Article at a Glance
- What is a macros diet?
- What are some of the famous macro diets out there and how do they differ?
- What are ideal macro ratios for weight loss, building muscle or maintaining weight?
- Why is a macros diet a healthy alternative to other diet plans?
What are macros?
Macros is basically shorthand for macronutrients, a term used to describe the three key food groups we all require for our bodies to function: carbohydrates (to fuel energy), fats (to keep you satiated) and proteins (to build and repair muscle).
Get the right balance of these and you’ll not only lose weight, but you’ll also be more effective at burning fat and building lean muscle. It’s the way many in the fitness industry have been secretly eating for years, recognizing that all calories were not created equal (10 calories of fat will be used entirely differently than say 10 calories from carbohydrates).
Is Counting Calories the Same Thing as Counting Macros?
Counting calories is not the same as tracking your macronutrients. The calories in, calories out approach (CICO) alone won’t tell you the balance of fat, carbohydrates, and protein in the foods you eat.
Macros zero in on the composition of your daily calories so you can alter each one for the most healthful impact. For example, you may unknowingly get 70% of your calories from carbs on CICO, which will make you feel much different than if that 70% came from healthy fats. With tracking, you can understand the source of the imbalance and adjust accordingly.
People who count calories alone may not see meaningful results in their diet. If you want to track what you eat, counting macronutrients is a much more productive approach to achieving your health goals. Plus, when you focus on the quality of your macros, you can increase your fat-burning potential while naturally regulating how many calories you consume.
Counting macros for weight loss
Take carbohydrates: they’re not always the enemy that Atkins or Keto diet would have you believe; if you’re exercising regularly, they’re essential for energy. But with a more sedentary lifestyle, they can become problematic.
At rest, the body prefers to utilise fat for fuel, but switches to carbohydrates during high-intensity exercise, so rest days are better fuelled with a higher fat and protein to carb ratio, while on active days, more carbohydrates and protein is preferable (because excess fat will just be stored for later).
Still with us? To figure out your macro ratio, you need to work out your basal metabolic rate (BMR) – the rate at which your body uses energy to stay alive. Then take into consideration your activity level. The calculation will then give you a daily calorie target, which you can split into the three macronutrients (protein, carbs, fat).