how to count macros:
a step-by-step guide
Posted on March 20, 2020 | By Lalo Rumayor
"How many grams of protein should I eat per day?"
“Coach Lalo… what are macros?”, well let’s start there. Macros is just a short word for macronutrients, like we already mentioned in the last article, there are two type of nutrients: macronutrients, and micronutrients. For the sake of this article, we will only focus on macronutrients. There are three main types of macronutrients, but in reality there is a total of five: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are the main ones, but we also have alcohol and water as well. Again, to answer the question “how to count macros” we will only focus on the main three, so without further due, this is how you count macros.
Let’s quickly recall that macronutrients are the nutrients that provide the body with energy, also known as calories. For example purposes, let’s say you are male who is trying to lose body fat and your coach recommended you to be in a 2000 calorie diet. All we need to know is that each gram of each macronutrient contains certain calories, and it goes as follows:
1g of carbohydrates = 4 calories
1g of protein = 4 calories
1g of fat = 9 calories
Let’s say now we would like to follow a sustainable diet where each macro is balanced and the coach tells you he would like you to eat 40% carbohydrates, 35% protein, and 25% fats out of the total amount of food you consume in one day (These percentages are just estimates and may vary from person to person and their personal goals). We were previously told we would be in a 2000 calorie diet, which equal to the total amount of calories we can eat in a day. So how do you know how many grams of each macronutrient you should eat? It is simple, all you have to do is multiply 2000 calories by 40% or 0.40 (2000×0.40=800) to get the total amount of calories needed from carbohydrates, which in this case equals to 800 calories. Now that we know we need to consume 800 calories from carbohydrates, we must switch calories to grams, and to go from calories to grams, we just divide by 4 in this case, because we previously learned that 1 gram of carbohydrates equals to 4 calories (800/4=200), if we do the math we come up with 200 grams. So now we know we need to consume 200g of carbohydrates every day to follow the prescribed diet to us.
We would to the same for the proteins and fats so let’s continue to do it. We were told to consume 35% protein of our daily food intake, so we multiply 2000 calories by 0.35 (2000×0.35=700) which equals to 700 calories. We know each gram of proteins contains 4 calories, so now we divide 700 calories by 4 (700/4=175) and we get 175g of protein, so we should be consuming around 175g of protein every day. Lastly we need to calculate the fat grams, if you want to see if you understood how to do it, pause your reading and do the calculations by yourself and check back to see if you got the same result. Now let’s continue and follow the same steps we did before, let’s multiply 2000 calories by our 25% daily fat intake (2000×0.25=500) to calculate the daily fat calories we are supposed to eat, and we get 500 calories. Then we go from calories to grams, in this case we need to divide by 9 because each gram of fat contains 9 calories (500/9=56g), do not make the mistake and divide by 4 like we did for the other two macronutrients. Here you can also notice that fat is more “calorie dense” than carbs or proteins. Once you do the calculations you will get 56g of fat (always round to whole numbers).
And that is it! In conclusion, we came up that the macros for a man who is looking to lose weight are as follows: 200g carbohydrates, 175g protein, and 56g fat. Just remember that this is a rough estimate and won’t be always be 100% accurate. Do not get too caught up trying to eat the exact macros every day, this is a common mistake that even myself used to do. Just aim to fall within 5% of that daily intake and you should do just fine.
Thanks for tuning in and hopefully this information was helpful for you. If it was, feel free to share this article with someone else who is looking to learn how to calculate their macros!