If you’re looking to take control of your health and fitness, macro dieting, also known as macro calorie counting, can be a powerful tool. By tracking your macronutrient intake, you can optimize your diet for your specific goals and needs. In this guide, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know to get started with macro dieting for beginners.
Understanding Macros and Calories
Before we dive into macro calorie counting, let’s define some terms. Now you don’t have to be a master in nutrition, but it’s essential to understand the basics.
Macronutrients, or macros for short, are the three main nutrients that provide energy: protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Calories are units of energy that food provides. Each macronutrient has a different caloric value:
- Protein: 4 calories per gram
- Carbohydrates: 4 calories per gram
- Fats: 9 calories per gram
This difference is key when it comes to creating calorie deficits or surpluses in a macro diet.
As you can see, if you had a diet primarily led by fatty foods, you would be consuming a lot more calories per gram. Twice as much!
Let’s also take into account the primary uses we use each macro for in a common diet
- Protein: Muscle growth and recovery
- Carbohydrates: easy-to-access energy
- Fat: nutrient absorption, protection, energy stores
By tracking your macros, you can ensure you’re getting the right balance of nutrients for your goals. Because each macronutrient is important.
By following your calories, you can ensure that you’re in a calorie deficit or surplus to reach your weight loss or weight gain goals.
Combining both things is key for macro dieting for beginners.
How to Calculate Your Macros
Calculating your macros can seem overwhelming at first, but it’s actually pretty straightforward.
Here’s a step-by-step guide:
1.Identify your goals: Are you trying to lose weight, gain muscle, or maintain your current weight? Your goals will determine your macro ratios.
- For example. Gaining muscle and losing weight both require high protein to maintain muscle. But gaining muscle probably means more fats and carbs to ensure it’s easier to hit a high-calorie goal. Losing weight will minimize fats and carbs because there won’t be much leeway.
2. Determine your basal metabolic rate: This is the number of calories your body burns at rest. You can use an online calculator to estimate your BMR.
Keep in mind that these are just estimations. Use it as a guide and adjust that number as you progress.
Although losing weight comes from work done in the kitchen primarily. Staying active allows you to have an easier dieting process, as you can consume more food overall.
3. Track macros using an app: There are several apps available that make tracking your macros easy. MyFitnessPal is a popular option.
Be sure to stay accurate. Use a food scale if you really want to be specific.
Once you know your macro ratios, it’s important to choose the right foods to meet your goals. Here are some macro-friendly options:
- Protein sources: Chicken, turkey, fish, tofu, eggs, Greek yogurt
- Carbohydrate sources: Sweet potatoes, quinoa, brown rice, fruits, vegetables(check out more fruits that are great for dieting)
- Fat sources: Avocado, nuts, olive oil, salmon
- Vegetables and fruits: Broccoli, spinach, kale, berries, apples
Sample Meal Plan
Here’s a sample meal plan that hits the recommended macro ratios for a sedentary woman looking to lose weight:
- Breakfast: Greek yogurt with berries and almonds (28g protein, 38g carbs, 18g fat)
- Lunch: Grilled chicken salad with mixed greens, quinoa, and avocado (30g protein, 40g carbs, 15g fat)
- Dinner: Baked salmon with roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli (32g protein, 35g carbs, 12g fat)
- Snacks: Apple with almond butter (6g protein, 20g carbs, 14g fat)
Disclaimer: This is meant to give you a general idea. The diet you choose should be based on your own measurements and lifestyle.
Tips for Success
Macro calorie counting can be challenging, but these tips can help:
- Meal prepping: Prep your meals in advance to ensure you hit your macros each day.
One of the hardest parts about dieting is making decisions on the spot. Meal prepping helps eliminate that problem.
- Eating whole foods: Focus on nutrient-dense foods rather than processed snacks and sweets.
- Staying consistent: Track your macros every day to stay on track.
This is to ensure some self-accountability, so you can be honest with yourself about your macro diet.
- Tracking progress: Use a scale and take progress photos to see how your body is changing.
Eat High Protein Snacks
- This will help keep you on track and it keeps hunger away. Check out Lenny and Larry’s high-protein sweets.
Macro calorie counting can be an effective tool for achieving your health and fitness goals.
There is also a lot to understand before getting started. Especially when macro dieting for beginners who don’t have a lot of experience.
Make sure you get the basics down and then create a personalized plan for your own needs.