tracking-macrosThe email from you coach with your nutrition program arrives and you are so excited to get started! You open it and…”whoa…that is a lot of information!”.  Feeling a little overwhelmed?  Don’t panic….let’s break down counting macros one step at a time.

The key thing to remember about counting macros is it gets easier. If you haven’t read our post Macro Counting:  What is it? check it out and then come right back.

How to count macros.
Equipment needed: buy on Amazon, Target, or other kitchen supply stores
Food scale
Measuring cups
Measuring spoons

Now that you have to tools you need let’s put them to use.  As part of your program you received numbers (macro goals) from your coach.  They looked a little like this (the actual quantities vary)

Protein: 140g
Carbs: 180g
Fats: 75g
Fiber: 30g

Your goal is to consume food/beverages which at the end of the day meet the macro goals outlined above.

Tip:  When you are just starting out it can be easier to divide your macros evenly throughout your day.  For the example macro numbers above if you are eat 4 meals/day and your goal is 140g of protein per day you should eat approximately 35g of protein per meal, 180g carbs is 45g per meal, and 75g fats is 18.75g per meal.

Let’s look at an example meal. Looking in the refrigerator I find the following foods I am going to eat for lunch.

boneless skinless chicken thighs, baked sweet potatoes w/ghee, and steamed zucchini

I know what my macro goals are per meal (listed above) so I enter these foods into MyFitnessPal to determine how much (usually in weight) to dish up.  I might have to spend a few minutes playing with the quantities of each item before I get the numbers where I want them.  This gets easier as you get more experience counting macros.

mfp-screenshots

Macro totals for this meal.

Protein: 34g
Carbohydrates: 45g
Fat: 19g
Fiber: 3g (Meals will vary greatly in fiber numbers depending on the content. Check out the macro guide in your program guide for a list of high fiber foods).

Tip:  Remember from the program guide that the weight of a food does not equal the number of macros.  For example look at the sweet potatoes above.  200g of sweet potatoes is approximately 40g of carbs.  If you wanted 40g of carbs and only ate 40g of sweet potatoes you would be seriously under eating!

Repeat this process for each of your meals and at the end of the day your numbers will be exactly where you want them!

Foods you eat everyday. There are certain foods you probably eat everyday.  Maybe your morning latte, a square of dark chocolate at night, or your post workout protein shake. Enter these items first thing in the morning so can plan your other meals around these items.  Subtracting the macros in this items from your total numbers will give you the total macros for your remaining meals.

For example, 8oz cold brew coffee, 8oz coconut/almond milk, and 1tsp raw honey 1g protein, 18g carbs, 4g fat…my morning (non-negotiable) latte and .4g protein, 3.6g carbs, 3.6g fat….my evening square of dark chocolate.  I enter these in MyFitnessPal first thing in the morning so I can plan the rest of my meals around them.

Ok, so now you know how to count macros. Awesome!  How accurate do you really have to be?  Depends….how much progress do you really want to see? The majority of people who do not succeed at losing weight while tracking macros don’t track accurately.  Either by failing to log all items or by not weighing and measuring accurately. It is really easy to over or under eat by estimating or getting sloppy when measuring food by volume. The most accurate method is weighing.  Whenever possible, weigh your food!

Are you feeling a little bit more confident about how to track your macros?  Cool!  Now, how do you get good at it? Practice!  Start today….weighing, measuring, logging.  The more you do it the better you will get and the faster you will see results.