Many people choose to track their macros to meet their weight and health goals. However, busy days can make it challenging to stay on top of your nutrition goals – let alone stay on top of your macros.
Although it can seem overwhelming to tackle your goals on a busy day, succeeding with your macros does not have to be so challenging.
This article will explain what macros are, the benefits of tracking macros, as well as outline specific tips and tricks to help you stay on top of your macro goals.
What are Macros?
The term “macros” is an abbreviated way of saying macronutrients. Macronutrients are the three categories of nutrients that we need the most and they provide us with most of our energy: carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
When people are counting their macros, they are essentially counting the grams of carbs, protein, and fat that they’re eating.
All of the macronutrients are essential to our health.
Carbs give us energy, stabilize blood sugar, and ensure proper brain function. Protein builds muscles, supports the immune system, and allows us to grow and function. Fat helps us absorb nutrients, supports hormone function, and helps us feel full.
Macronutrients – carbs, protein, and fat – are all vital to our health. Continue reading to understand the benefits of tracking macros for optimal health and performance.
What are the Benefits of Tracking Macros?
People may choose to track macros for a variety of reasons. Whether you’re looking to lose weight, gain weight, or build muscle, for example, tracking your macronutrient intake can be quite helpful.
The body has pretty specific nutrient needs depending on your goals. Tracking is one way to ensure you are on a path that is going to help you reach these goals.
Lose Excess Fat
Sticking to a specific macro plan can help optimize your intake to help you lose excess body fat. Typically, the ideal macro plan for someone looking to lose weight is to have a high protein, lower carbohydrate, moderate fat macronutrient distribution.
Support Muscle Growth
If you’re looking to increase muscle, it’s important to keep up with your body’s needs for protein and carbohydrates. It’s typically best to consume a high protein and moderate carbohydrate diet to support muscle growth.
Tune in With Your Body
The act of tracking macros can help people become more in tune with what they are choosing to feed themselves, and how it makes them feel. Learning the ratios of carbs, protein, and fat can tell you a lot about your habits and food choices.
Keep You Satisfied
Each of the macronutrients works together to help us feel satisfied. By staying on top of your macros, you can ensure you are getting a good balance of carbs, protein, and fats to keep you feeling full and satisfied between meals.
Macros Aren’t the End All Be All
It’s important to remember that just because you choose to count your macros, it doesn’t necessarily mean your diet is healthy.
Technically, it’s possible to meet your macronutrient goals without ever having a single vegetable. Therefore, it’s important to think about the quality of the macronutrients you're consuming, and aim to include nutrient-dense foods from a wide variety of food groups.
But overall, tracking macros can be quite beneficial to help you stay on top of your goals, whether you’re looking to lose weight, build muscle, or simply become more in-tune with how you nourish your body.
How Should I Split My Macros?
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to macro recommendations. Every human body is different, which means we have different needs, too.
Your specific macros will depend on your weight, height, activity level, age, and personal wellness goals.
For example, if you’re an athlete looking to build muscle you might benefit from consuming 40% protein, 30% fat, and 30% carbs.
Perhaps you’re looking to reduce body fat, which would indicate you likely could benefit from a higher protein diet. This plan might look like 35% carbs, 30% fat, and 35% protein.
If you’re simply looking to have a balanced and healthy lifestyle, it’s best to aim for a macronutrient distribution that aligns with the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR), which was developed to outline the needs for most healthy adults (1).
The AMDR suggests that 45-65% of energy should come from carbohydrates, 10-35% from protein, and 20-35% from fat.
How do I Track My Macros?
The first step to calculate your macros is to determine your daily calorie needs.
There are many online calculators that can help you calculate your target calorie goal. You may also choose to work with a Registered Dietitian who can help you determine your specific needs.
After determining your calorie needs, it's important to understand the breakdown of macronutrients that will best support your goals. One gram of carbohydrates provides 4 calories per gram, one gram of protein provides 4 calories per gram, and one gram of fat provides 9 calories per gram.
Using this information, you can calculate how many grams of each macronutrient you need per day. Here’s an example:
Let’s say you need 2,000 calories per day, with 50% of calories coming from carbohydrates, 20% coming from protein, and 30% of calories coming from fat. This comes out to 250g of carbs, 100g of protein, and 67g of fat per day.
Tips to Stay on Top of Macros on a Busy Day
There’s no need to fret if you have days without access to your kitchen, or don’t have time to visit your go-to healthy restaurant or shops. With these simple tips and tricks, you will be able to stay on top of your macro goals – even on the busiest of days.
Here are 5 tips and ideas to help you stay on top of your macro goals:
Snack on Protein Bars
Protein bars are a convenient way to nourish yourself when you’re low on time. Look for bars that are low in sugar, and high in fiber and protein. Our chocolate fudge flavored healthy protein bars are a great example that not only meet these nutrition targets but taste great as well.
Stick to a Schedule
Busy days may lead to skipping meals and eating at irregular times. To ensure you’re staying on top of your macro goals, aim to eat every 3-4 hours and avoid skipping meals. This will not only keep you energized, but eating more frequently can also support metabolism.
Keep Protein Shakes Handy
Similarly to keeping protein bars handy, protein shakes like Naked Shake are another fantastic source of nutrients that you can easily grab when you’re on-the-go. Look for protein shakes with at least 20-30 grams of protein to help you meet your protein goals and keep you satisfied.
The secret to succeeding with your macros is all in the planning. Write out ahead of time what your meals and snacks will be for the day. While planning might take some extra work, it will allow you to move through your day feeling confident, knowing that you are fueling your body with the nutrition it needs.
Use a Food Logging Tool
It would be pretty difficult to know how many grams of carbs, fats, and protein you’re eating without using a tracking tool. There are many apps that can help you stay on top of your macronutrient goals, or you can simply use a pen and paper to track what you’re eating.
As with any practice, it’s key to be consistent with your nutrition to effectively build habits and see success.
Although there is no such thing as a perfect diet, it’s important to fuel your body with carbs, protein, and fats every single day.
The macronutrient ratios that your body needs will depend on your specific body and goals.
Even on busy days, it’s possible to stay on top of your nutrition habits and macro tracking by focusing on planning ahead, sticking to a schedule, tracking your meals, and keeping healthy snacks and meal replacements on hand.