Track your macros to ensure you're getting enough nutrition
Cutting calories is a popular way to monitor your diet, but many neglect the importance of tracking the macronutrients the body consumes.
It’s often not just about the amount of calories you consume, but what kind of calories you are taking in. Adhering too closely to calorie-counting might influence one to think that a 300-calorie chocolate cake and a 300-calorie dish of baked salmon are equally nutritious.
What are macros?
Macros refer to macronutrients, which are the three key food groups the body needs to function - carbohydrates, protein and fat. As such, tracking macros involves keeping track of the number of grams of macronutrients you consume in a day. Here is a quick breakdown:
1g of carbohydrates = 4 calories
1g of protein = 4 calories
1g of fat = 9 calories
Carbohydrates are the main source of fuel for the body, and are typically found in starchy foods like rice or noodles, which are the staples in most Singaporean meals. Good sources of carbohydrates are oatmeal, sweet potato, brown rice, whole-wheat breads and cereals, as well as all vegetables and fruits.
Protein is useful for growth and tissue repair, on top of preserving lean muscle mass and being a source of energy when carbohydrates are not available for use. You can get protein from chicken, lean beef, fish, egg whites, tofu, beans, and cottage cheese.
Fat is essential for survival, contrary to popular belief. It helps in growth and development, in addition to providing energy and cushioning for our organs. Saturated and trans fats are known to be unhealthy for the heart, while unsaturated fats are the healthiest fats to consume and can be found in olive oil, nuts and avocado. Some other good sources of fat are nut butters, egg yolks, cheeses and dark chocolate.
How to track macros?
Macro-tracking has proven popular amongst bodybuilders and models, who work out to achieve specific goals related to their overall physique, like getting leaner, gaining more muscle and such.
According to personal trainers and nutrition coaches, the recommended daily proportions for macros are as follows:
To boost metabolism or build muscle, consume 40% protein, 35% carbs and 25% fat. To lose fat, have 45% protein, 35% carbs and 20% fat.
Fret not if you are not comfortable with such numbers and calculations, because there is an array of online apps to help you out with macro-tracking as well as calorie-counting.
When to track macros?
For people looking to achieve specific weight or physique goals, whether in preparation for a photo-shoot or competition, tracking macros could be a good way to drop stubborn weight, as it makes one extra mindful of the types of food eaten, and each small adjustments could count to helping you achieve your fitness goals.
Those with a poor concept of nutrition can also rely on macro-tracking to identify the best kinds of food for their bodies. It’s easy to under- or overestimate the amount of nutrients you are consuming, so discovering the amount of macros in your meals can help to put everything into perspective.
Naturally, as you track your nutrients and begin making changes to your eating habits, be mindful of choosing healthy and whole foods instead of processed foods in order to get the most out of your new diet.
Lastly, before jumping into tracking your macros, remember your end-goal. Experts have cautioned against being obsessed with tracking each and every bit of food you consume, as some might lose track of the bigger picture. Tracking macros are supposed to make you more mindful of the nutrients you consume, not to ruin your experience with food. The ultimate goal should be to achieve better health, and gain personal fulfillment!