Math has never been my strong suit. I even feel a twinge of embarrassment whenever I take longer than most to calculate the tip at a restaurant. I hate number games like Sudoku. And the last time I took a math class was my junior year… of high school.
In spite of the rocky relationship I have with anything numerical, “know your numbers,” is some of the simplest business advice I’ve ever received. It’s also some of the best advice I’ve gotten as well.
Know your numbers, and you’ll know how to get better results. Always.
That’s the best part—this simple advice is universally applicable. With business. With marketing. With life. With fitness. With anything.
Knowing your numbers will help you maximize results.
Most things in life are a numbers game. And when it comes to nutrition, those numbers are macros. Knowing your nutrition numbers is often the difference between losing a few pounds and having a jaw-dropping transformation. And I want to tell you exactly why.
But for the sake of being thorough, I have to cover something important.
What’s a Macro?
A lot of people haven’t heard of macros/macronutrients. That’s totally okay. Here’s what they are, then we can get into why they matter and how they’ll change your fitness game.
Protein, carbs, and fats—these are the three macronutrients (macros for short). And everything you eat is some mixture of the three. They’re the main sources of fuel for the body. But each macronutrient serves a different purpose.
- Energy Density = 4 calories/gram
- Benefits include muscle growth, improved recovery, and steak.
Most people don’t eat enough protein.
Luckily, you don’t have to chug scoop after scoop of protein powder to get enough. There’s also no one-size-fits-all amount either. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered with a couple articles.
This one’s all about how much protein you need.
And this one’s about how much protein powder you need.
Eating protein is critical for protein synthesis (go figure), gaining or maintaining lean body mass, and recovery. Even if you aren’t a bodybuilder, eating enough protein makes for a stronger, leaner, and healthier you.
- Energy Density = 4 calories/gram
- Benefits include energy, improved physical performance, and froyo.
In case anyone was still curious, butter is not a carb.
And in case anyone still wondered, carbs don’t make you fat.
Sure overeating carbohydrates can lead to weight gain. But so can overeating anything—even broccoli. Overconsumption and weight gain is not something unique to carbs alone.
Regardless of what carbohydrates you eat—could be a doughnut or steel cut oats—they serve the same basic purpose. The body breaks it down into glucose, which is then used as energy.
Carbs aren’t the enemy, they’re the fuel that helps you crush your workouts.
But how much fuel you need depends on one main variable—your activity level. The more active you are, the more your body needs carbohydrates as fuel. Somebody that spends hours in the gym each day needs a lot of carbs. Someone that spends hours on the couch watching Netflix doesn’t.
Fats (Delicious Flavor)
- Energy Density = 9 calories/gram
- Benefits include vitamin absorption, improved brain function, and bacon.
Fats aren’t unhealthy. The anti-fat pendulum is finally swinging away from the extreme. That’s cause to celebrate.
There are the obvious reasons—butter and cream are delicious. But also, consuming enough fat helps your body and brain function optimally. It even helps improve vitamin absorption.
Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluble vitamins (meaning they dissolve in fat). Without consuming fat, you’re unable to take full advantage of the massive salad you had at lunch. And let’s be real, what good is a salad at lunch if you’re not getting the nutrients?
But not all fats were created equally.
Most fats are fantastic—even saturated. But I always advise against any sort of trans fats. Why? they’re linked with a slew of cardiovascular problems. Artery-clogging trans fatty acids are becoming less common here in America. But sometimes, they’ll still sneak their way into your food. Any food containing hydrogenated oils contains trans fat and it’s best to avoid them.
As for fat consumption, a lot of variables can affect how much fat you should have. But I recommend having at least 20% of your calories come from fat.
Which reminds me, actually…
Stop Counting Your Calories
You need to know your caloric goals to accurately calculate macros. But once you’ve done that, you don’t have to worry about your calories. And you especially don’t need to count them every day.
Don’t get me wrong, proper caloric intake is paramount to success. In fact, it’s priority number one. If you want to lose weight, you have to consume less calories than you burn. And if you want to gain weight, you have to consume more calories than you burn.
Calories matter, but hit your macros and calories will take care of themselves.
Each of the macronutrients release a specified amount of energy when broken down. This energy is a calorie. As such, your macro intake determines your caloric intake.
Each gram of protein contains four calories. Carbohydrates are also four calories per gram. Fat, on the other hand, is more energy dense and has nine calories per gram.
- 20 grams of protein = 80 calories
- 20 grams of carbs = 80 calories
- 20 grams of fat = 180 calories
Every. Single. Time.
It doesn’t matter what kind of protein you eat, it’s always four calories per gram. The same goes for carbohydrates and fats (with four and nine, respectively).
There are few exceptions—Thanksgiving and birthdays—because on days like those, calories don’t exist. Every other day of the year, macronutrient energy density is the same.
If you track your macros and hit specific macronutrient goals, you’ll inevitably hit your calorie goal as well. Plus, you’ll get better results.
Instead of simply giving your body the calories it needs, you’ll be giving it the nutrients it needs.
Stop counting calories, start making your calories count, and take your nutrition to the next level.
Why Counting Macros Matters
Don’t count your calories. Simply make your calories count.
Let’s say your goal is to eat 2,000 calories per day. Those calories could be from foods your body needs, or from junk. The better choice is obvious.
We all know what we should have, but counting macros helps you know what you need.
That’s why counting macros matters. You can stop simply eating enough food, and start eating the right food. It completely changes the game.
Instead of shooting for 2,000 calories of whatever, you know exactly what you need—180 grams of protein, 169 grams of carbs, and 67 grams of fat. (These are arbitrarily calculated, bt-dubs. Not necessarily what’s going to be best for people eating 2,000 calories.)
No matter your goals, the right macros are your key to optimizing your success.
Giving your body what it needs to get the results you want is huge. But it doesn’t mean you have to eat boring and bland foods. Because let’s be honest, that’d be awful.
Maybe it’s the end of the day, you still haven’t hit your protein, and you order double chicken at Chipotle. Maybe you need more fat and crush a couple spoons of Justin’s Nut Butter. Or maybe you’re short on carbs and your body needs frozen yogurt.
Good food and the nutrients body needs. Double win.
You could get the same calories eating anything. Or you could make those calories count with macros. I strongly suggest the latter—you’ll look better, feel better, and curb cravings.
But you can’t make your calories count if you don’t know your macros.
That’s why I created The Macronutrient Cheat Sheet. It’s got everything you need to know your numbers, start tracking your macros, and get better results.
The best part? I’m giving it away.
Enter your email to get your free cheat sheet and start getting better results today.
I value your privacy and would never spam you.