Counting macros can help someone make sure they are eating the right ratio of nutrients and maintain a moderate weight.
Macronutrients, or “macros,” are proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. They are essential nutrients that provide energy and help keep people healthy.
This article will discuss what macros are, how to count them, the benefits and potential risks of counting macros, and what healthy foods people can eat to meet their macronutrient goals.
The three types of macros are fat, protein, and carbohydrates.
It is necessary to combine these nutrients in a diet to maintain a person’s health and normal bodily function.
However, health experts disagree on what percentage of fat, protein, and carbohydrates people should consume.
For example, in a
The same study also linked low fat diets, such as those where 7–15% of the diet is fat, with weight loss for those with obesity or overweight, as well as an improvement in metabolic risk factors.
Counting macros can appear overwhelming or complicated. However, there are several steps that people can follow to start counting the macros they need.
1. Calculate your caloric needs
Each person’s daily calorie needs depends on several factors, including:
- the age of the individual
- the weight of the individual
- a person’s sex assigned at birth
- how active an individual is
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases have a free-to-use body weight planner that automatically calculates the number of calories a person needs.
2. Decide on macronutrient percentages
After determining how many calories they require per day, people may wish to tailor their diets to include the correct amount of macronutrients.
- 10–30% as protein
- 25–35% as fat
- 45–65% as carbohydrates
This means that if a person requires 2,000 calories per day, their diet should include:
- 200–600 calories from protein
- 500–700 calories from fat
- 900–1,300 calories from carbohydrates
A person may find that certain ratios of macronutrients are more beneficial than others, depending on their caloric needs, body composition goals, and any health conditions they may have.
For example, someone eating to build muscle mass will want to ensure they achieve a calorie surplus, with a significant percentage of calories from protein and carbohydrates.
In contrast, an individual following the keto diet and aiming to lose weight will want to achieve a different macronutrient ratio, getting most of their calories from fat and very few from carbohydrates, while creating a calorie deficit.
3. Track macronutrients
People may find that tracking the number of macronutrients in their diet is helpful.
There are several ways to track these values. Some people may prefer to use a food diary, where they note which foods they consume and their macronutrient values.
Other people may find prefer to use apps that automatically track these values.
There are several benefits of counting macronutrients.
Preventing health conditions
Some studies state that tracking macronutrients may help prevent certain conditions.
For example, there is
Additionally, high carb diets may help treat and protect against diabetes and cardiovascular conditions.
People may also wish to consult with a healthcare provider for dietary guidance if they have diabetes or vascular or cardiovascular conditions.
Maintaining a moderate weight and reaching fitness goals
Counting macronutrients may help people maintain a moderate weight.
Additionally, counting macronutrients may help people reach their fitness goals.
There are several foods that are healthy sources of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
Sources of high-quality protein include:
- fish, such as tuna and salmon
- poultry, such as turkey and chicken breast
- dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt
- beans and legumes
- nuts and seeds
- tofu and soy products
Sources of healthy fats include:
- olive or avocado oil
- nuts, such as walnuts, macadamias, and brazil nuts
- peanut butter
- seeds, such as sunflower, sesame, chia, flax, and pumpkin
Healthy sources of carbohydrates
- fruits and vegetables
- whole grains, such as brown rice
- whole grain bread
- whole wheat pasta
While some people may benefit from macro counting, including those who wish to maintain a moderate body weight, others may not find it suitable.
Counting macronutrients and calories may not be suitable for those who have a history of disordered eating.
There is also evidence that young adults who do not have a history of disordered eating may
It is important to maintain healthy eating habits while tracking calories and nutrients.
If a person believes they may be experiencing disordered eating patterns, they can seek support from a healthcare professional.
Macronutrients are essential nutrients, which provide energy to the body and help keep people healthy.
A person can start counting macronutrients by researching their calorie needs and including percentages of their calories as protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
Diets that follow specific macronutrient percentages may help with:
- preventing or treating certain conditions
- achieving and maintaining a moderate body weight
- hitting fitness goals
However, counting macros may not be beneficial for people who have a history of disordered eating. Counting calories and nutrients may lead these people to overcontrol their food intake in a way that affects their ability to spend time with friends and family.