Macronutrients are the three main elements our body needs to survive. These are carbohydrates, fats and protein. Now, you might have also heard of Micronutrients. These are things like sodium, fibre, iron etc, that are also necessary for us to thrive.
You might have also heard of Counting your Macros, Flexible Dieting, IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros), or the like. This is a form of eating that ensures you’re getting the right amounts of those three components. It’s basically a level up from Calorie Counting. If you’ve tried calorie counting, you understand the basic maths behind energy in vs energy out. And apps like My Fitness Pal will work out (based on your calories and goals) a percentage of macros you could be having, to give you some awareness of where your calories are being spent.
I counted my macros for about 6 months in 2015-2016. It was eye-opening. I did a proper calculation based on my activity levels, age, weight, what kind of training I was doing and set myself a pretty reasonable target. Protein was my main focus and often that number is what you usually work out first when calculating your macros.
If you’d like a really good video to show you how to work out your own macros, check this one out : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8SCp6fha1A. Although you’re probably only interested in the first 10 minutes because the rest of the video is a vlog.
Or if you’d like to trust an online calculator: https://healthyeater.com/flexible-dieting-calculator
Quick tip: If you get the Premium version of My Fitness Pal, you can put in your macro goals in grams, rather than just a percentage.
My experience with counting my macros was actually pretty great. I became much more aware of where my calories were going and how that affected my body, how I felt, how my brain functioned, my post-workout recovery and also my body goals.
Through the process, I discovered that I don’t eat enough protein. I struggled to hit my protein numbers each day. And it made me much more aware of food labels and how to read the macros and micros, rather than the calories or kilojoules. And what impacts the calories/kilojoules. For example, fat has more calories per gram than carbs and protein. It also made me very wary of things that had very low calories and that generally prompted me to look at the ingredients list. This actually inspired me to eat cleaner, whole foods because I knew exactly what was in them.
This was a much more beneficial way of eating for me, because I felt in control, and I could adjust the macro amounts based on my goals. Fair warning though, it might feel just a little bit restrictive (like calorie counting), if focusing on the numbers hasn't been your friend in the past. We don't want to disintegrate your relationship with food, your body or exercise at all. But if you want to give it a go, set a realistic target and gradually work yourself up to your goal. Remember, you’re always able to up-level as your confidence grows.
If you want to read more about my experience with calorie counting, see this post.
Let me know below if you’ve ever considered eating "to your macros".