Macro counting seems to be the latest and greatest weight loss trend recently. But what exactly is it? What makes it different than traditional calorie counting? What are our thoughts on it? Read ahead to see 😏
“Macro” is short for macronutrients, the main components of food. Macronutrients are nutritional compounds our bodies need in large amounts for energy. There are three macronutrients – carbohydrates, protein and fat.
Carbohydrates are the body’s primary fuel source. They are the easiest macronutrient for the body to digest. There are three types of carbohydrates: sugars, starches and fiber. Simple carbohydrates such as sugar are used for quick energy while complex carbs such as brown rice or quinoa take longer to digest. Complex carbohydrates will provide a more steady supply of energy and are the preferred choice. Carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram. Examples of carbohydrates include: bread, fruit, oatmeal, potato, rice.
Protein is made up of amino acids, which are the basic building blocks to our cells. They are in charge of building and repairing cells, like muscles. Protein is the macronutrient that is the most responsible for satiety (feeling full). Protein contains 4 calories per gram. Examples of protein include: meat, fish, eggs, poultry, dairy.
Fat is the body’s most efficient energy source. At 9 calories per gram, it contains the most calories. Fats have both structural and metabolic functions in the body. These include hormone production, nutrient absorption and body temperature regulation. Example of fat include: olive oil, avocado, nuts.
Is it calorie counting?
Macro counting is similar to calorie counting in that you’re focusing on a number rather than hunger and fullness cues. When you’re strictly counting calories, however, you don’t take into consideration how much protein, carbohydrate, and fat you’re eating within those calories. Macro counting takes this to the next level by focusing on the grams of each macronutrient – carbohydrates, protein, and fat. You have daily macro targets and you weigh/measure your food in order to accurately track and achieve those assigned numbers. Your goal is to hit those assigned numbers within a few grams each day.
In theory, like calorie counting, when used correctly, macro counting can be a useful tool for weight loss. However, we’ve also experienced that when focusing solely on calories and macros, clients stop listening to their body’s hunger and satiety cues. People will often find themselves having an extra snack, at night regardless of their hunger “because I have X grams of carbs and X grams of fat left”. Macro counting does allow for some flexibility compared to other diets in that it adapts the “all foods fit” mentality – no foods or food groups are eliminated.