Macro Counting Basics!

We’ve talked about macro counting but what does it really mean? Macros refers to Macronutrients including Carbohydrates (include sugars, starches and fibers), fats and protein. By determining your BMR (the calories your body needs) and proportions of macronutrients, you are able to feed your body based on it’s needs. This also, often encourages better choices overall while allowing flexibility.

How many calories should I eat for my body and my goals?

There are online calculators you can use OR you can kick it old school like me and do the math


Your BMR (basal metabolic rate) is the amount of calories your body requires just to perform daily, life sustaining functions. It’s the rate of your metabolism or the amount of calories your body burns at rest.

Here is the equation to calculate BMR.
W = weight in kilograms (weight (lbs)/2.2) =weight in kg
H = height in centimetres (inches x 2.54) =height in cm
A = age in years

Men: BMR=66.47+ (13.75 x W) + (5.0 x H) – (6.75 x A)
Women: BMR=665.09 + (9.56 x W) + (1.84 x H) – (4.67 x A)

Now, how many calories should you eat for your body and goals? I like to use the Harris-Benedict formula…it’s old school.

Harris-Benedict Formula for BMR

1. Calculate your BMR (basal metabolic rate):

  • Women: BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) – ( 4.7 x age in years )
  • Men: BMR = 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) – ( 6.8 x age in years )

2. Multiply your BMR by the appropriate activity factor, as follows:

  • Sedentary (little or no exercise): BMR x 1.2
  • Lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week): BMR x 1.375
  • Moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week): BMR x 1.55
  • Very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week): BMR x 1.725
  • Extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training): BMR x 1.9

3. Your final number is the approximate number of calories you need each day to maintain your weight.
Note: there is approximately 3500 calories per one pound of fat (0.45 kg).

4. If you’re looking to gain weight, you can increase this number by 250-500 calories. If you are looking to lose weight, you can eat in a deficit of up to 500 calories.

Counting macros (macronutrients)

I prefer counting macros over diets. These include fats, protein and carbohydrates.

Carbs yield 4 calories per gram
Protein yield 4 calories per gram
Fat yield 9 calories per gram

Fat: it is recommended to aim for 20-35% of your daily calories

Protein: it is recommended to eat .65-1.0 gram of protein per pound of body weight (~10-35%)

Carbohydrates: the remainder should come from carbs (45-60%)

If you’re like me and you try to stay away from simple\glutinous carbs, adjust these numbers accordingly and ensure your carbs are coming from complex carbs like brown rices, sweet potato, quinoa etc.

Keep in mind, these percentages are a general guide. They will/may need to be adjusted based on your body and your goals!

The math is done….now what?

The math is done, you now know your needs. You need to track your food. I use my fitbit app, this is definitely an option. Alternatively apps like My Fitness Pal work great to input your caloric goal and then you can input food as you go. I measure my food by size but you can weigh it for more accurate macros.

Fun fact: one pound of muscle burns 15-35 calories per day at rest (depending on who you ask haha). One pound of fat burns 2-3 calories per day.

Why starvation diets or deep deficits don’t work. Eating less food to lose weight sounds right, right? NO. It’s wrong and harmful. Not only do you leave yourself vulnerable to nutrient deficits, starving your body (or eating at too much of a deficit) tricks your body into thinking it is experiencing starvation. In order to survive, your body slows down the metabolism. It will not burn stored fat as readily as before, resulting in less output energy. Often, when your body is in this state, you crave high fat foods as your body tries to re-establish the caloric intake your mind/body knows it needs.

Be Kind to yourself.

Muscle is more dense than fat. Therefore it takes up less space for the same weight. If you are weight training and working at losing fat remember this, it is more important to watch measurements, how clothes fit and how you feel than the scale. If you have a scale that breaks it down for you, super! That helps you see an approximate fat percentage, muscle mass, water weight etc…otherwise stick to the other measures.

Depending on your body composition, you can lose 0.5-2 lbs of fat each week if your diet and exercise regime are right for your body.
If this is not your experience, sometimes additional measures need to be taken. Food sensitivities, hydration, medications etc. can cause the body to bloat, retain water, or maintain weight so understanding what is being put in your body and observing it’s reaction is key!

It’s important to remember that the goal is to understand your bodies needs and observe it’s functions 🙂 The exact same system isn’t going to work for everyone so I highly recommend exploring the higher and lower levels (%) and journaling what you eat, drink, sleep and how you feel! You can also monitor any changes in body composition!

If you’re having trouble balancing for your body, feel free to message me so I can help or refer you to a nutritionist who knows more than me!

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