First things first, what are macros and why should they be used?

The word ‘macros’ is short for macro nutrients, which are protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Counting macros is a more detailed version of counting your calories. Instead of just getting a total calorie count for the day, watching your macros allows you to know exactly where the calories are coming from. Knowing your macros tells you how many grams of carbs you should eat in order to reach your goal, how many grams of protein, and how many grams of fat. It may also allow you to be more flexible in your diet.

There are a few macro splits (ratios of carbs:protein:fat) that are like a one size fits all. However, one size doesn’t fit all! The following method may help you figure out your personal macros in order to fit your lifestyle and goals.

To begin, you need to know how many calories come from carbs, protein, and fat.

  • Carbs: 4 calories/gram
    • ex. 8 g of carbs x 4 calories = 16 calories from carbs
  • Protein: 4 calories/gram
    • ex. 12 g of protein 4 calories = 48 calories from protein
  • Fat: 9 calories/gram
    • ex. 3 g of fat x 9 calories = 27 calories from fat

This will never change. There will always be 4 calories per gram for carbs and protein and 9 calories per gram of fat. It’s called the 4, 4, 9 rule.

Next, you can figure out your own macros!

  1. Know your goal: gain weight, lose weight, or maintain
    • In order to gain, you need to take in more calories than you burn
    • In order to lose weight, you need to take in less calories than you burn
  2. Calculate your BMR (basal metabolic rate, or the amount of energy/calories expended while at rest)
  3. Determine your activity factor
    1. Sedentary (almost nothing) = BMR x 1.2
    2. Lightly active (working out 1-3 days/week) = BMR x 1.375
    3. Moderate ( working out 3-5 days/week) = BMR x 1.55
    4. Active (working out 6-7 days/week) = BMR x 1.725
    5. Very active (physically demanding job & working out) = BMR x 1.9
  4. Think back to your goal
    • Maintain = BMR x activity factor
    • Lose weight = BMR x activity factor – 500
    • Gain weight = BMR x activity factor + 400
  5. Use your daily calorie need to figure out your macros
    1. Protein
      • 1 g per pound of body weight
        • ex. 150 lb person needs 150g of protein
        • 150g x 4 cal/g of protein = 600 cal of protein
    2. Fat
      • .4 per pound of body weight
        • ex. 150 lb person needs 60 g of fat
        • 60g  x 9 cal/g of fat = 540 cal of fat
    3. Carbs
      1. Total calorie count – calories from protein – calories from fat = calories of carbs
      2. Calories of carbs/4 = grams of carbs

Now that you’ve figured out your macros, you’re one step closer to reaching your goals! Remember you can’t out train a poor diet, so what you put into your body is super important. An easy way to keep track of your macros and what you’ve eaten is the free MyFitnessPal app or online.