Sunday, February 15, 2015

Simple Dieting Math: The Easiest Way to Calculate Calories & Macros (Without Losing Your Mind)

Counting calories seems to be the buzz these days when it comes to staying fit. However, the talk of "counting your macros" is starting to change the way some people view their food. Sometimes it isn't all about just your calories, but where your calories are coming from and how it suits your fitness goals.

So, how exactly do you do it and what is it all about? Let's get started with the simple basics.


What are "macros?"
By definition, "a macronutrient is any of the nutritional components of the diet that are required in relatively large amounts: protein, carbohydrate, fat, and minerals such as calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, and phosphorous."

Why count macros?
Counting macros does wonders for the body. While everyone is so obsessed over the idea of counting calories, knowing how much of each macronutrient that you are getting can drastically improve your fitness progress.

For example, if you aren't getting enough protein, your muscles will start breaking down (catabolism) to use for energy later. Not getting enough carbohydrates can make you feel terrible and weak. Carbs are the fuel for your workouts! Lastly, not getting enough fat into your diet can wreak havoc on your hormonal system and make it more difficult for you to put on muscle since fats increase your growth hormones. Also, it may bring a halt to your weight loss.

When keeping up with your macros, it it important to know and get familiar with the three macronutrients themselves:
  1. Proteins: Also known as "the building blocks of muscle," protein is a large molecule in our foods that is broken down into amino acids.
  2. Fats: Fats are a source of energy in foods. Fats belong to a group of substances called lipids, and come in liquid or solid form. All fats are combinations of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids.
  3. Carbohydrates: Carbs are any of a large group of organic compounds occurring in foods and living tissues and including sugars, starch, and cellulose. They are used to be broken down to release energy in the body.

So, how many calories does each macronutrient have?
  • Proteins = 4 calories
  • Fats = 9 calories
  • Carbohydrates = 4 calories
Ok, so how do I calculate my calories based off of my macros?
Let's take a look at the sample nutrition label below.


At the bottom of each nutrition label, you usually see the 3 macronutrients along with the calories that they each yield (in case you forget) and this is super helpful.
  • Protein: 5 x 4 = 20
  • Fats: 13 x 9 = 117
  • Carbohydrates: 31 x 4= 124
Caloric total: 20 + 124 + 117 = 261 calories. (it’s a little different than listed number, don’t worry, this happens from time to time)

Should I count macros over calories?
Well, it all depends on what your fitness goals are, to be honest. If you want to "lose weight," than calorie counting would be your way to go.

 {Image via Fit Men Cook}

However, if you would actually like to improve the quality of your body, get stronger, and build lean muscle, than macro counting is your best bet. You have got to make sure that you are getting enough of each macronutrient.
Remember at the top of this article-if you do not get enough protein, it will be diffcult to build new muscle or what little muscle you may have could begin to waste away. Not eating enough carbs can hinder your training, making it difficult to get a good workout in. And with fats, it could disrupt your hormonal flow, affecting your growth hormones and testosterone-which will negatively impact everything else. See how these macros all work together in perfect harmony?

Once I stopped counting calories and began counting macros, I went from skinny fat to strong & muscular. See the differences below:


End of story:Do your best to determine what amount of macros suit your body and needs the best!

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