Over the past few years, counting macros—a shorthand for macronutrients—has grown in popularity as a weight-loss or muscle-building diet strategy. These techniques are being used by both competitive athletes and non-athletes, and the hashtag "if that fits within your macros" is a popular one on social media. While there are advantages to macro tracking, it is possible to overlook nourishment by only concentrating on macros. We analyze the benefits and drawbacks of macro counting in this blog.
What Does The Term Macro Counting Mean?
The practice of eating a specific quantity of our macronutrients—carbohydrates, protein, and fat—has become known as macro counting. The theory behind this is that eating the correct amount of each macronutrient will support your needs and enable you to achieve particular objectives like changes in body composition, weight gain, or weight loss.
You are counting your total calories using this method since each gram of protein, fat, and carbohydrate has a certain number of calories associated with it. If weight loss is the goal, macros will be set to be in a calorie deficit; if weight gain, they will be in a surplus. The difference in the distribution of macronutrients may vary depending on your objectives and preferred foods.
What Benefits Does Macro Counting Offer?
Intake Of Macronutrients In Balance
Your body will get enough of each macronutrient to support vital biological activities if you have a defined amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fat to eat. Some people often consume an excessive amount of one macronutrient while not getting enough of another. If you tend to eat more of one macronutrient than the others, macro counting can help you consume the suggested balance of all three.
Awareness Of Portion Size
You'll be more aware of what your recommended portion size looks like if you measure out your meals. For instance, you can have a tendency to consume 1 cup of trail mix when the proper serving size is half cup. It does take some work to accomplish this, but it helps you become more aware of how much food you eat.
Can Support Alterations In Body Composition
Studies have shown that specific macronutrient ratios to body weight support changes in body composition, including weight gain or loss. By basing your macros on these suggestions, you might be able to achieve your objectives. When your macronutrient intake is positioned within parameters that result in a calorie deficit, weight loss also happens. In this instance, though, you are tracking your total daily grams of carbs, protein, and fat rather than calories. Working with a trained dietitian to set your macros based on your unique needs and goals is recommended.
Enables You To Be Flexible With Your Diet
The "if that fits within your macros" principle essentially states that all of your food choices must fit inside your macronutrient budget. In other words, as long as your entire daily gram need is met by the end of the day, it doesn't matter where those grams of protein, fat, or carbohydrates come from. This is advantageous since it gives you freedom over the kinds and quantities of food you eat at any given time. Next, we'll talk about any potential drawbacks to this.
What Drawbacks Exist With Macro Counting?
Doesn't Take Food Quality Into Account
As previously indicated, you are free to eat anything you want as long as it fits inside your macronutrient range. As a result, you might eat foods that are of poorer quality, excessively processed, or that contain empty calories. These foods won't make you feel satisfied and full. Food selections shouldn't be only based on their macronutrient content because poor-quality foods might have a long-term detrimental effect on your health.
Not Taking Into Account Micronutrients
While macro counting allows you to eat anything, you can miss out on important vitamins and minerals (micronutrients). In contrast to foods high in good fats like avocados or almonds, which offer nutrients like Omega-3s, fibre, and potassium, the majority of your fat grammes may come from animal sources like cheese and meats (saturated fats). If you only track your macros, you could not be getting enough of several vital vitamins and minerals.
Can Establish Overly Tight Habits
The constant recording and measuring could breed some overly rigid behaviours and possibly encourage disordered eating. If you're concerned about how you're going to measure your food or know the macronutrient breakdown of a meal, you might not feel comfortable eating out or with friends. This "healthy style of eating" is no longer healthy if it causes you to be mentally preoccupied with food choices to the point where it has a negative effect on your mental health, social life, and relationships. If you don't achieve your macro goals for the day, you could also feel terrible and impose further limits. You will feel the effects of this unneeded guilt from your eating choices more psychologically than physically.
Food Diversity Could Be Diminished
While technically all foods are acceptable when calculating macros, people who do so frequently tend to develop eating patterns that involve the same foods. This is due to the fact that when you limit your consumption to the same few foods, it is simpler to track. To save time on weighing out the grammes in your meals, you might achieve this by consuming a smaller variety of foods. Vitamins and minerals are also less varied when there is less variation in the cuisine.
Should I Be Keeping A Macro Count?
For some people, counting macros provides structure in the form of recommended serving sizes for each macronutrient. When attempting to comprehend portion sizes and the composition of foods, it might be a useful strategy. However, effective nutrition must go well beyond the allocation of macronutrients and must include incorporate nourishment. Even if you are consistently hitting your macros, health does not follow.
It is crucial to consider the bigger picture rather than just macros for overall physical and mental well-being. Finding a balance that emphasises healthy eating routines while allowing you to consume things you enjoy. Working with a dietician who can direct you on your dietary journey is the best option.
- Cleveland Clinic: "Fat: What You Need to Know."
- SLC Health: "How Much Protein Is Simply Too Much?"
- The Nutrition Source: "Carbohydrates," "Protein."
- University of Michigan Michigan Medicine: "Minerals: Their Functions and Sources."
- The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center: "What are macronutrients?"
- Washington State University: "NUTRITION BASICS."