Macros For Beginners: How The Macro Method Makes Macro Counting Easier

Helen Foster
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It’s an exciting week this week – the new book I wrote with registered nutritionist Angela Dowden is out. It’s called The Macro Method and it helps make the process of counting macros a LOT easier – especially for beginners. So, let me tell you a little bit about it….

What is Counting Macros?

Macros stands for macronutrients. Macronutrients are the main components of food – fat, protein and carbohydrates. We need all of them for optimum nutrition.

Counting macros is basically a way of balancing your food intake to ensure you’re getting not just the right amount of calories to help you meet your health and fitness goals – but also, the best mix of protein, carbohydrates and fats to achieve them too.

After all, if you’re running 12 hours a week, you’re likely to need more carbohydrates than some one who sits at a desk all day. If you carry your weight around your middle, then you might be someone who does better on a higher protein diet than one packed with starchy carbs.

Counting macros helps you find the best mix for you so you can put that on a plate.

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Why Do You Need To Make Macro Counting Easier?

While that description sounds nice and simple, the problem is, macro counting is normally a blooming faffy way to lose weight or eat healthier for other reasons!

I mean the first step in working out your macros is to calculate how many calories you burn each day just existing (a number called your basal metabolic rate) … and just look at the equation that you use to do it…

For men: BMR =10W + 6.25H – 5A + 5

For women: BMR =10W + 6.25H – 5A – 161

Gobbledegook for anyone who isn’t good at maths – and, then on top of that, you’ve got to add in the calories you burn moving around and exercising (and know how to estimate that correctly), then covert those into grams of fat, protein and carbohydrates – and finally, discover how to make that work on a plate. Faffy!

So, Angela and I attempted to make macro counting simple.

Finding out the exact number of grams of protein, fat and carbohydrates you need to eat every day is broken down into five simple steps – and, probably takes you about 10 minutes to calculate with a calculator.

We then explain exactly how you convert that basic set of numbers into tasty meals like bacon sandwiches, Greek Salad and spaghetti bolognaise (although possibly not all on the same day!).

Normally this is where you encounter the main problem with macro counting for beginners.

Despite all my posturing above, the equation is actually pretty simple if you’ve got a calculator – but, once you know that, for example you need 112g of protein, 149g of carbohydrates and 50g of fat every day (which would be a sensible amount for the average woman doing a little bit of exercise) then what? How do you eat that?

At this point it’s normally suggested that you start using an app like My Fitness Pal to count things – and it’s true that it is the best way to count macros as it does make the math a lot easier.

So, armed with your meal plan and your app you add your daily food in. So let’s say you want to eat…

Breakfast: 50g of All Bran, 250ml skimmed milk and 100g strawberries

Lunch: Salad of 2 tomatoes, 100g cucumber, 50g of feta cheese, 5 olives and a slice of granary bread.

Afternoon snack: Two Digestive biscuits and 100g 5% fat Greek yogurt

Dinner: 125g chicken breast with 50g (dry weight) penne pasta and a sauce of 200g tinned tomatoes and 100g mushrooms.

And you find out that this is

112g of protein, 107g of carbohydrates, 45g of fat

So, spot on for protein – but too low in carbs and fat – so now what?

Well, you can stare at your app for as long as you like, but it won’t actually suggest what you need to add to make those numbers up and, if you’re not used to reading labels and aren’t sure what foods contain which macros, you could spend the rest of the day adding random foods into the app to hit the spot…. but not with The Macro Method.

If you’ve got our book you just use the set of macro-counted tables at the back of the book to fill in the gaps of the macros you need; add all of that to your app (or your paper food diary, we’re not totally techheads here) and voila, your day’s meals are sorted. It really does make tracking macros easier

It’s frankly the missing link in pretty much everything I’d read about macros before (even if I do say so myself!).

illustration showing foods in the main macronutrients groups - carbs, proteins and fats

There’s Also a Macro-Counted Diet Plan!

Big woop, I hear you say – it’s a diet book, I’d be expecting a plan.

But, this shouldn’t really be possible in a book on how to track macros – after all the whole point of the thing is that every person calculates their own macro ratio depending on their age, gender, exercise level and food likes and dislikes; what I need to eat is not what you’re going to need to eat and it’s completely different from what your mum, dad, partner, sister, brother or the postman need to eat…. but we did it.

Although, I’ll you into a little secret – about two days before the book was due, I decided to try throwing in random weights, heights, exercise levels of my friends to ensure it worked.

It was going really well for my weight, height and exercise level and a few people close to it – not too much jiggling each day – but once I started adding in tall marathon-running women, or The Boyfriend who carries a lot of muscle and at that point was training seven days a week, I realised they’d wrap themselves up in knots trying to eat all the food you needed to add in a day – and so back to the drawing board we went.

That was a stressful 48 hours I can tell you!

However, we found a simple way that this diet can work for everyone no matter what their gender, age, fitness level by adding some snacks tailored to what people needed.

You do still have to jiggle things a bit to get to your exact numbers, but that’s because the plan is tailormade for your body – not anyone else’s. And again, those tables I mentioned make it so much easier.

The added bonus of the jiggling compared to not just following an exact spoonfed plan, you start getting results while you learn how to count macros. And by learning to count macros, you also develop the tools you need to keep the weight off once you’ve lost it. Win win!

It was a really fun book to write – even if I am rubbish at maths. I’ve counted macros for a while, but found I really enjoyed jiggling around the examples in the book to try and find out what food fitted into the life of imaginary Jenny and Matt who I used to check everything worked.

Oh and the recipes don’t suck either! You’ll find over 40 macro-counted recipes including delicious goodies like Overnight Apple Pie Oats (they’re a bit moreish), Creamy Tomato Pasta and a lot of super healthy salads as part of the plan.

So, enough sales patter.

Here’s What It Looks Like

And if you’re interested in seeing more, you’ll find it in all good bookshops in the UK, or you can buy it here. And if you have any questions about macro counting and how to make it easier, pop them below and I’ll answer them (Or frantically email Angela so she does it!!).

Who is The Wellness Nerd?

My name is Helen Foster, and I’m a health journalist and wellness author. Publications I’ve written for include Women’s Health, Reader’s Digest, Body and Soul, Good Health at the Daily Mail, and more. I have also written 16 books on health and nutrition.

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