The Guide on How To Track Your Macros
Counting your macros (macronutrients) is going to be a pain in the ass for the first couple weeks.
I’m not going to lie to you.
But, like anything else just stick to it for a couple weeks and it’ll be habitual.
This is going to be an in-depth guide on how to track your macros.
Tracking everything you eat and drink is arguably the most important component for losing fat or building muscle (OR BOTH!)
I plateau’d for a couple years. Didn’t see any gains with strength or my physique. Once I started tracking my macros, my gains went through the roof. I have now consistently gotten stronger along while losing all of my fat that was hiding my muscle.
This guide I’m making for y’all is going to explain:
- what macros are and why it’s so damn important
- how to count your macros
- Myfitnesspal to track your macros
- last but not least, a demonstration video on how I track macros.
I can’t emphasize how important tracking your macros really is. Doing so, along with intermittent fasting and flexible dieting, is hands down the best way to get crazy gains and stick to your diet and workout regimens.
Do you know why?
Because you can eat the foods that you want (not saying you can eat massive quantities of Mcdonald’s) as long as you stay within your caloric goal for the day.
From experience, the hardest part to sticking to a diet are the damn cravings that you get.
The bad part about super strict diets like low carb diets is that you are literally depriving your body of foods that it wants.
By tracking your macros you’ll be able to eat foods that are considered bad for you to a certain extent.
This doesn’t give you a free pass to eat pizza and drink beer every day.
But, it just gets easier to get the body composition that you are striving for the longer you track your macros.
Honestly, it took me about a month to really get the hang of tracking my macros and actually start seeing massive ass results.
So lets get down to it…
What the hell is this “Macro” thing you speak of?
A “macro” is short for “macronutrient”, which is defined as:
“A macronutrient is any of the nutritional components of the diet that are required in relatively large amounts:
and minerals such as calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.”
You’re main focus while counting macros is the amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fat you consume on a daily basis.
You should also make sure you are getting enough fiber (around 40g for the majority of people) just so your body can process all the food you’re eating better.
Why do you need protein?
Protein is the basis to build muscle and/or prevent from losing muscle if you’re in a caloric deficit.
It helps you stay satiated (stay full) and keeps hunger away decently better than fats or carbs by causing you to feel full longer.
Whether you are trying to lose fat or build muscle (or both) it is very important to keep your protein levels high.
What foods are good sources of protein?
Meats such as chicken, beef, turkey are GREAT sources of protein.
Fish is also a very good source of protein. I like to eat tilapia because it is very low in fat and carbohydrates while high in protein. Salmon is also a good source however it is on the pricier side.
Eggs are a staple protein food. I like to eat 1 or 2 eggs with the yolk alongside 5 or 6 egg whites in order to keep my fat somewhat low while still hitting my protein intake for the day.
Protein shakes are obviously a good source of protein. BUT, it is recommended to use protein shakes and protein bars as a last resort in my opinion.
It is much better to get your protein in through whole foods such as meats, eggs, dairy, and fish rather than drinking protein shakes all day.
Dairy is also a good source of protein such as milk, yogurt, and cheeses.
In my case (and several of my clients), I cannot process dairy. I have done research and the majority of people eventually lose the ability to process dairy as they age. We lose the enzyme to digest lactose.
It’s really important to determine if you can process dairy before incorporating it into your diet.
I used to drink whey protein shakes not knowing I couldn’t process dairy and it was messing up my gains in the gym and just my overall well being.
Some ways to find out if you have become lactose intolerant is if you become bloated after eating/drinking dairy, become gassy, have loose bowels, and/or start breaking out in acne.
Why do you need fat?
Fat is a very important nutrient that are bodies NEED in order to live.
Diets that neglect fat can seriously mess up your hormone regulation along with brain function.
It’s important to eat healthy fats in order to keep your testosterone levels high, have healthy brain function, and to help absorb vitamins correctly.
If you have been following a diet with extremely LOW fat, you will experience very sleepless nights, irritability, loss of focus on tasks, and a bunch of other very crappy side effects.
What foods are good sources of fat?
Meats such as steak are great to hit your fat content for the day.
Fatty fish such as salmon contain healthy fats.
Nuts, nut butters, and oils such as olive oil and coconut oil are all very good sources of fat that will help you maintain a better sense of well being and will help you regulate your hormones.
Why do you need carbs?
Carbs are stored in the body’s blood, brain, muscles, and liver as something called glycogen.
Our bodies NEED carbohydrates for energy.
Just like fats and proteins, carbohydrates are just as important when you are trying to lose fat and build muscle.
Your body needs carbohydrates for energy ESPECIALLY when you are exercising and have low body fat percentage.
There is something called insulin sensitivity which determines how well your body processes carbohydrates.
The more insulin sensitive you are, the better your body will process carbs.
A good rule of thumb is that the lower your body fat percentage, the more insulin sensitive you are.
Some people just cannot tolerate carbs as well as others.
A simple but effective test to see how your body reacts to carbohydrates is to eat a high carbohydrate meal after a workout and assess your mood, energy levels, and whether or not you are bloated.
After consuming the post workout high carb meal, if you feel good, you have high energy levels, feel refreshed, and are not bloated, then you are insulin sensitive meaning your body responds very well to carbohydrates.
