What’s the Deal With: Counting Macros

  • Written By:Dr. Jaime Schehr N.D, R.D​
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"What's The Deal With" is a series from Dr. Jaime Schehr (N.D., R.D) that explores the latest health news, buzzy ingredients, and answers your most asked wellness questions.

Should I Count My Macros?

This strategy can work well and improve the quality of the foods you are eating by focusing more on the nutrient rather than the calorie number, but it is very much still a diet. People with consistent routines, time to meal prep, and who don’t eat out often find this easier than most. It is true that this method can have good results when followed properly (key word: properly).

I do, and have often, used this method for my clients when it's appropriate— it’s not the right choice for everyone. I also believe that following this program for a bit can help someone to understand their intake and their needs, but I don’t think this is a method that should be followed forever. My ultimate goal is to always help people learn how to eat instinctually.

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How Does It Work

Macronutrients are counted by first determining your total caloric need which will factor in age, weight, activity level and goals. From there the total caloric need is divided into macronutrient groups: carbs, fats, and proteins.

Depending on your goals, certain ratios of macronutrients are more beneficial than others. For example, someone eating to build muscle mass will want to ensure they achieve a calorie surplus, with a significant percentage of calories from protein over fats. In contrast, someone following the keto diet would be getting most of their calories from fat and very few from carbohydrates, changing their macro ratios to prioritize fats.

The Downside

Beyond the constant need to count and measure everything you eat, the downside to macros is that most of the “macro calculators” people use are largely inaccurate based on individual needs. If you are considering macros, I highly recommend you work with someone who can take into consideration your specific needs, body and goals and not rely on an internet calculator or self-taught coach. Also, beware of all the “macro” products on the market today which are often processed foods with appealing labels.

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