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bowl of measured out foods according to macros

How to calculate macros

Calculating macros is a great way to control your diet without feeling overly restricted when it comes to food choice. The technique is rising in popularity thanks to its flexibility and health benefits.

But what are macros? And how do you work out how many there are in the foods you choose? Here we’ll look at macro dieting and explore the benefits and drawbacks to this type of controlled eating.

What are macros?

This type of eating plan forgets about counting calories and focuses on counting macros instead. Macros, or macronutrients, are the four types of food molecules which your body can use for energy. These are protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Alcohol is a fourth macronutrient, but there should be none in a macro-counting diet.1

How to start a macro diet

The ‘If It Fits Your Macros’ (IIFYM) plan involves calculating how much of each macronutrient you need to consume and adjusting your food to meet your requirements.

All food is a combination of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.2 You can choose whatever you like on an IIFYM plan, as long as you meet your daily macros.

How to work out your macros

To work out your macro allowance, you’ll need to follow some simple steps.

  1. Calculate your basal metabolic rate (the amount of energy your body uses up while at rest).3 You can do this using an online calculator
  2. Consider your activity level
  3. Consider your weight goals. If you want to lose weight, reduce your calorie intake. If you’re going to gain weight, increase your intake
  4. Work out your macros! This means your protein, fat, and carb intake based on body weight

Figuring out your macros without help can be tricky. Thankfully, there are lots of easy-to-use online calculators which can help you get started. You might also like to speak to a personal trainer or dietitian for help starting a macro-based eating plan.

The benefits of a macro-based eating plan

There are lots of benefits to starting an If It Fits Your Macros plan. Whether you’re aiming to lose or gain weight, your daily macros will be personal to help you achieve your goals.

You can eat whatever you like

One of the most attractive benefits of an IIFYM diet is that you’ll be able to eat whatever you like, as long as it fits your daily macros. There are no ‘bad’ foods on this type of diet, so you won’t feel restricted when it comes to your daily nutrition. You just need to focus on hitting your daily protein, fat, and carbohydrate goals.

You’ll learn a lot about nutrition

When you consider the protein, fat, and carbohydrate content of everything you eat, you’ll learn a lot about nutrition. For example, many foods contain the same number of calories, but in macro terms, these foods can be very different. While a chocolate bar might contain the same calories as a piece of fresh fish, the chocolate will be high in carbohydrates while the fish is a good source of protein.4

The drawbacks of a macro-based eating plan

You might miss out on essential nutrients

While no foods are off-limits when it comes to this type of eating plan, there are many foods which will be more beneficial to your overall health. Health-conscious IIFYM eaters will take their carbohydrates from fruits and whole grains. In contrast, others might choose sugary sweets and refined cereals. There are lots of other health considerations to take into account, and choosing nutritious foods is always important.

Last updated: 16 June 2020

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