Ah, welcome to the world of counting macros. It can be daunting with so much information out there, but with time, counting macros can be easy.
With that said here are the questions you should be asking in regards to counting macros:
(*Before starting any new diet plan, please consult your physician.)
How Do I Find Out What My Macronutrient Breakdown Is?
The best place to start counting macros is with a macro calculator. We’ve spent years on the algorithm and tweaking the calculations so we’re a great place to start.
If you want to go about it on your own:
I advise using a multiplier breakdown such as this one below, which will allow you to gain a deeper understanding of where these numbers stem from.
This may take some adjusting on your end to figure out what works best for you based on your variables.
What about counting macros if you have a medical restriction such as PCOS, Type I or II diabetes, Hashimoto’s, Hypothyroidism etc.?
We have had thousands of clients with medical designations. Counting macros isn’t just for those with a clean bill of health. Macronutrients make up everything that you consume.
That doesn’t change due to your medical dietary restriction. You will just need to pay closer attention to what and how much you’re consuming until you find that sweet spot.
Oftentimes lowering carbs and fat (which lowers calorie intake) helps for those with thyroid issues. Yet, if you’re taking medication to regulate it then you may be able to stick closer to the calculator’s output.
Adjusting this to your lifestyle variables may be a little more tricky in your scenario but easily doable. For instance, we have an entire calculator dedicated to those with PCOS so they have a springboard for counting macros.
Although we don’t have this resource for each medical restriction, we have coaches with extensive experience ready to build a Macro Blueprint for you.
There’s no black and white answer here, counting macros comes down to preference, adherence, activity level, lifestyle etc. Which leads to the next important question.
(*Before starting any new diet plan, please consult your physician. This is especially vital for those with medical restrictions.)
How do I exchange macronutrients?
For those who want to eat more of a certain macronutrient in lieu of another. For instance, a diabetic who prefers to eat fewer carbs than allotted and wants to increase their protein and/or fat intake.
Exchanging while counting macros is simple. Protein and carbs are 1:1 ratio with both equaling 4 calories per gram, while fat is 9 calories per gram which make it a 2.5:1 ratio compared to that of the other two macronutrients.
Let’s say the macro calculator gave you these numbers:
Yet, you prefer to consume more fat and a little more protein. As mentioned above, swapping for protein while counting macros is straightforward, if you take 5 grams of carbs then it will also be 5 grams of protein exchanged.
For fat, it won’t be as straightforward. For example, if you want to be eating 75 grams of fat instead (15-gram increase equaling 135 calories), you’ll need to drop your carbs by 34 grams which equal 136 calories.
This will make your new breakdown for counting macros:
|Macronutrient||Gram Amount/Calories||Added/Subtracted Gram Amount|
Here’s how we got to this conclusion. First, I decided to add 15 grams of fat which is 135 calories (fat = 9 calories per gram). Then I divided 135 calories by 4 (calories per gram of carbohydrate), this equaled 33.75 grams (rounded up to 34g).
Lastly, I did a 1 for 1 swap with carbs and protein with 5 grams which are 20 calories (5 grams x 4 calories). It’s that simple, which is the beauty of counting macros! It allows for this flexibility while dieting for fat loss, maintenance or bulking.
How Many Grams of Protein Is Needed To Retain Muscle While In a Calorie Deficit?
This is one of the most loaded questions in regards to counting macros. It feels as though new research comes out constantly pertaining to this. Yet, we had an article written which outlines how much protein is enough while dieting.
We base it on lean body mass rather than body weight which is the amount of weight carried on your body that isn’t fat.
This is why the suggested protein intake whether it will be from the macro calculator or your Macro Blueprint may seem less than you’re used to.
With this said, the reason most go off of body weight is that figuring out your LBM can be difficult. This is why the common recommendation is .7-1 gram/lb. of BW/d.
Why Are Carbs Important When Counting Macros?
If you are active at all, you will benefit from carbs being included in your diet. They are absolutely superior in regards to performance over fats.
When carbs are burned they produce significantly more energy than fat.
Including an adequate number of carbs, while counting macros will greatly benefit your day-to-day voluntary activity. Along with performance benefit, they help with satiation and digestion (from fiber).
