Macronutrients are a hot subject in the weight loss community. Proponents argue that failing to count macros will hinder muscle gain and weight loss, while others claim that the process is not necessary to reach your ideal weight. Which is correct?
Macronutrients: A Definition
Much like counting calories, counting macronutrients involves leaving out the amount of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats you eat in a day to match a preset percentage. The most typical percentages allocate 40% of your daily food intake to carbs, 40% to protein, and 20% to fat. These rates can be changed to fit your unique fitness goals but is the most common distribution of percentages.
Some choose to fulfill each percentage in each meal, while others spread the percentages out through the day, perhaps eating a protein-heavy breakfast, followed by a fat-heavy lunch, and rounding out with a carbohydrate-rich dinner. The choice is largely up to the person, as both work as a method of counting macros.
What Is It Useful For?
Counting your macros is useful if you are completing an exercise regimen with a specific end goal in mind. If you are hoping to compete in a tournament, for instance, or run a marathon, counting macros is a straightforward and efficient way to make sure your body is getting all of the nutrient groups it needs to build strength and lose weight. Long-term, macro counting is widely unsustainable for some, as it requires significant attention to detail.
Is Macro Counting Necessary?
Ultimately, keeping count of your macronutrients is not essential for weight loss. It can be a useful tool for weight loss—particularly if building muscle and strength training are involved—but is not a requirement. You can effectively slim down through simple, healthy eating, without the addition of keeping close track of each type of food you are eating.
Although it also is not necessary for more focused efforts, tracking macros can be useful for short-term training purposes. Macro counting makes sure you are not depriving your body of any of the nutrients required to sustain large amounts of physical activity.
Whether you decide to keep track of your macronutrients or not, the most important step in fueling your body for weight loss is filling it with healthy, whole foods. Even on a macro-counting regimen, filling your stomach with greasy foods and sugar will stall the most dedicated athlete.