Counting Macros - Why It Matters And How To Do It

5 min read

September 9th, 2020

If you want to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit. That means you need to consume fewer calories than usual. Providing the shortfall is sufficient, your body will burn stored body fat to make up the difference.

Calorie counting for weight loss is simple math. For example, if you need 2000 calories to maintain your current weight, but you only eat 1500, over seven days, your calorie deficit will add up to 3,500. That's enough to lose about one pound of fat.

Most diets work by reducing your food intake to create a calorie deficit. There are several ways to achieve this, including

  •    Smaller meals
  •    Fewer meals per day
  •    Skipping meals
  •    Replacing high-calorie meals with low calorie shakes, bars, or soups
  •    Eliminating high-calorie foods, e.g., sugar or alcohol
  •    A combination of the above

However, while counting and eating fewer calories can lead to weight loss, the only thing you are considering is the amount of energy in your food. There is more to a healthy, weight loss diet than how many calories you are consuming.

Why counting macros is so important 

While the number of calories you eat is important, the source of those calories is critical too. That’s why you need to start counting macros. 

For example, an apple and a cookie contain roughly the same number of calories – about 60. But, where the apple contains vitamins, minerals, fiber, and only a little sugar, the cookie is processed, loaded with sugar and trans fats, and is highly processed. Needless to say, apples are MUCH better for your health and weight loss than cookies, even if their calorie value is roughly the same.

Because of this, fitness experts like Warrior Babe Nikkiey Stott recommend that you not only count calories, you count macronutrients too. Counting macros will give you a much better idea of what is in your food. 

What are macronutrients?

Macronutrients, or macros for short, is the collective term for protein, carbohydrate, and fat. The macronutrients provide your body with calories. Protein and carbohydrates contain four calories per gram, while fat contains nine. Alcohol, while not a true macro, also contains calories – seven per gram.

Each of the macros affects your body differently, and that’s why you need to consider more than just calories when you are planning your Warrior Babe diet.

Your body uses protein for muscle repair and growth. In addition, protein has a high thermal effect, which means eating protein increases your metabolic rate. The thermal effect of protein is between 20-30%. That means for every 100 calories of protein you eat, 20-30 are used during the digestive process. Protein is very satiation or filling too. That’s why high protein diets are so good weight loss.

Carbohydrates are an important source of energy. They are broken down into glucose to and provide readily available source of fuel. Unused carbs are converted to and stored as fat. As a rule, the more active you are, the more carbs your body can use. If you are mostly sedentary, eating more carbs than you need can soon lead to fat gain. This explains why hard-training endurance athletes need to eat a lot of carbohydrates, but less active people should avoid consuming as much. Counting macros and carbs will help you avoid this trap.

Your body likes to use dietary fat for energy during low-intensity activities. However, because fat is much higher in calories, eating just a little more than you need could lead to weight gain. This helps explain the popularity of the low-fat diet for weight loss. 

That doesn't mean you should automatically adopt a low-fat diet. Your body needs an abundance of fat to function correctly. However, too much fat can make you fat, so tracking your fat intake can be very useful. 

Counting macros – a real-world example

Counting macros will allow you to fine-tune your food intake according to your nutritional and exercise goals. Your activity levels, body composition, and genetics affect how much of each one you need. Adjusting your intake will ensure you have the right fuel mix for your needs.

For example, if you are training to run a marathon, you need more carbs, and your macro ratio should be something like this:  

60% carbohydrate (300 grams/1200 calories)

25% protein (125 grams/500 calories)

15% fat (33.3 grams/300 calories)

In contrast, to lose fat while preserving or increasing muscle mass, your macro ratios should be more like this:

30% carbohydrates (150 grams/600 calories)

45% protein (225 grams/900 calories)

25% fat (55.5 grams/500 calories) 

While both examples add up to 2,000 calories, the macronutrient mixes is very different. A high-carb diet is ideal for people who do a lot of physical activity. However, combined with a mostly sedentary lifestyle, that same macro ratio is a recipe for weight gain. 

On the other hand, a very low-carb diet can be problematic for some exercisers. Your body needs carbs to make glucose, and too little glucose can lead to low energy levels. This would affect both workout intensity and duration. 

Calories are undeniably important, but so too is your macro ratio. What is the right macro ratio for you? Check outWarrior Babe RevolutionorWarrior Babe Blueprintto find out!

Counting macros for fat loss

Whatever your fitness goal, you’ll get there faster by counting macros. But what is the best way to keep your macros on track? 

Turn back the clock a couple of decades, and the only effective way to count macros was to do it manually. You weighed your food, looked it up in a book or on a chart, and then wrote it all down. This process had to be repeated for every item of food on your fat loss diet. To put it mildly, this was a very time-consuming process. 

Fast forward to today, and macro counting is much easier. Powerful apps that run on your phone or tablet make counting macros a breeze. Just type your chosen food into the app, and you'll get an instant macro ratio breakdown. Keeping track of your macros has never been so easy! Some apps even work out your macros from photos of your food. Really, there is no excuse for not counting macros when it’s this easy!

There are lots of macro counting calculator apps available. Some are free, while others require a one-off payment or a monthly or annual subscription. They are available for iOS and Android devices, and some sync with websites so you can also track and update your macros on your laptop or PC. A few apps can be linked to an activity tracker so you can adjust your calorie and macro intake according to your activity levels. 

With so many macro counting apps for weight loss to choose from, it can be hard to know which one is right for you. That’s why we’ve written a guide tothe 15 best macro tracking apps of 2020. Pick any one of these apps, and you'll have no problem keeping track of your macros and calories.

Counting macros might seem like a chore, but, in reality, it only takes a few minutes a day. In return, you’ll save yourself weeks or even months of effort as you’ll reach your fitness and weight loss goals much more quickly. It’s a small investment for a big reward!

Summary 

While the number of calories you eat matters, so too do your macros. Because each macro affects your body differently, your macro intake must match your goals, activity levels, and your individual macro tolerances too. You can still make progress without counting macros but, if you take this extra step, you'll be astounded at how much better your results are.

Yes, macro counting does take a little extra effort, but everyone here at Warrior Babe HQ promises that you'll make faster progress if you do it. Don’t delay – start today!


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