What are macros?

What are macros?
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Macros: you hear them talked about all the time, but what exactly are they?

Whether it’s tracking macros, food being referred to as macro-friendly, hearing “if it fits your macros,” or any of the other thousands of references to “macros,” it can surely feel confusing.

But I promise you, it is quite simple.


The basics

Macros is shorthand for macronutrients.

Macronutrients refers to the fat, carbohydrates, and protein in food.

Why only these 3 things and not other stuff like sodium, cholesterol, or fiber?

The 3 macronutrients all have caloric value, which is why we count them.

1g of carbohydrates contains 4 calories.

1g of protein also contains 4 calories.

1g of fat contains 9 calories.


No matter which way you slice it, the caloric values listed above are ALWAYS true. Foods that are high in fat, such as nuts or avocado, are also high in calories, because fat has a high caloric value. A food cannot have 20 grams of protein and only 50 calories, because 20g of protein will ALWAYS contain 80 calories (20g x 4 calories = 80 calories).

So, when you track your macros, you’re also tracking your total calories.

At the end of the day, tracking macros is a more advanced way of counting calories.


Why would you want to track your macros?

Let’s be clear about what “tracking macros” is- it’s simply one tool of many to help you achieve your goals.

By no means is tracking something you need to do, and it very well may not be the best route for you. Personally, I have found it to be incredibly useful in not only helping me reach my goals, but in establishing a solid understanding of nutrition as a whole.


For weight loss (or weight gain)

Tracking macros can be a very effective tool when it comes to weight loss. We know that calories are the driving factor for weight loss, and if you are in a caloric deficit, you’ll lose weight.

But restricting your calories without much thought about what you are eating may not prove to be the best route for you to take.

Setting macro targets for yourself helps to make those goals much, much easier. For example, when you set a protein target for yourself, you’ll make sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet to keep you feeling full & satisfied, and preserve as much muscle as possible while losing bodyfat.

If you’re reading this and wondering how in the world you can possibly know how much of each macronutrient you should be eating, we’ve got you covered! Go check out our calorie & macro calculator to get our recommendations for you.


Help you build a base knowledge about nutrition

For me, the best part about tracking macros was how much knowledge it gave me about nutrition. I tracked my calories & macros for many years, and I’ve now gotten to the point where I no longer feel the need to track my macros.

By doing it for so many years, I’m able to eyeball my portions and focus on simply eating mindfully throughout the day while still hitting my goals. While I don’t know if I’m exactly hitting a protein target of 150g, I know how to prioritize protein in my meals and snacks to keep me close every single day.

When I go out to eat, I’m able to choose a dish that I know will best help me hit my goals (but let’s be clear, more often than not I’m not worrying about that when I go out to eat because I just want to enjoy myself!), and that’s something that I never would have been able to do in the past.

Most importantly, tracking macros for so long helped me to truly understand that no food is ever off-limits.

I have a ton of macro comparisons on my website that showcase exactly that.

When you break food down into macros, it really helps you to see food for what it really is. On the surface, you might assume that ordering a salad is a better choice for you than ordering a sandwich. But when you break the food down into macros and compare the two, sometimes you’ll find that the salad is not necessarily the better option!

That is why I’m so thankful for macros. It truly helped me establish a really positive relationship with food.


We’ll dive much more into macros in future posts, and we’ll also dive into micronutrients, so be sure to check back here for more!

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