What are macros? And should you count them?

No matter where you’re at in your weightloss journey, the chances are you’ve heard about macro counting before now.

You’ve probably heard it thrown around at the gym by those looking to shed a few pounds or bulk up, since macro (macronutrient) counting can be the route to hitting your health goals.

Counting calories and tracking the food you consume can support you in achieving specific macronutrient and calorie goals.

But if you’re totally new to macro counting, it’s no surprise that it can feel a little… Confusing.

Don’t worry, we’re going to tell you all about how to count macros and what macros really are.

What are macros?

Macronutrients or ‘macros’ are a group of nutrients found in food, supplying us with energy. These macros are broken down into three forms:

  • Protein
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fat

A healthy balance of all three is crucial for a healthy lifestyle. While cutting out carbs completely may be tempting  – as told to by fad diets – some healthier carbs are needed!

What are macros in food?

Now, let’s take a look at what are macros and how to find them.

1. Protein

We all know that protein is an important part of a healthy diet, right? From your hair to your muscles and even your nails, protein forms the building blocks of all your body’s tissues.

Made up of amino acids, this macronutrient allows us to grow and repair, as well as keeping us feeling fuller for longer. If you find yourself tempted into unhealthy snacking, your diet could be lacking in protein!

So, when you’re counting macros, protein is super important for getting your daily nutrient intake.

2. Fat

It’s not news that fat is bad for you. However, not all fat is the same. This is where many of us go wrong, thinking that all fats are equal.

Of course, too much fat will increase your weight, however, fat is essential as a part of a healthy diet and shouldn’t be avoided like we first think. But before you go chowing down on a burger and fries, it’s important to understand different types of fat and its positive impact.

Also Read: How Can I Tone My Arms Without Gaining Muscle?

Healthy fats can help lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation and is crucial in helping our bodies absorb fat-soluble vitamins (such as A, D, K and E). When we get enough of the right type of fat in our diet, we’re less likely to feel hungry and reach for those pesky snacks.

Filling your diet with fatty meat, butter and full-fat milk won’t help you hit your goals, however…

3. Carbohydrates

Despite what many fad diets lead us to believe, carbs are not the enemy! Much like fat, there are different types of carbs and it’s important we treat them in this way.

So, no, don’t go cutting carbs.

When we exercise, our bodies look to use carbs as their main fuel source, which means if your diet is lacking, you’re more than likely going to feel pretty sluggish.

How could you possibly get through a workout when your tank is running on empty?

Why count macros?

When it comes to macro counting, it’s easy to assume that calories no longer matter. Sadly, this is not the case. Put simply, weight loss happens when you burn more than you consume.

Macro counting allows us to have a greater understanding of where our calories are truly coming from and their impact on our bodies.

If we break it down, one gram of protein equals 4 calories. Therefore, if you consume 125g of protein, you’re getting 500 calories from that protein.

This leaves your remaining daily calorie intake to be split between the other two macros: Fat and carbs.

How to count macros

So, you want to count macros, do ya? While there is no one-size-fits-all amount of macros a person should eat, tracking your calories and macro counting can help you build a healthy relationship with food.

When we understand how to count macros and what a macro even is, we can get to grips with how we consume calories and the right type of foods.

How to count macros can depend on a number of factors, including:

  • Age
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Fitness/activity levels
  • Goals
  • What you like to eat!

But don’t worry, we’re going to take you through everything you need to know about macro counting and how to count macros!

1. Work out your calorie needs

To get started with macro counting, you first need to work out how many calories you need each day. This will greatly depend on your BMR (basal metabolic rate) which is the number of calories our bodies need to function everyday.

Take this number and multiply it by your activity levels, for example:

Little or no exercise – BMR x 1.2

Light exercise 1-3 days a week – BMR x 1.375

Moderate exercise 3-5 days a week – BMR x 1.55

Very active 6-7 days a week – BMR x 1.725

EXTRA active (hard exercise + physical work) – BMR x 1.9

The end result gives you your TDEE – your total daily energy expenditure.

2. Determine your macronutrient breakdown

After working out how many calories you need to consume each day, next you need to determine what macronutrient ratio works best. This can vary from one person to another, so if you and a friend have different ratios, don’t worry!

Also Read: Get a FREE 15 Day Diet Plan

Typically, when you’re macro counting it will be broken down into the following:

  • Carbs: 45–65% of total calories
  • Fats: 20–35% of total calories
  • Proteins: 10–35% of total calories

However, in order to achieve your personal goals and meet your specific needs, these can be tailored accordingly. For example, if you’re looking to shed extra weight and better control your blood sugar, you may opt for:

  • 35% carbs
  • 30% fat
  • 35% protein

3. Macro counting: Tracking macros and calories

Now, when we talk about “how to count macros” we’re pretty much covering ways in which to track what you eat.

