After losing 70lbs with Weight Watchers (WW), I was maintaining nicely over the course of 10 years while discovering running, trying weight training and falling in love with CrossFit/Olympic Lifting. My weight was stable as I became more and more active but after three years of heavy weight lifting, my clothes started to get snug.
Something was missing.
I needed help in the nutrition department.
A from my gym started counting macros, and in a few short months, her entire physique changed as she got stronger and reached her more and more of her fitness goals. I had to give it a try.
I wasn't disappointed! In 15 weeks I was down nearly 20 pounds with what felt like only slight adjustments to my food choices. I was already eating all the right foods I just needed to balance them a little differently.
Ok, So what is a "macro"?
“Macros” is simply a shortened word for Macronutrients. Macros include carbohydrates, protein, and fat. The three nutrients that make-up calories. So when I say I'm "counting macros" I'm tracking (in grams) the number of carbohydrates, protein, and fat I consume instead of counting calories (or Points on WW).
There are some advantages and disadvantages to this.
Macro counting is complicated in the beginning. Instead of tracking one number, I manage three, and there needs to be a balance among them. So it does take some time to get used to it.
It's completely customizable. Everyone's bodies are different. We all maintain different lifestyles, levels of activities, and enjoy different foods. Macro counting can account for all of these factors and allows a person to find what works for them.
Through trial and error, I found the perfect combination for my body and activity level. The key was following through with it week-by-week, evaluating my progress, and then making adjustments.
How do you calculate your macros?
The million-dollar question! There are tons of great calculators out there, but so many are tied to crazy marketing schemes and won’t give you the results until you enter your email. From all my research I've found this to be a general rule of thumb for weight loss starting points:
Per pound of body weight the weight loss ranges are:
- .6 – 1 g of carbs
- .2 – .3 g of fat
- .8- 1.2 g of protein
I’m about 150 pounds, so that puts my ranges at:
- 90 – 150 g of carbs
- 30 – 45 g of fat
- 120 – 180 g of protein
Weight Loss Macro Starting Point Calculator
Here's a quick calculator to give you a starting point for weight loss. The lower range would be really aggressive. I would start at the upper as the goal is to find the most you can eat while still losing.
|Current Body Weight:||
|Please Note: These numbers are to help you find weight loss ranges. When I shift to more of a maintenance, I start to add fat and then carbs back. If you don't weight train I would err on the side of the lower protein as well|
My Initial Macro Counting Progress
Roni's Actual Weight Loss by Week (Using Daily Averages)
- Week 01: +.5
- Week 02: -1
- Week 03: -.8
- Week 04: -3.5
- Week 05: -1.3
- Week 06: +.3
- Week 07: -3.1
- Week 08: -.9
- Week 09: -2.7
- Week 10: -.3
- Week 11: -1.2
- Week 12: -1.7
- Week 13: -1.8
- Week 14: +.1
- Week 15: -1.7
That's 19.1 lbs down in 15 weeks!
Day-to-day it felt like the scale wasn't changing much at all. It’s up and down sometimes 3-4 pounds! But at the end of the week when I'd take the average, it consistently showed a downward trend.
The scale readings haven't been what impressed me the most with my macro experience. It’s my body composition. I’ve lost weight before, but I’ve never felt this “good." I don’t know any other word to describe it besides "good." I’m about 15 pounds heavier them my old WW low weight. However, I’m leaner, I fit into the same clothes, and I am eating more overall!
How do you even track?
I use MyFitnessPal to plan my meals and keep a daily food journal, but when I started, I liked having a big-picture-way to track my macros and progress, so I used a google sheet.
I've made my sheet template available with read-only access. To use it, all you need to do is click here and open it in Google Sheets. Then make a copy of it in your drive (I’m assuming you have a google account here), so you can edit it and add your data.
The sheet has all the formulas prefilled. So all you need to do is add the following, daily:
- hours of sleep
- morning scale reading (I like calling it this instead of weight. It helps remind me it’s just a number)
Are you still counting Macros?
Yes! Tracking macros has made a significant difference in how I make my food choices, and I have found a maintenance approach that works for me. I do take breaks and eat more intuitively at times, but I do always fall back to macros for accountability.
Will macro counting work for me?
I believe it can, but I cannot stress this concept enough:
(I know it's cheesy and overused)
You need to do what works for you AND MAKE IT A LIFESTYLE!
Weight management isn't an on/off thing. Find your balance.
If you are interested, I do make my food journals public on MyFitnessPal. I don't track every tiny little thing (seasoning's and such I'll skip in the name of time), but you will get the gist. Click here to see my food journals. Note: I do sometimes pre-plan so you may see things in there I'm going to eat but haven't yet.