Earlier this year, we asked a question that opened up a whole new world of healthy eating: what are macros? We learned about the concept of counting macronutrients — protein, carbohydrates, and fat — for your diet. Depending on what your dietary goals might be, you can count macros for weight loss, count macros to tone up and build muscle, and even count macros to boost your metabolism.
So we know what macros are, we know they can help you lose weight or lean out . . . but what is a macro diet, exactly? The truth is, there's no one-macro-diet-fits-all rubric; because every person's body is different, every person's diet is different. The baseline is the same, though: you determine your optimal caloric intake based on your body type and workout schedule and then decide what your goal is, whether weight loss, muscle gain, etc.
Once you have your caloric intake set, you figure out what portion of those calories are going to come from protein, carbohydrates, and fat. For metabolism boosting and muscle toning, you'll want to shift the proportions in your diet to 40 percent protein, 35 percent carbohydrates, and 25 percent fat. For fat loss, the proportions are 45 percent protein, 35 percent carbohydrates, and 20 percent fat. Sounds confusing? There are apps for this — and we'll get to that.
Whichever plan you choose, you're creating a more efficient diet for your body and a more sustainable plan you can maintain for life. Here's the gist of what a macro diet can be for you:
No food groups are eliminated
The macro diet is essentially the opposite of an elimination diet; you don't cut anything out at all. The idea is that you just redistribute your proportions of what you consume to fit your personal dietary needs. Dairy, gluten, sugar: they're all welcome, but there's a catch, in that you have to balance it all out.
It's a flexible diet
While the emphasis is on healthy foods to meet your macro needs — lean proteins (chicken, fish, lean beef), nutritious fats (like avocados, eggs, and nut butters), and hearty, fibrous carbohydrates (fibrous veggies, whole grains like quinoa, etc.) — you're still totally allowed to have a slice of pizza or a pile of pancakes. You just even it out with the rest of your day's food. So no, you can't eat all pizza all day, but you definitely don't have to deprive yourself. This diet is all about balance.
It's extremely personalized
Everyone's numbers will be different. Not everyone is on a diet to lose weight, just like not everyone needs 2,200 calories to maintain their weight, just like not everyone works out six days each week. We all have a different physical makeup, which means our numbers will vary from person to person. The key here will be the percentages you choose based on your health goals. Shifting your proportions means you'll be focusing on healthy proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, in whatever distribution is optimized for your personal needs.
It's not the 80/20 diet
While the 80/20 follows a similar pattern of flexibility and no elimination, the macro diet is a quantified diet. You do still count, but you're counting things like "how much protein did I get today, was it enough?" or "did I meet my healthy fat number today?"
This quantifiable data allows those who are more numbers-oriented to have more structure. While the counting can be tough at first, there are apps like MyFitnessPal, My Macros+, and Lose It! that can help you get started. After a while, it'll feel like second nature.
One of the things we love the most about this diet is its positive approach to food. No food groups are eliminated, no food groups are vilified, and you never have to have a "cheat meal." This helps foster a healthy relationship with food and a guilt-free approach to dieting. Are you ready?