Counting Macros: A Test Drive

I’ve been frustrated with my inability to shed body fat.  I’ve tried eating cleaner, but no luck. From time to time I’ve come across “counting your macros” on a number of posts by various bodybuilding and physique sites and pros.  I’ve always thought…well that’s for those people.  I’m not in a fitness competition.

But then it hit me…maybe they’re on to something…

I’ve decided to give it a shot.  I did a lot of research and the truth is I cannot find a clear cut “counting macros for dummies” so I’m going to share my take on it.

Starting on Dec. 22, 2013 Dec. 27, 2013 (who was I kidding with Christmas…), I will count my macros using a paleo lite diet to keep my eating clean.  I figured it can’t hurt and we will see in a few short weeks if it pays off.

So what is counting macros all about?

Meet the digital food scale. Your friend.
Meet the digital food scale. Your friend.

It’s a shift more or less from a calorie focus to a macro nutrient intake focus – protein, carbohydrates and fat.  Depending on your goal, you should be eating a certain ratio of the three to gain size, lose fat or maintain what you’ve worked hard to earn.

All you need is some basic math skills, a digital food scale and a handy website/app called MyFitnessPal. Here’s how it works using me as the example:

First, some basic math calculations.  I weighed 161 pounds on Dec. 22, 2013.  My ideal weight is 145 pounds (yes, I really can afford to lose it via belly fat).

Using your desired or target weight compute the following:

  • 1 gram of protein per desired weight (145 x 1 = 145 grams)
  • 0.5 grams of fat per desired weight (145 x 0.5 = 73 grams)
  • 1 gram of carbohydrates per desired weight to lose (145 x 1 = 145 grams).  If you want to gain, then multiply by 3 grams.  To maintain multiply by 2 grams.

Do the following math equations as well:

  • 1 gram of protein = 4 calories (580 calories for me)
  • 1 gram of fat = 9 calories (657 calories for me)
  • 1 gram of carbohydrates = 4 calories (580 calories for me)

I need to take in 145 grams of protein, 145 grams of carbohydrates and 73 grams of fat each day which totals 1,817 calories a day.  Jot down that calorie number.

Next step:

Create an account under (the website and app are free!).  Once you set up the account go under the goal tab on the web page version and select the customize option.  In that customized goal area enter your total calories. For me it’s 1,817. Then use the ratio calculator to adjust your macros to 40% protein, 40% carbohydrates and 20% fat.  This is your guide to track and monitor food so you can lose fat, but also build a little muscle too!

Now the tricky, but eye opening part. You need to measure and record your food.  No guessing. I bought a decent digital food scale at Target for $25.  It’s rather shocking when you realize how your eyeballed portion sizes are off.  Use information from nutrition labels, or the wide database provided in MyFitnessPal.

Me 12/22/13  at 161 lbs,  16% body fat, & 26.1 BMI
Me 12/22/13 at 161 lbs, 16% body fat, & 26.1 BMI

I plan on weighing myself and taking my bioimpedance body fat measurement every two weeks.  I’ll post my progress here and we’ll all see if this does the trick in helping me shed excess body fat.

Do you have any tips or success with counting macros? Please share in the comments below.


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