Chances are good that someone you know is talking about “macros.” If you are curious about what that means keep reading! We will give a little overview of what macros are, how to calculate your personalized numbers, and some ideas for how to track them.
What are Macros?
“Macros” refers to the three macronutrients that give us energy or calories: carbohydrates, fat, and protein. In addition to providing your body with the calories it needs, these macronutrients each play important roles in your body.
Carbs are broken down in the body and used as energy. Fats are used for tissue growth and hormone production. Proteins are needed for the growth and maintenance of the body as well as the immune system.
Personalize Your Numbers
Everyone has a ratio or percentage of calories coming from each macronutrient group—the goal is to have that percentage in a healthy range. The recommendation for most healthy adults is:
- 45-65% of calories for carbs
- 20-35% of calories for fat
- 10-35% of calories for protein
But what does that really mean? Here are the steps to find out your ranges:
1. Determine how many calories you should be eating in a day.
Your calorie needs are affected by things like height, weight, age, gender, and activity level. A common equation that can be used to determine your calorie needs is the Mifflin-St. Jeor. There are also a lot of reliable websites or apps that can help you make this decision. If you are looking for some guidance, click here to reach out to a Harmons dietitian, our team is happy to help!
2. Determine the percentages of each group.
This step requires a little bit of math. If it feels overwhelming, talk with a dietitian. We are pros at this. Once you have your calorie goal, multiply that number by the percentage of each macronutrient to determine your calorie range for each group. For example, if your goal is 2000 calories your macronutrient ranges should be calculated the following way:
- 2000 (calories) x 0.45 (percent) = 900
- 2000 x 0.65 = 1300
- Calorie range of 900-1300 calories
- 2000 x 0.20 = 400
- 2000 x 0.35 = 700
- Calorie range of 400-700 calories
- 2000 x 0.10 = 200
- 2000 x 0.35 =700
- Calorie range of 200-700 calories
3. Determine how many grams a day you should be eating.
Food labels list the number of carbs, fat, and protein in grams so now you need to determine how many grams you should eat each day. Carbs have 4 calories per gram, fats have 9 calories per gram, and proteins have 4 calories per gram. To determine your grams, simply divide the calories by the calories per gram. For example:
- 900/4 = 225
- 1300/4 = 325
- Gram range of 225-325 grams
- 400/9 = 44
- 700/9 = 77
- Gram range of 44-77 grams
- 200/4 = 50
- 700/4 = 175
- Gram range of 50-175 grams
How to Track Them
There are great apps for tracking macro calories and grams, my personal favorite is MyFitnessPal. If you are tracking with the pen and paper method, use the number of grams listed on the food labels. Add up the number of grams of each macronutrient you eat and ensure you stay in your personalized range.
Determining and tracking your macronutrient ranges can be helpful in supporting your health goals; however, it can also be overwhelming. If this feels like too much for you to tackle, a great starting point is trying to make your plate look like “MyPlate.”
Creating your meals this way will usually have your macronutrients in the appropriate ranges and support a healthy lifestyle. Whether you need some guidance with your macros, are looking to eat healthier, or have food–related questions, the dietitian team at Harmons is happy to help! Email us at email@example.com.