Thankfully, there are plenty of apps around that can make macro counting a lot easier – such as MyFitnessPal. Some women prefer to use a website online or simply jot down their foods in a journal.

Using an app is a convenient way to determine what is a macro and keep track of your intake. Many utilise a barcode scanner, making macro counting a lot easier than jotting the details down manually!

After all, we’re trying to work smarter, not harder!

Macro counting: Example

Let’s say you’re aiming to consume 2,000 calories daily, broken down into:

  • 40% carbs
  • 30% fat
  • 30% protein

Now let’s take a look at how calories and macro counting come together.


  • Per gram: 4 calories
  • 30% of your daily intake of 2,000 = 600 calories of protein
  • Total grams of protein allowed per day = 600/4 = 150 grams


  • Per gram: 9 calories
  • 30% of your daily intake of 2,000 = 600 calories of fat per day
  • Total grams of fat allowed per day = 600/9 = 67 grams


  • Per gram: 4 calories
  • 40% of your daily intake of 2,000 = 800 calories of carbs per day
  • Total grams of carbs allowed per day = 800/4 = 200 grams

Macro counting: What are the benefits?

There are several benefits to macro counting, so let’s take a closer look.

Food quality > Calorie content

When we pay closer attention to the types of food we consume, we start to build a healthier relationship with food.

Understanding macros and calorie content can lead you to choose healthier foods that are rich in important nutrients – over sugary, processed foods that leave us feeling hungry.

Also Read: How to suppress your appetite naturally

However, there is still an opportunity for unhealthy foods to find their way into your macro counting, since they may still fit within your macros and calories.

May aid weight loss

Macro counting can support your weight loss goals, since it sets out specific dietary recommendations.

When we pay attention to what we eat and consider the calorie and macro content, we can naturally lose weight through making healthier food choices.

If you’re following a low carb, high protein diet, counting macros can help you stay on track to hit your weight loss goals.

Help you achieve your goals

While macro counting is popular for those focusing on weight loss, it is also widely used amongst athletes with specific health goals.

If you’re looking to bulk up, for example, you may have a higher intake of protein compared to someone who is looking to lose body fat.

Studies have shown that resistance-trained athletes require as much as 1.4grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day to maintain muscle mass – making macro counting a go-to for those looking to get hench!

How to count macros, for you

It’s important to meet your individual needs when macro counting. In some cases, you may need to add or reduce foods rich in the three macros:

  • Carbs
  • Fat
  • Protein

For example, when you choose to transition to a macro range of 40% carbs, 25% protein and 35% fat, you’ll need to seek ways to replace some carbs with healthy fats and protein.

To help you further with your macro counting, we’ve put together some healthy food examples within each macro group. However, it’s important to note that some foods may cross over, and can fulfil different macro needs.


  • Meats
  • Fish
  • Tofu
  • Yogurt and milk
  • Protein powders
  • Egg whites
  • Poultry


  • Grains, such as oats, quinoa and brown rice
  • Wholegrain bread
  • Wholewheat pasta
  • Yogurt and milk
  • Lentils, peas and beans
  • Fruits, such as berries, pineapple, apples and bananas
  • Starchy veg, such as sweet potatoes, winter squash and potatoes


  • Butter
  • Full fat cheese
  • Avocado
  • Nut butters and nuts
  • Olive and avocado oils
  • Egg yolks
  • Chia seeds and flaxseeds
  • Salmon and sardines
  • Coconut flakes and oil

Macro counting: Is it for everyone?

If you love to see figures written down and track your exercise, calories and everything inbetween, you may thrive from macro counting.

However, this type of structure isn’t for everyone. Much like calorie counting, macro counting can make you more aware of the type of foods you’re eating and their quality.

Although, macro counting isn’t for everyone!

Since macro counting puts such a heavy focus on tracking and logging your food intake, those with a history of eating disorders should steer clear of macro counting, according to studies.

Even though macro counting can feel pretty strict, it is possible to eat poorly, since many foods are allowed as long as they fit within macronutrient ranges.

Fed up of macro counting?

If you’re still scratching your head thinking, ‘what are macros?’ you’re not alone! Many of us feel confused when it comes to food, and macro counting can make eating healthily feel even more stressful!

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