If you’re looking to lose weight, gain muscle, or even just eat healthier, flex dieting is the diet for you. Flex dieting, or what we like to call macro counting, is the perfect way for you to keep track of your diet and get the body results you want.
However, if you do a simple Google search for macro counting, you’ll be bombarded with hard to understand articles leaving you feeling overwhelmed and ready to ditch this “easy” diet. Macro counting shouldn’t require you to have a degree in nutrition to understand it. We’re here to break it down into simple and easy to understand terms so you can quickly get started.
When you’re counting macros, you are really counting your macronutrients that your body needs. Macronutrients are what our body needs to survive and can be divided into three familiar groups: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Depending on your goal of dieting, your macro percentage will vary. Macro counting is all based on the percentage of each macronutrient category in relation to the amount of calories you need a day.
For example, if you want to maintain your current weight and you need 1600 calories a day to maintain it, you would want to aim for around 40% of your daily amount of macros as carbs, 35% as protein, and 25% as fat.
With 1600 calories, this would equate to 160 grams of carbohydrates, 140 grams of protein, and about 44 grams of fat a day. Once you hit your macro count, you are finished eating for the day. To find your macro count in grams, you’ll divide your daily caloric need by the percentage of macro category and then divide that by 4 for carbohydrates and protein, and 9 for fat. We do this because 1 gram of carbohydrates has 4 calories, 1 gram of protein has 4 calories and 1 gram of fat has 9 calories.
For 1,600 calories it would be as follows:
- Carbohydrates: 1600 calories X .4 = 640 calories –> 640 calories / 4 = 160 grams
- Protein: 1600 calories X .35 = 560 calories –> 560 calories / 4 = 140 grams
- Carbohydrates: 1600 calories X ..25 = 400 calories –> 640 calories / 9 = 44 grams
The most difficult part of macro counting is finding your daily caloric need and percentages. This can vary wildly from person to person and depends on your diet goal.
If you want to lose weight, your macro percentage should be in the range of around 20% carbs, 50% protein, and 30% fat. You’ll also want to find out your daily caloric needs and cut that by 10-20% depending on your weight loss goal and length of time you have to achieve it. Cutting that 1600 caloric need by 10% would get you 1,440 calories a day. Your macro count would then be 72 grams of carbs, 180 grams of protein, and 48 grams of fat.
If you want to build muscle, try adding 10-20% more calories than your daily caloric need. Adding 10% to the 1600 calories would put you at 1760. Then you should aim for 50% carbs, 30% protein, and 20% fat giving you a macro count of 220g carbs, 132g protein, and 39g fat.
What Do You Want From Your Diet
The first step for counting macros is to decide what you want from your diet. Once you decide if you’re goal is to lose weight, gain muscle, or maintain your current weight, find out your daily caloric need. There are calculators online that can help you determine your caloric needs for your age, weight, height, and activity level. Once you have this number, subtract 10-20% for weight loss, add 10-20% for muscle gain, or leave it alone for maintaining your current weight. Then using the percentages above, find your macro count. Remember to divide the percentage of calories by 4 grams for carbohydrates and protein, and by 9 grams for fat.
Once you have your macro count figured out, it’s time to start diet planning. If you try to count your macros with fast food, this diet won’t work for you. This will work best for you if you plan your meals and snacks in advance to satisfy your hunger and keep within your macro count. Where your carbs, proteins, and fats come from are incredibly important for your body’s health and wellness.
Try to get your carbs from cruciferous vegetables and whole grains. Your protein should be from healthy sources like chicken, fish, eggs and a quality protein powder. Your fat content should come from nuts, seeds, and fatty fish like salmon or cod. Filling your body with healthy foods that fit into your macro count will help you to attain your goal faster.
Macro counting is an ideal diet to get the results you want. It’s also a flexible diet that leaves room for a cheat snack or meal (every once in a while) when it fits into your macros. You don’t have to say goodbye to your favorite snacks and treats! You just need to make sure that the rest of your day’s meals leave enough macros for your cheat snack. While cheat snacks and meals aren’t recommended for every day, it does allow you to look forward to an old favorite but still remain true to your diet.
Macro counting doesn’t need to be difficult and hard, there’s tons of great recipe and snack ideas online to help you transition into this diet. Once you try counting macros, you’re sure to never return to your old diet!