the top right
- Check Your Progress:
- Select the “Diary” tab (Bottom Left)
- Scroll to bottom and select “Nutrition” (Top Left)
- Select “Macros” (Top Right) OR “Nutrients” (Top Middle)
- View how close you are to hitting your Macro & Calorie Goals
- Aim to be within +/- 2% of your macro goals each day
Here are some tips I strongly suggest based on my experience with hundreds of clients.
Make your life easy.
- Track AHEAD of time, NOT in real time – Set aside some time to enter in your food ahead of time. Create a grocery list or make choices off menus ahead of time, make sure they fit your macro and calorie goals, then simply eat all of the food you have planned for. Trying to track as you go and seeing what will and won’t fit will become extremely tedious, inaccurate, and will lead to Frankenstein meals where you end up with a quarter banana, an ounce of broccoli, 6 peanuts, and hummus just to fit your macros.
- Eat MightyMeals – Before you think this is a shameless plug, consider two things. First, MightyMeals tend to be very macro-friendly and the website has menu filters that will assist the process of fitting the meals to your goals. Second, all of the MightyMeals are already in MYFITNESSPAL app; simply search for them.
- Meals First, Snacks Second – Start by entering the meals you want to eat into the app. Meals are not as adjustable as snacks and we also want to enjoy the foods we are taking time to prep and sit down to eat. Once the meals are entered, see where the holes are in terms of meeting your macros goals. Then, cater your snacks to fill those holes. For example, if you were short on fats after entering your meals, add in a fatty snack like almonds to fill the gap.
- Be Patient – This isn’t Amazon. Goals aren’t delivered in two days.
This should be plenty to get started! So, Just. Get. Started.
About Chase McKesey: Chase McKesey, founder of TrophyBody Personal Training, grew up in Springfield, Virginia where his youth revolved around year-round sports. At the end of his athletic career, Chase severely missed the competition, comradery, as well as the physical and mental challenges that sport had provided him for so long. Fitness soon filled this void. The lessons learned on the field and the court translated into his workouts and eventually into his coaching. Like sports, everything in the gym was earned; never given. Chase believed strength, long-lasting health, and longevity can only be achieved through consistent effort and perseverance; much like a trophy at the end of championship season. On this principle, TrophyBody Personal Training was born. Chase was determined to coach and empower those willing to put in the work by putting them in the best possible position to succeed.
Since its inception in 2016, TrophyBody has helped 1,000’s of people earn a relationship with their health that they can wear proudly. TrophyBody has established itself as a community leader in its hometown of Washington D.C. as Chase has taken on health-based initiatives to include Mayor Muriel Bowser’s #FITDC campaign and being named Head Strength Coach for the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders. TrophyBody Online, the newest evolution of TrophyBody, is due early Spring 2020.
Chase’s Favorite MightyMeals Dish: Ropa Vieja