September 20, 2016

Macros….where should you start?

So you’ve heard all this talk about Macros and Flexible dieting. And honestly after you figure out what it is, then you have to go through the overwhelming task of figuring out what numbers to start with.

Once you already understand the main ideas behind flexible dieting you are ready to move on and figure out what numbers to use. If you haven’t read my blog explaining what IIFYM is, and the concepts behind it, read it here first.



So there is bad news, and good news.

Well, here’s the bad news….there are no perfect numbers, because everyone is different.

The good news is there is a good general range to start, and you can use macro counting to increase your results with any goal (weight loss, muscle building, and maintenance). You can use macro counting whether you are a person who likes variety in your daily diet or whether you like to eat the exact same thing every day.

Playing with macro numbers is a little like hide and seek. You start with a general idea of where you are going, but it might take you a little bit to find the right spot for you, and that is ok. In the process you are learning invaluable information about your body, and what works for you and what won’t.

So where do you start as a beginner?

Well, once you understand that macro nutrients are protein, carbohydrates, and fats and you calculate your daily calorie limits with fitness pal (Click here to learn more about calorie limits with fitness pal) you need to go to the “goals” section and adjust the macro percentage daily goals.

A good moderate place to start with your macronutrients as a healthy active adult is 40% of your daily calories coming from protein, 30% of your daily calories coming from fat, and 30% of your daily calories coming from carbohydrates. (Any adults with any type of medical or health condition always need to consult a doctor before starting an exercise and nutritional program.)

That’s right…you need to eat fat AND carbohydrates!

Is that macro ratio going to work for everyone? No. Of course not. It’s not a one size fits all nutritional world, but it is a really good place to start.

When I started macro counting I realized how many carbs I was actually eating, that fruit is all carbs (I had no idea way back when), and that I wasn’t eating enough fats in my diet.

Now another thing to understand is that your total grams of each nutrient will be based on your number of daily calories.

Some people like to track with only grams, and other people like percentages and calories. Whatever makes sense to you is what you should use. I typically recommend beginners only focus on percentages and calories first so the confusion doesn’t set in. But I’ve also known beginners who think it’s easier to track in grams. Either way is fine. And you can track both in fitness pal.

I’ll give you an example. If my daily calories are 1700 and I’m using a 40% protein/ 30% fat/ and 30% carbohydrate macro split, my grams for each of the macro nutrients (protein, fat, carbs) would be lower than if I was on the same percentages (40-30-30%) at a 2000 calorie diet. Make sense?

Another thing to keep in mind when you are starting as a beginner with macro counting, is that as you add food to fitness pal the macro ratios and pie chart will change and fluctuate with each food item added.

The goals is to be at your 40%/30%/30% macro split by your last meal at the end of the day. The best way to stay within your calorie and macro ratio goals is to plan ahead.

I tell my clients to plan the day before. This preplanning, helps to ensure that you will hit your calorie and macro goals as closely as possible.

Now these macro ratios are good starting percentages. I recommend fluctuating during the course of a year so you can meet your specific goals better, whether that is muscle building, losing weight, or maintaining weight.

Remember to always consult a physician before starting a nutritional or exercise program. The advice in this article is based off of my experience in what works for me and my clients. Changing nutritional program for someone who has health or medical concerns can cause adverse effects. 


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