Do you painstakingly count calories in an effort to shed excess weight? What if there were a better way? It turns out, there is: tracking your macronutrients. Instead of thinking in terms of restriction by limiting your calorie intake, focusing on macros for weight loss allows you to think in terms of nutrition by giving your body what it needs to be healthy. This change in perspective might make losing weight a more enjoyable journey. If this sounds like an interesting concept, continue reading.
What are macronutrients?
Macronutrients refer to the three primary ways we categorize nutrition: proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Most foods contain a combination of two macros or even all three. Take almond butter, for example: it’s a source of both healthy fat and healthy protein. As such, it’s a healthy food to include in your weight-loss dietary regimen.
Each of the three macronutrients is essential for health and weight loss, and each helps the body function in different ways. As a study published in Current Sports Medicine Reports shows, each macronutrient is essential for health, and certain ratios of each need be adhered to.
By contrast, micronutrients refer to vitamins and minerals. While both macronutrients and micronutrients are essential to maintain optimal health, it’s safe to say that we need more macronutrients in our diet than we do micronutrients. You could get your RDA of micronutrients from a high-quality daily vitamin. But, you need to consume macronutrients in the form of whole foods to stay healthy and lose weight.
How to track and calculate macros for weight loss
Some people like to keep track of their macros by counting grams. Others like to do it in terms of ratio. If you’re keeping track of ratios, you might make sure your daily meals contain 45% carbohydrates, 25% healthy fats, and 30% protein. If you’re focusing on grams, you might say, I need to eat x grams of protein today, x grams of carbs today, and x grams of fat today to hit my macro goal.
There are a multitude of apps that can help you set your macros goals and track what you eat, so you can make sure you’re hitting your targets.
Each macronutrient impacts the body differently
One of the primary benefits of tracking and calculating macros for weight loss has to do with satiety. Each of the three macronutrients impacts your body in different ways. Protein, for instance, decreases cravings and make you feel full. Many people like to eat a breakfast that’s high in protein, claiming this makes them feel adequately full until lunchtime, with no desire to snack in between the two meals. Eating to feel full and curb cravings is one way to leverage macros to work for you in terms of weight loss.
Protein has also been shown to support the metabolism and help burn calories. By setting a protein goal and keeping track of it, you can help your body burn calories more effectively than it would if you simply ate whatever you feel like. Tracking your protein grams can also help you make sure that you don’t eat too much.
Like protein, the beneficial fats in nuts, seeds, oily fish, avocados, olives, and olive oil help satisfy snacking desires by making you feel fuller for a longer period of time. Nuts, seeds, and fish are sources of both protein and beneficial fats. You can kill two birds with one stone with these nutrient-dense foods!
Using macros for weight loss alleviates unhealthy eating habits
Counting macros is far more efficient for maintaining wellness and losing weight when you compare it to counting calories. If you’re focused solely on counting calories, you don’t have to pay attention to the quality of foods you eat. You might look at a box of crackers and see that there’s only 150 calories in a serving. But crackers, and other refined and processed carbohydrates, are truly weight-loss saboteurs.
While they aren’t necessarily loaded with calories, processed foods are loaded with sugars, hydrogenated oils, and additives. These ingredients provide the body with very little nutrition. They don’t fuel you with energy, and they don’t fill you up. In fact, they make you crave more of what you just ate. You can see how focusing on calorie counting, rather than nutrition, is a surefire way to stay stagnant, never reaching your weight-loss goals or ideal fitness level. You’re also going to feel tired, and maybe even depressed, when the bulk of your diet is processed foods.
Choosing high-quality sources of macronutrients, on the other hand, can be empowering. Once you understand how each macronutrient impacts you, you can take the proper steps to eat exactly what’s best for you. This will raise the bar for the foods you eat. You’ll begin choosing truly healthy ones that make you feel full and energized. What’s more, the diet is flexible. It’s not overly strict. Counting macros for weight loss allows you to include so many different foods, you’ll never grow bored. This richness of choices leads to great psychological well-being when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off.
How do I follow a macro diet?
Using macros for weight loss is fairly simple. But, you’ll need a few tools to begin. A body weight planner will tell you how many calories you need to eat in a given day for your unique body. Once you know how many calories you need, you’ll then figure out the ratio and amount of each macronutrient you should eat at each meal. This process is done best with a nutritionist or other health professional with the necessary knowledge. You can also take a DNA test that will tell you if you’re genetically suited to a diet that’s lower in carbs, or lower in fat.
After you’ve calculated your target numbers for each macro, you’ll need a food journal or an app in which to keep track of everything you eat.
Because most of the foods you’ll be eating are whole foods that naturally found in nature, you’ll likely need to do some searching online to figure out exactly how much of each macronutrient is in the particular food. Some of the best apps already have the nutrition information for each food, and you can save the foods you eat often into your favorites to save time.
When choosing foods, always keep in mind that not all proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are nutritionally equal. When in doubt, choose nutrient-dense foods, foods with omega-3 fatty acids, and foods with little or no preservatives, artificial sweeteners, or other additives. Making dietary changes can be challenging, so take it easy on yourself and have patience. It’s a process that may take time but will be well worth it in the end. Your food choices over the long run will no doubt be better for it!
At Elite Physique, we believe an equal balance of nutrition, activity, rest, and confidence is the foundation for achieving a healthier you. Our personalized weight-loss programs are custom-tailored to help you meet your goals and to address the underlying factors that can make weight-loss difficult. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation!