The Macro Lowdown: What Are They And How To Count Them

Forget counting calories to get the body you want – the fittest women around are all about counting macros.



What Are Macros?
Short for macronutrients, macros are nutrients that provide calories or energy. Basically, the three key food groups we need for our bodies to function – carbohydrates, protein and fats. Carbs fuel energy, proteins build and repair muscle, while fats keep you satiated. Each macro contains a number of calories, which is what you measure.

The idea is that by getting the right balance of the three, you’ll not just lose weight, but burn fat and build lean muscle way more effectively. Counting macros has been a way of life in the fitness community for years, and recognizes that not all calories are created equal. Your body will use 10 calories of fat completely differently to how it uses 10 calories of carbohydrates. While each of these macronutrients provides calories, the amount of calories that each one provides varies. Carbohydrate provides 4 calories per gram, protein provides 4 calories per gram and fat provides 9 calories per gram. A nutrition label, the scale and a macro counting app will help you figure out what’s in the food you plan to eat.

Counting macros eliminates the typical side effects of dieting – feeling hungry, lacking energy, and being irritable. With the right macros, you can remain full all day, stay energetic, and build lean muscle.

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How To Count Macros:

To figure our your macro ratio, you need to work out your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) – the rate at which your body uses energy to stay alive – then take into account your activity level. You can calculate this with If It Fits Your Macros brilliant macro counting calculator, which will then give you a daily calorie target that you can split into the three macronutrients (protein, carbs, fat).
 



This is where you have to be smart with what you eat. If you’re exercising regularly, carbohydrates are essential for energy. But with a more sedentary lifestyle, they become problematic. At rest, the body prefers to utilise fat for fuel, but switches to carbohydrates during high-intensity exercise, so rest days are better fuelled with a higher fat and protein to carb ratio, while on active days, more carbohydrates and protein is preferable (because excess fat will just be stored for later).
 
Obviously it goes without saying that you can’t binge on junk food with the justification that it fits your macro ratio. As with any balanced diet, clean, whole foods are key, but the thing we love about counting macros is that if you are strategic about calories, you can slip in some chocolate or a slice of pizza if you want to. Work on the 80/20 basis and you’re good.

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Help With Counting Macros:
Counting macros and finding your perfect ratio will definitely take practice, but it’s worth the perseverance. Just remember your weight – which has an affect on your BMR – and your activity level. Macro counting apps are super helpful too. My Fitness Pal has a thorough list of foods, while top apps include My Macros+Diet, Weight, and Calorie Tracker, MyNetDiary PRO and Fitocracy Macros.