If you're a fan of following wellness bloggers and fitness fanatics on Instagram, you've probably spotted this hashtag: #IIFYM. If you haven't, then you're about to see it everywhere. The hashtag stands for 'If It Fits Your Macros', and it's been used over 5 million times. See, it's pretty popular. But what, we hear you ask, does it all mean?
If you're pretty active and eating clean but not losing weight, you might want to try counting your macros instead. Macros is short for macronutrients, which are the protein, fat and carbohydrates, as well as some macrominerals, you consume on a daily basis. Micronutrients, on the other hand, are the vitamins and nutrients in these foods.
Otherwise known as flexible dieting, by tracking your fat, carbohydrate and protein intake no foods are off the menu, you just need to make sure what you do eat fits into your daily macro allowance. Keep scrolling to find out how to work out your macros and start tracking for dieting success.
To calculate your macros you first need to know what your daily calorie allowance should be. You need to be in a slight calorie deficit in order to lose weight—a healthy rate of weight loss is a pound per week. Freedieting.com has a handy calculator that can calculate your calorie allowance for you, here.
Remember these numbers
Now, of course you could just count your calories, but when it comes to losing weight the type of calorie you consume makes a difference. There are 4 calories in a gram of protein and carbohydrate, while fat clocks in at 9 calories per gram.
You need protein to help build lean muscle, increase satiety and help with fat loss. Carbohydrate is your energy source, so if you're exercising a lot you need to eat carbs. Lastly, fat is crucial for hormone production and cell maintenance (we all know omegas are great for skin) but you don't need to be mainlining avocados every day!
So before you calculate your own macros, remember that protein is key and should always stay the same but you can play about with your ratio of carbohydrates to fat. Carbs should be higher for active individuals, while you can go slightly higher in fat if you’re more sedentary.
Calculate your macros
You need 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.
Fat should be 0.3 grams per pound of bodyweight. Start with this number and see how you get on. You can go up to 0.5 grams of fat and deduct the difference from your carbohydrates, so you have some wiggle room.
Allot the rest of your calories to carbs.
Based on the Freedieting.com calculator, a 133 pound, 30-year-old woman who is 5 foot 2 inches and exercises 4 times per week would need to consume 1450 calories each day to lose weight.
133 x 1g = 133g protein
133 x 0.3g = 40g fat
There are 4 calories in a gram of protein and 9 calories in a gram of fat.
133 x 4 = 532 calories of protein
40 x 9 = 360 calories of fat
Add these together: 532 + 360 = 892 calories
There are 4 calories in a gram of carbohydrate.
Total calories 1450 – 892 = 558 calories of carbohydrates / 4 = 140g carbohydrates.
140g carbohydrate / 558 calories
133g protein / 532 calories
40g fat / 360 calories
Once you have calculated your numbers, you can eat the foods you want to as long as they fit your macros. You have the flexibility to have a chocolate bar, a doughnut or a slice of pizza if you want, as long as you can work it into your daily allowance.
The easiest tools for tracking your macros is the Fitocracy Macros App (free) that allows you to input the grams of macros you need and save foods you eat regularly to a library for easy tracking.
Calorieking.com is a great place to find out the macros of fresh foods—fruits and vegetables— that don’t always have nutritional information.
Packet foods will often display the grams of fat, protein and carbohydrates in the nutritional information panel.
It is trial and error, so if you don’t get the results you want, keep protein the same and alter your carbs and fats keeping within your allotted number of calories. As you lose weight, you’ll need to recalculate your macros based on your new body weight otherwise your weight loss will plateau.
If you find it hard to hit your daily protein intake, try Neat Nutrition Lean Protein (£34). It's gluten-, GMO- and hormone-free and contains antioxidant-rich organic matcha green tea.
Do you count your macros or are you interested in trying it? Let us know in the comment box below.