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How To Track Macros Like You Mean It

In the world of food, there are many ways to evaluate what you eat. There’s MyPlate, which organizes food by type: fruit, vegetables, protein, grains, and dairy. There’s the Whole30 meal planning template. And then there’s learning how to track macros.

How To Track Macros Like You Mean It - Real Plans

In the world of food, there are many ways to evaluate what you eat. There’s MyPlate, which organizes food by type: fruit, vegetables, protein, grains, and dairy. There’s the Whole30 meal planning template, which encourages a solid foundation of high-quality protein with veggies and compliant fat on the side. And then there’s learning how to track macros.

Macros – or macronutrients – are the biggies when it comes to nutrition. They are the carbohydrates, protein, and fat found in food. You can track these based on the calories that each macro provides.

Carbs and protein each have a value of 4 calories per gram whereas fat supplies 9 calories per gram.

Many diets use macros, rather than “plates” or food restrictions, to describe what your daily eats should look like. The beauty of plates, specialty diets, and macro tracking is that clearly – there is no perfect diet. There’s only what works best for you, in this moment of time.

So, let’s celebrate diversity and look at which macro breakdown might get you the results you’re looking for.

How to track macros and reach your health goals

Below you will find a general set of recommendations for macros to fit your unique health goals. Keep in mind that these percentages are suggestions and not fine-tuned to fit your current weight or activity level.

Keto diet

The keto diet is an extremely low carb diet that pushes the body into ketosis, at which point it starts burning fat for fuel. Instead of carbohydrates.

Example macro breakdown:

  • 5% carbohydrate
  • 18% protein
  • 77% fat

Click here for more on macros and the keto diet .

Low-carb diet

If you want to lose fat, you need to create an ongoing “calorie deficit.” You do this by burning more calories than you consume.

A low carb diet won’t push your body into ketosis. But it will help you lose fat and reveal muscle.

Example macro breakdown:

  • 25% carbohydrate
  • 40% protein
  • 35% fat

Click here for more about weight loss and macros.

Bodybuilding

Higher carbs tend to support muscle gains. So when bodybuilding, you want to support your body’s need for extra energy by bulking up on carbs.

Most folks who are interested in simultaneous muscle gains and fat loss do best with carb cycling, which is when you alternate between a muscle-building phase of higher carbs and a fat-burning phase with lower carbs.

Example macro breakdown:

  • 45% carbohydrate
  • 35% protein
  • 20% fat

Click here for more on bodybuilding macros.

Maintenance

High carb ratios build lean muscle and low carb ratios speed up fat loss. To maintain muscle mass and weight, you want to aim for somewhere in between.

Example macro breakdown:

  • 35% carbohydrate
  • 50% protein
  • 15% fat

Click here for more about maintaining muscle mass and weight.

Reverse dieting

For folks with a sluggish metabolism, reverse dieting turns things around and boosts metabolism by increasing calories while reducing cardio.

The macro breakdown changes with time, but start by calculating protein: 1 gram per pound of body weight.

Example macro breakdown:

  • Set your protein target at 1 gram (4 calories) per pound of body weight. For your remaining calories, split them 60/40 between carbs and fat.
  • 60% carbohydrate
  • 40% fat

Click here for the full scoop on reverse dieting.

Mediterranean diet

An emphasis on plant food, olive oil, fish, poultry, and moderate amounts of wine. The Mediterranean diet is one of the most well-researched diets and known for its ability to lower disease risk. It’s also the standard baseline for a healthy diet.

Example macro breakdown:

  • 45% carbohydrate
  • 20% protein
  • 35% fat

Click here for more on Mediterranean diet macros.

DASH diet

The DASH diet (officially known as dietary approaches to stop hypertension) is known for its ability to protect against heart disease. The diet takes an approach that encourages fresh veggies, fruit, herbs, whole grains, pulses, and nuts while limiting red meat, added fat, and foods or drinks with added sugar.

Example macro breakdown:

  • 55% carbohydrate
  • 18% protein
  • 27% fat

Tracking macros according to body type and gender

Beyond calories, your body type and gender can have a significant impact on how to track macros. To give you an idea of what this means, you’ll find a quick description of the three general body types: ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph.

Ectomorph:

  • Slender, small shoulders, and “hardgainers.”
  • Keep carbs between 30 – 60 percent of total calories, depending on whether the goal is gains, maintenance, or fat loss.

Mesomorph:

  • Athletic, muscular, and with broad shoulders.
  • Keep carbs between 20 – 50 percent of total calories, depending on whether the goal is gains, maintenance, or fat loss.

Endomorph

  • Pear shape and wide, stocky build with a slower metabolism.
  • Keep carbs between 10 – 40 percent of total calories, depending on whether the goal is gains, maintenance, or fat loss.

And don’t forget about gender. That matters too.

Overall, women tend to have an edge when it comes to burning fat. They’re also less efficient at burning the glycogen – meaning that compared to men, they may be more likely to thrive on a lower carb diet.

No one size fits all when learning how to track macros

Your ideal macros depend on your health goals. Do you want to lose weight, build muscle, or a little bit of both?

There’s also activity levels, body type, and gender to take into account.

As you dial into what works best for you, know that there will be shifts and adjustments along the way. Your body will change and your needs will change right along with it. It’s all part of the process. Working with a nutritionist or trainer can help clarify your next step.

If you want to simplify counting, keep a tally on your meals, and stay organized, then enlist the help of the Real Plans macro tracker. Simplify and support. It’s what we do.

 

Emily Bartlett

About Emily Bartlett

Emily Bartlett is the co-founder and CEO of RealPlans.com. She's also a licensed acupuncturist and practitioner of Chinese medicine, a published author, a wife, and a mom of two. Emily hopes to make meal planning easier and inspire families to share more meals around the table.

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