On the other hand, if you eat the high carb meal and feel miserable, bloated, and sleepy, you are obviously insulin INsensitive or insulin RESISTANT.
This is a very important test to perform on yourself before committing to a diet. While it is not the most accurate, it is generally a good way to assess how your body reacts to carbohydrates.
The way I view it is, the higher your body fat % (20% and up), the more insulin RESISTANT you will be.
Once you get to around 10% body fat, your body is going to really need carbs and this is when you will become more insulin SENSITIVE.
A good way to sum it up is,
you need to deserve your carbohydrates.
What I mean by that is if you have a higher body fat % (around 17% and higher), you can settle for a lower carbohydrate intake daily and you can still maintain decent energy levels.
As stated before, when you get to lower body fat percentages such as 10% (you will know when your 10% when you can see your abs and they are decently defined), you can really increase your carbohydrate intake daily.
In my case, since I am around 9% body fat, I have to eat up to around 40-45% of my calories in carbohydrates.
When I was 18% body fat, I ate much less carbohydrates than I do now because I was getting my glycogen (energy) through my body fat.
What foods are good sources of carbohydrates?
Good carbs are obtained through fruits, vegetables, rice, potatoes, and grains.
You can also get your carbs through sugars like candy and other processed foods and drinks.
But like I said before, you need to earn your carbohydrates so if you are someone with a higher body fat %, I would stick to the healthier carbs like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains as it will keep you fuller for longer.
Those who are already a low body fat %, feel free to hit your carb intake through basically whatever you want since your body really needs carbs.
So How Do I Count My Macros?
Counting your macros is actually very simple.
Many people like to over complicate this aspect of fitness when they first start but,
learning how to track your macros is one of the most important pieces to the puzzle.
Lets get down to it…
Each one of the the 3 macronutrients contain a certain number of calories.
- 1 gram of protein = 4 calories
- 1 gram of fat = 9 calories
- 1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories
A quick example is this Kashi GoLean nutrition label.
- Fat = 2 grams * 9 = 18
- Carbohydrates = 27 grams * 4 = 108 (subtracted fiber)
- Protein = 12 grams * 4 = 48
18 + 48 + 108 = 174 calories which you can round to 180 displayed above.
It’s that simple.
Don’t forget to take a look at the serving size and servings per container when you are tracking your macros.
It is a very common mistake to not look at how many servings per container in a certain food or drink.
For example, many soft drinks will contain 2 – 2.5 servings per container so if you drink a whole bottle of Pepsi make sure you are tracking it properly.
Should I Be Tracking My Calories or My Macros?
There’s really no point in tracking specifically just the calories you are eating.
I dive into how much protein, fats, and carbs you should be eating depending on your goal in my flexible dieting (If it Fits Your Macros) guide.
Am I suppose to track my sodium, sugars, cholesterol, fiber and everything else that IS NOT protein, fats, and carbs?
Unless you are competing in a bodybuilding competition, it’s generally not really important to track anything else besides protein, fat, and carbs if you are trying to build muscle, gain strength, and lose fat.
That being said, if you have a medical condition in which you have to carefully track your sodium intake or sugar (for instance if you have high blood pressure) then obviously you should be careful.
One other thing worth noting is your fiber intake.
Aside from protein, fat, and carbs,
Fiber is the only other thing you should really track and it’s not even THAT important.
A general rule is to eat around 14 grams of fiber per 1000 calories you eat.
Fiber will help your body digest everything better and will help you absorb nutrients.
I personally don’t even track my fiber intake, just make sure to have a decent amount of fibrous veggies/fruits in your diet.
What Should I Use to Record My Macros Daily?
Hands down it is the best app to keep a log of what you ate for the day
Myfitnesspal has the largest database of foods and drinks you can search for.
For the sake of not having too long of a blog post I will dive into how to configure Myfitnesspal in a separate article.
But for now, all you need to know is to change your fats, proteins, and carbohydrate goals depending on if you want to gain or lose weight.
In order to do this
- open MyFitnessPal
- click the More tab
- press Goals
- then Calorie & Macronutrient Goals
- adjust it accordingly
Again, I dive into what your carb, fat, protein, and calorie split is supposed to be in my flexible dieting guide
All you really need to know for now in order to track your macros with Myfitnesspal is:
- search for a food
- weigh your food (4oz. of tilapia in this case)
- then add it to your Myfitnesspal diary for the day.
Myfitnesspal has MOST of the foods you will be eating. It’s one of the only apps I use to track my macros. If you do not have a smartphone you can visit their website and its the same thing.
If you can’t find a certain food on Myfitnesspal, you can use the following websites:
Demonstration Video on How To Track Your Macros:
Some Key Takeaways:
If you were too lazy to read through the post, counting macros could be summed up pretty quickly.
Step 1: Buy a scale
Step 2: Download Myfitnesspal
Step 3: Visit my Flexible Dieting guide to determine how much proteins, fats, and carbohydrates you should be having daily.
Step 4: Weigh and Record everything you eat every day.
Step 5: Do this consistently for 2-3 weeks.
Step 6: Assess your energy levels and your weight gain/loss and change your macro ratio accordingly.
Step 7: Share this with your friends 🙂