Measuring Macros: A How-To

By October 8, 2017Healthy Eating, Nutrition
measuring macros

Now that we’ve introduced the concept of macros and explained how you can tweak them to reach your goals, we’re going to teach you about measuring macros. It’s a little bit of math, so hold on to your calculators!

As a refresher, the recommended ranges for each macronutrient are:

  • Carbohyrates: 45-65 percent of your daily caloric intake
  • Protein: 10-35 percent of your daily caloric intake
  • Fat: 20-35 percent of your daily calorie intake
Say you want to aim for a 45-35-20 plan. If your daily caloric intake is 2,000 calories, then you’ll consume 900 calories’ worth of carbohydrates, 700 calories’ worth of protein and 400 calories’ worth of fat. Got that?


(And just in case math *really* isn’t your thing, here’s how you can adjust these numbers to reflect a higher or lower daily caloric intake: Take your daily calorie goal and multiply it times 0.45 to get your carbs; multiply it times 0.35 to get your protein; and multiply it times 0.20 to get your fat.)


Now, the next step–you have to convert grams of food to calories. Keep in mind:
  • A gram of carbohydrates has 4 calories.
  • A gram of protein has 4 calories.
  • A gram of fat has 9 calories.
So if you’re trying to limit carbs to 900 calories a day, you can eat 225 grams of carbs. If you’re aiming for 700 calories of protein each day, you should eat 175 grams of protein. And if you want to stick to 400 calories of fat, then you should only consume 44 grams of fat.


If you’re working with different calorie counts, simply take your calorie goal for carbs and divide by 4; take your calorie goal for protein and divide by 4; and take your calorie goal for fat and divide by 9. Make sense?


Woohoo! You’ve figured out how many grams you should eat of each kind of food! But what does this mean in the real world?


Finding Food Figures


Processed food will tell you right on the label how many grams of each kind of macro are in a serving. Write down what you eat in a handy dandy notebook. (Or use the Notes mode on your phone; whatever works for you.) Track your totals throughout the day.


Eating whole foods without labels? High five!!! You just have a wee bit more work.


Using a food scale, a measuring cup or measuring spoons, figure out how much of a certain food you’re eating. For example: If you’re making a salad, weigh your shredded chicken breast on a food scale. Count out your cherry tomatoes and baby carrots. Measure your lettuce, zucchini slices and cucumbers in a measuring cup. And measure your dressing in a measuring spoon.


Then hit Google to get your grams. and are consistently comprehensive resources too.

This sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? Never fear: Most of us eat the same 20-30 foods repeatedly. Save your macro counts for favorite foods in your handy-dandy notebook, and you’ll be measuring macros in an instant.

From here, the world is your oyster (Pacific, raw, medium: 2.5 grams carbs, 4.7 grams protein, 1.1 grams fat). You can boost your protein to a 40-40-20 plan to build muscle. You can increase carbs to 50-30-20 before an endurance race. You can decrease your calories to lean down and still calculate a balanced diet.

Maybe you aren’t measuring macros every day, but trying it for a while can tremendously elevate your eating awareness and help you achieve healthier habits. Practice makes improvement. Let us know how it goes!

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