Do you detest the thought of counting calories yet feel that you must track something in order to reach your weight loss objectives? You may be a good candidate for the macro diet.
For a long time, serious athletes have focused on their macronutrients, or macros, in order to improve their performance. But more lately, macro-focused diets—also referred to as flexible dieting or the IIFYM diet—have gained popularity among dieters who are seeking to control their weight, including fitness fanatics. If you’ve seen IIFYM, or If It Fits Your Macros, on Facebook or Instagram, you might have noticed the trend. (One thing to keep in mind: The macro diet and the macrobiotic diet are not the same.)
What exactly is the macro diet, and is it something you should try? Here are all of your questions’ answers, along with step-by-step instructions on how to begin.
What is the macro diet?
The macro diet’s basic premise is straightforward: rather of counting calories, you concentrate on consuming a specific amount (usually grammes) of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. You can modify your protein, carbohydrate, and fat intake to lose weight, gain muscle, or maintain your weight depending on your objectives.
Carbohydrates, protein, and fat are the three macronutrients that give you the majority of your energy.
The sorts of nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals, that your body requires in lower amounts are known as micronutrients.
The majority of foods contain two or even all three macronutrients, but they are classified according to the macronutrient that they contain the most of. For instance, sweet potatoes are regarded as a carb despite if they contain some protein, and chicken is a protein even though it also contains some fat.
Different macronutrients have different functions. According to registered dietitian Amy Goodson, R.D., C.S.S.D., “The quality and amount of different macronutrient groups could impact if your blood sugar falls or stays stable, if you have steady energy or are all over the place, and how much you eat at a sitting.” How successfully you are able to keep to your healthy eating plan depends on all of those factors.
Here are some good options for each category of macronutrients, for instance:
Healthy carbs including whole grains, legumes, leafy greens, potatoes, and fruit often have a high fibre content.
Proteins: Chicken, turkey, grass-fed beef, fatty fish (such as salmon and mackerel), eggs, and plant-based proteins like beans and chickpeas are all excellent choices for healthy, lean proteins.
Satisfying, nutritious fats include nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, and avocado oil.
What advantages does a macro diet have?
The advantages of measuring macros over calories are numerous. First off, by making you think about the calibre of your food, it might encourage you to make healthier decisions. For instance, if you’re on a diet that restricts calories and have 200 calories available for a snack, you may choose to eat something nutritious like an apple and a tablespoon of almond butter, or you could choose to eat a 200-calorie bag of nutritionally deficient Cheez-Its. On the other hand, if you’re keeping track of your macros, you’d need to pick a snack that complied.
And counting macros has one key advantage if losing weight is your goal: People who follow a macro diet typically consume a little bit more protein than the average eater. Protein reduces desire and needs more energy to digest and utilise than carbohydrates or fat, according to Georgie Fear, R.D., author of Lean Habits for Healthy Weight Loss. A macros diet could help you see the value of sensible serving portions.
The freedom to select meals you genuinely enjoy, provided they meet your macro plan, is arguably the largest advantage of a macro diet. Finding a healthy balance of nutrient-dense foods is crucial, but going with an IIFYM plan gives you the freedom to occasionally treat yourself, which is often what makes it easier for people to stick with in the long run.
The macro diet has any drawbacks right?
Occasionally, but not usually, measuring macros is simpler than monitoring daily calories. If you stick to the fundamental rules, such as reserving a certain amount of your plate for protein, carbohydrates, and fat, it may be rather simple. (More on it in a moment.) But according to Goodson, achieving precise numerical targets (such as striving for X grammes of protein every meal) isn’t really any simpler. You are still counting things, after all. It could be more difficult now that there are three different numbers instead of just one, though.
The macro diet also has a tendency to make eating meals and snacks a puzzle. Fear claims that this makes trying to find something to fill in exactly what is required for one macro without going over on the others feel like playing the Tetris game of macros. Given that very few foods contain just one macronutrient, that can be challenging. For example, a cup of plain, low-fat Greek yoghurt has 8 grammes of carbohydrates and 4 grammes of fat in addition to 20 grammes of protein.
Finally, it may worsen or trigger an eating disorder. The focus on measuring, counting, and recording macros can encourage compulsive eating behaviors. In addition to feeling restrictive, a macros diet can feel difficult to follow.
Who can profit from macro counting?
Theoretically, anyone can lose weight by following a macros diet. But according to Fear, it isn’t any more efficient than calorie counting or even simply watching your portions. Additionally, it can be laborious in practice.
However, if the whole puzzle-piecing aspect appeals to you, it might be worth a shot. Macros counting “helps someone to continue eating in a certain way when they might otherwise get bored if it’s enjoyable as a game,” says Fear. However, it might be challenging to maintain if that level of attention to detail feels like a chore or makes you anxious.
How should macronutrients be tallied for weight loss?
Your age, size, and level of activity all play a role in this. According to Goodson, “those who exercise need a different amount of carbs and protein than someone who is more sedentary.” However, these ratios are a good place to start in general:
- If you exercise for an hour or less daily: 30% protein, 30% fat, 40% carbs
- If you exercise for one to two hours daily: 30% protein, 25% fat, 45% carbs
- If you exercise for more than two hours daily: Consider seeing a certified sports dietitian. “You need personalization to maintain that high physical output and lose weight safely,” Fear says.
What is the simplest method for counting macros?
Knowing which macro ratio works best now will help you determine how many macros you actually need and how to keep track of them.
1. Determine your caloric requirements.
Once more, this is based on your age, size, level of activity, and desired rate of weight loss. Use a calculator that will take all of this into account, such as the Body Weight Planner provided by the National Institutes of Health.
2. Total the macros you used.
When you know how many calories you should consume each day, you can use your macro ratio to calculate exactly how many grammes of protein, fat, and carbohydrates to consume daily. While some math is required for this, you can expedite the process by using a macro calculator, such as the one from freedieting.com. We discovered using this tool that a woman consuming 1,500 calories and exercising for 30 minutes most days of the week would require 150 grammes of carbohydrates, 112 grammes of protein, and 50 grammes of fat each day.
3. Keep track of your macros using an app.
You’ll need to monitor how much of each macronutrient you actually consume at meals and snacks now that you know how much you need of each. The simplest way to do this, just like with calorie counting, is with a food tracker app, according to Goodson. Apps that are common for tracking macros include:
Everything here seems a little confusing. Can a beginner track macros?
You’re not the only one if the concept of a macro diet overwhelms you. There is no doubt that commitment is necessary for this level of meticulous tracking. Similar to calorie counting, it can be particularly difficult if you frequently eat out.
To simply rely on your eyeballs is a simpler—though less accurate—alternative, according to Goodson. A good rule of thumb is to make a little over a quarter of your plate lean protein and about a quarter of your plate whole grains or starchy vegetables if you’re trying to get your macros in but hate tracking food. Fill the remainder of your plate with non-starchy vegetables, which are classified as carbs when it comes to macro counting. You don’t need to worry about making room for fat on your plate as long as some of the foods there have added fat (like salad greens dressed with vinaigrette or chicken roasted in olive oil).
And if you’re still hungry, Goodson advises eating more vegetables. This approach won’t ensure that your macronutrients are broken down in a 30/30/40 manner, but it will still guarantee that you consume a sufficient amount of protein at each meal and aren’t consuming too many starchy carbohydrates. Additionally crucial, it will support controlling your portion sizes. And you can achieve your weight loss objectives by doing both of those things.