Beyond these factors, carbs being included in your diet plan will help you with sanity aka adherence. An adequate number of carbs alleviates a lot of restriction while counting macros.
Yet, this leads me to another great question. (besides Why does IIFYM give me so many calories?)
Is Counting Macros with IIFYM All About Eating A Moderate to High Carbohydrate Intake?
We get pigeon holed into being carb-zealots that denote other ways of eating. When it’s the correct scenario we prefer to provide our clients and readers with more carbs than they are used to so they can achieve a more balanced adherable diet.
This doesn’t mean that we are averse to eating a little more fat or protein in lieu of carbs. We understand that preference is a factor in creating plans and that is why we support a multitude of macro splits for our clients and followers.
Counting macros is meant to be flexible, sustainable and a long term solution for altering one’s physique while creating a healthy existence (both physically and mentally).
Is Exercise Necessary to Lose Fat?
There’s been a lot of discussions recently in the community about this, and the plain answer is; No.
Although voluntary activity such as cardio and/or resistance training has health benefits and raises your energy expenditure, it’s not needed to lose fat.
When you gain fat (unwanted weight), the main reason is your diet. The same goes for when you’re looking to lose fat, your diet should be the main driver to do so.
“Whatever your activity level looks like, our coaches can tailor a custom diet plan for you.”
You can create a calorie deficit counting macros with your current energy output sans exercise.
With that said, we are proponents of an active lifestyle due to its multitude of health benefits.
What Should I Do When I Hit a Fat Loss Plateau?
This question is paramount to being successful while counting macros.
We had a great piece created for this reason, here are the steps to go through and questions you should be asking: Here’s how to break out of a plateau
Should I Consider Taking a Diet Break?
It depends on the longevity of your current diet. If you’ve been counting macros in a calorie deficit for multiple months then you may need to push pause.
Here’s the best way to go about it and whether you fall under the umbrella: Ready For a Diet Break?
How Much Of A Factor Is My Weight Training In Plateauing?
Those new to counting macros for fat loss and are simultaneously beginners to weight training are going to experience what is known as “newbie gains”. This will be a factor and may cause an increase in your scale weight.
This is a fortuitous time for this individual, due to a body recomposition is occurring in one fell swoop rather than multiple stages.
Yet, as you become more advanced your muscle stimuli adapt to your training regimen. This is where ‘progressive overload’ and counting macros for a calorie surplus is needed for hypertrophy (gaining muscle) moving forward.
We go into more detail on these subjects here (the likelihood of losing fat and gaining muscle simultaneously) and here (embrace the muscle as a beginner).
How do I Know When to Transition From Cutting to Bulking and Vice Versa?
We had a lot of clients that wanted to know how to transition goals so, we had an article created for it.
Especially since there’s a lot to consider when it comes to transitioning diet plan goals: Are you ready to transition physique goals?
The simplistic answer is based on where you stand, here are some figures from the article:
- Males – 10-15lbs above previous ideal body weight
- Females – 8-12 lbs above previous ideal body weight”
If you’re within these ranges then you don’t need to start counting macros for a cutting program. You may continue putting on muscle and strength in the gym.
In the event you’re outside of these ranges then you may be ready to start a fat loss plan such as a Macro Blueprint.
Why Is It Better to Weigh Rather Than Track Volume?
This is a game changer for most of our clients. They realize that they’ve been over counting macros due to using measuring cups.
For instance, say you plan on eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You decided to measure out 3 tbsp. of Maranatha peanut butter, which is 2 tbsp. (32 grams). This is taken at face value and you track it for 48 grams (32 + 16g = 48g for 3 tbsp).
This gives you:
|Macronutrient||Number in Grams (g)|
A week later you hear that weighing is far more accurate, so you decide to take the exact measurement for peanut butter. Yet, you find out that after weighing it out, you get 64 grams.
Here’s the difference in macros after weighing the same measurement:
|Macronutrient||Number in Grams (g)|
You notice the massive discrepancy. Weighing streamlines counting macros significantly, it reduces accidental overeating. Instead of accidentally eating 408 calories of peanut butter, you consume the original calorie intake of 306 from the first table.