What You Need to Know About Macros
In the fitness industry, you will hear the word “macros” a lot. Specifically, “If It Fits Your Macros”, which is a popular diet based around the percentages of macros you consume. There are a lot of books and websites dedicated to teaching you how to create entire meal plans around your macros, but first – what exactly are macros?
Macros is a shortened version of the phrase macronutrients. Macronutrients consist of fats, carbs, and proteins. There is also something called micronutrients, which include vitamins and minerals (i.e. fiber, sugar, sodium, etc) in the foods you eat, but macronutrients are generally talked about and tracked more often than micronutrients.
Since carbs, fat, and protein encompass basically every single food, you are already eating them whether you are already tracking them or not. So the question is – should you be tracking macros?
This is what I tell people when I get asked about the IIFYM (if it fits your macros) diet: It can be a good idea to track your diet just for a few weeks, especially if you are just getting started. It can be a good eye opener showing you the amount of calories you are actually eating each day and the way your calories are broken up into carbs, fats, and proteins. A great app I like to use is called MyFitnessPal. It’s a free app and it helps you track everything from calories to macronutrients and even your water consumption.
I personally aim for about 45-50% carbs, 20% protein and the remainder in healthy fats. I also aim for at least 25 grams of fiber each day. Those percentages are my macros and they help me realize if I’m eating too much protein, or not enough carbs, etc and give me a guideline on where to adjust. Each person’s macronutrient split is going to vary, but this is the combo that works best for me and my body when I am training hard in the gym. If you aren’t sure how many calories to aim for, I put a great formula in this article I wrote for MRM here.
That being said, I don’t track my food every single day. I actually tracked my macros every day for six months once; tracking every gram of food I ate and weighing every portion felt exhaustive and a bit obsessive. That’s why when I am wanting to tighten things up a bit (I don’t usually weigh myself, I typically just gauge where I am at by how my clothes are fitting) or if I am training for a marathon, I will usually track my food for 1-2 weeks if I am wanting to asses where I am at and adjust accordingly. You can even try tracking for 1-3 days if you just need a quick study into how your macros breakdown. Tracking can give you a really good feel for proper portion sizes and then you can use that knowledge to create your meals later when you aren’t tracking your macros.
Keep in mind that regardless of whether you are tracking macronutrients or not, every piece of food you put into your body has macro and micronutrients in it. It is a personal choice whether you would like to track them, but all food has macronutrients so even if you aren’t tracking them, your body is still getting a certain percentage of carbs, fats, and proteins each day. Also, it can be difficult to hit your macros spot on, even when you are tracking, so be sure to give yourself some wiggle room and remember that tomorrow is always a new day to start over and try again.
Do you track your macronutrients? Let me know in the comments!
Natalie Hodson is a mom of two with a heart to help show others how to balance family, fitness and a healthy lifestyle. You can visit her very popular website where she shares healthy recipes, free workouts, blog posts and more www.nataliehodson.com or on social media at: