When most people start dieting and exercising, they dive headfirst into tracking every calorie they eat. While keeping track of calories is necessary for losing weight, it doesn’t give you the full picture. Instead of just tracking your calories, you should be paying attention to your macronutrients as well.
What are macronutrients?
Macronutrients include carbohydrates, fat and protein.
Carbohydrates include fibers, starches and sugars. Carbs are broken down into glucose, which is used for immediate energy or gets stored in your liver and muscles as glycogen. When following a regular diet, carbs should make up between 45 and 65 percent of your daily calorie intake.
Fats are the most caloric dense of the three macronutrients, coming in at nine calories per gram. Your body uses fat for energy and other essential functions, like nutrient absorption and body temperature maintenance. Typically, fat should make up approximately 20 to 35 percent of your total daily calories.
Protein is necessary for proper immune function, weight loss, and tissue and hormone building. How much protein you should consume varies depending on your body type and your overall health goals, but generally should account for 10 to 35 percent of your daily calorie intake.
How to track them
To determine your macronutrients, you first need to know how many calories you need in a day. Using an online calculator will help you to know how many calories you’re burning in a day and from there you can determine how many you should be eating.
Once you know how many calories you should be eating, then you need to break down your macronutrients. While there are the basic recommended breakdowns, those on the keto or people with specific fitness goals may want to adjust that number.
The easiest way to track your macros is by using an app or website designed for logging the food you eat. If you’re old-fashioned, you can also keep a hand-written food diary. Keep track of all of the food that you eat in a day and take note of the nutritional makeup of all. Some apps contain a scanner feature which makes it easier to track any packaged food.
The most important part of tracking your macros is understanding that it’s okay not to hit your targets perfectly every day. You can be over or under by a few grams and still maintain your goals.