Losing weight healthily is not only about regular exercise, consistent sleep and ample hydration— your ability to lose weight depends on your diet and the amount of nutrients and vitamins you fuel your day with. We reached out to health and nutrition experts to learn more about counting macronutrients, and how to take a closer look at what you consume in a day for your optimal health and a meal plan that will help you stay on track. Read on for tips and suggestions from Lisa Richards, registered nutritionist and creator of The Candida Diet and Dr. Rosmy Barrios, MD, health expert and medical content author at Health Reporter.
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Firstly, What Are Macronutrients or ‘Macros’ For Short?
Macronutrients are the foundation of our calories, Richards explains, as in the realm of food and nutrients, you will find macronutrients and micronutrients. “Calories come from macronutrients and include fat, protein, and carbohydrates,” Richards says. Micronutrients, on the other hand, are vitamins and minerals.
“These are equally important,” Richards notes, “but they don’t offer the body calories.” Each macronutrient, Richards adds, provides its own relative amount of calories. “Fat provides 9 calories per gram, protein provide 4 calories per gram and carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram as well,” she says. According to Richards, each is “vitally important to proper body functions” and are required at different percentages.
How To Calculate Macros
Calculating macronutrients can be a “more effective tool for weight loss” and overall energy gain than counting calories, Barrios says. “Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are the three macros needed for the proper functioning of your body,” she continues. As for calculating macronutrients, it is recommended to consume 45–65% of daily calories from carbs, 10–35% from protein, and 20–35% from fats, Barrios stresses. “Although, the healthiest way is to find out what macro ratio your body needs individually, as this can vary with height, weight, physical activity, desire to lose or gain weight, age, and so on,” she advises. This can be done with the help of tracking apps or fitness sites.
“Don’t forget food quality when focusing on macro calculations,” Barrios continues. She says that newcomers to counting these “often make the mistake of just looking at the numbers and choosing heavily processed foods that lack vitamins and minerals.” Another tip that she dubs “essential” its to remember that counting macros should be a short-term practice. “Focusing on numbers and the constant weighing of food products can become a quick way to dysfunctional eating,” Barrios concludes, “It is always good to be educated about macros, but making this a regular practice is not recommended.”
The best step to take for your optimal health and weight loss, these experts suggest, is by visiting your doctor for more information and to work together to create a meal plan that works for you and your goals.