Why You Should Count Your Macronutrients Instead of Just Calories
In order to properly use the Food Log included in the New Year’s Resolution Kickstarter Kit, you need to understand why it’s important to track your macronutrient intake, and not just your total calories. Not all calories are created equal, so it’s important to know the exact make-up of your total calories you consume each day.
Your total calories are made up of Carbohydrates, Protein and Fat. Carbs and protein account for 4 calories per gram, while Fat accounts for 9 calories per gram. When it comes to weight loss and muscle gain, the ratio of carbs:protein:fat plays a much more important role than total calories.
Many people find that as they count calories, their weight, body fat and muscle mass fluctuate seemingly at random even though they’re consuming a similar amount of calories every day. For example, if you eat 1500 calories every day, but one week your macronutrient ratio is 50% carbs, 30% protein, and 20% fat, and the next week your ratio is 30% carbs, 40% protein, and 30% fat, you’ll find that your body composition and weight will react much differently. It goes back to the simple comparison of 200 calories of donuts will affect your body far differently than 200 calories of chicken breast.
The reason for this is complex and differs for every person. The human body reacts differently to different macronutrients. Carbs often cause spikes in blood sugar, and without enough exercise or too many carbohydrates, consuming excess carbs can lead to insulin sensitivity and cravings. Wheres protein and fats tend to have a more satiating effect on the body.
While most bodies react in this way, the extent to which it does varies greatly between individuals. This is why it’s essential to monitor your macronutrient intake. For example, if you’re exercising three days per week and consuming 1500 calories, but not seeing the results you want, the answer likely isn’t to eat more or less calories. Instead, it’s more likely that you need to adjust your ratio of carbs:protein:fat. As you increase or decrease your amount of exercise, you then may need to eat more or less calories. You won’t know until you’ve properly tracked and adjusted your macronutrients for an extended period of time.
In order to find your starting point, there are a number of ways to do this. By using protein and your body weight, you can calculate your overall calories and then determine your carbs and fat from that.
Generally, for those trying to gain muscle mass, start with 1g of protein for every pound of bodyweight, up to 200lbs. Then, using a starting ratio of 40% Carbs, 30% Protein, and 30% Fat, you can determine your other numbers. Again, this is a starting point. You’re very likely going to have to tweak the ratio to see your desired results.
For those trying to lose body fat, start with 1g of protein for every pound of LEAN body mass. To determine this, use your body fat percentage and your body weight. Then, using a starting ratio of 30% Carbs, 40% Protein, and 30% Fat, determine your other numbers. Again, this is a starting point. You’re very likely going to have to tweak the ratio to see your desired results. See below for some examples.
Muscle Building at 175lbs
- 175lbs *1g = 175g Protein
- 175g * 4 calories = 700 Protein calories
- 700 / 30% = 2333 total calories
- 2333 * 40% = 933 Carb calories
- 2333 * 30% = 700 Fat calories
- 933 / 4 = 233g Carbs
- 700 / 9 = 78g Fat
- Total Daily Macro Content
- 233g Carbs : 175g Protein : 78g Fat
- Total calories = 2333 calories