Sticking to a macro diet depends on having a good meal plan in place. “Planning ahead is always a good idea—this way, you can feel confident that you will more easily reach your goals for the day,” says Kelly.
Each day, you’ll want to eat about three meals and two snacks. That’s 21 meals and 14 snacks per week. Eating a balanced meal every 3 ½ to 4 hours will help keep your blood sugar steady, which helps prevent you from getting too hungry. And you’re more likely to cheat when you feel starved.
Choose whole foods, opting for lean proteins from organic sources whenever you can. Keep dairy products and sugars to a minimum to avoid empty calories.
1. Counting Macros for Weight-Loss
If you’re counting macros for weight loss, you’ll want to make sure you’re counting macros in such a way that you’re also cutting calories. Try this range of macro ratio for weight loss: 10-30% carbs, 40-50% protein, 30-40% fat.
Then adjust accordingly. If you’re very active, for example, you’ll need more carbs—450 grams per day if you exercise five days a week, for example.
2. Counting Macros for Bodybuilding
If you’re counting macros for bodybuilding and/or muscle gain, you’ll want to add overall calories to put on weight. Try this range of macro ratio for bodybuilding: 40-60% carbs, 25-35% protein, 15-25% fat.
It’s a misconception that bodybuilders need protein, protein and more protein. In fact, you can overdo it. And overdoing the fats can prevent you from gaining the muscle you want. Counting macros will help you get a handle on exactly how the foods you eat are affecting your results.
3. Counting Macros for Maintenance
If you’re counting macros for maintenance, you’ll want to stick to the amount of calories your body needs to sustain your current weight. Try this macro ratio range for maintenance: 30-50% carbs, 25-35% protein, 25-35% fat
4. Counting Macros for the Keto Diet
If you’re following the Keto diet—a low-carb, high-fat weight loss plan—you’ll want to consume the right balance of carbs, protein, and fat to keep your body in ketosis so it can effectively burn fat. Here is a common macronutrient range to maintain ketosis: 5-10% carbs, 15-30% protein, 60-75% fat (or even more)
Using macro counting to maintain a healthy weight is a good idea—this diet plan will keep you on track, choosing healthy, well-balanced meals, and keep you from feeling starved or having low energy. The great thing about maintenance is you don’t need to stress yourself out with exact measurements (of you don’t want to) or feel guilt if you have a meal that doesn’t completely meet your macros. You can make up for it with your next meal or the next day’s meals.
There are plenty of excellent resources for finding delicious macro diet recipes, such as The Macro Experiment or Bodybuilding.com’s Healthy Recipe Database, but you’ll also find easy clean eating and protein-packed snacks and meals on Cooking Light. Here are a few to try:
Fitocracy Macros is the only calorie app on the market that monitors macronutrients. Enter the amount of carbs, fats and proteins in a meal, name the meal for future reference, and find out how much your body needs for the rest of the day.
Fitocracy Macros tracks your eating history and provides you with weekly averages for macronutrient and total calorie consumption. This is a relatively new app, so it’s got some interesting upgrades in the works. Looking ahead, designers plan to add a macronutrient-oriented food database and the ability to track water, fiber and alcohol intake.
Coolest features: Accounts for rest days and training days and has full integration with Fitocracy app.
Downside: Without a food database, there’s a lot of manual input.
Free for iOS and Android