What is Macronutrient Counting?

Lauren Cook
Lauren Cook
different types of macronutrients

Today, there are many ways to monitor our food intake. We can keep a food journal, follow traditional diets, and count calories or macronutrients. In keeping a food journal, we keep a log of all of the foods we’ve eaten. These journals are often used to see if there are any ways we can modify our diet to better suit our needs or to see if any one food is causing gastrointestinal distress. Traditional diets, such as a low-carbohydrate diet, a high-fat diet, or a gluten-free diet, can be used to monitor which foods we consume. Many of these diets are used to temporarily lose weight or treat illness.

In addition to these food journals and traditional diets, we can also count our calories or macronutrients or both. In tracking calories, we can keep a log of how many calories we eat each day. In counting macronutrients, we keep a log of the grams or percentage of each macronutrient. Counting macronutrients and calories can be combined with traditional diets and food journals, but don’t have to be.

So what are macronutrients? Macronutrients are essential nutrients we need to consume in large quantities in order to live. An essential nutrient is something our body cannot produce, so we need to get it from an outside source. The macronutrients we consume are protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Protein is the building blocks of our bodies. Consuming an adequate amount of protein enables us to grow when we are going through puberty, helps us to build strong muscles, and gives our hair and skin a healthy shine and glow. Good sources of protein are fish, meat, and eggs. Carbohydrates provide an energy source for the body. They enable us to run and play with our loved ones and go about our day without being fatigued. Carbohydrates can be found in breads, pastas, potatoes, oatmeal, and much more. Lastly, fat makes up the outer layer of all of our cells, helps to keep us warm from the cold, and provides a cushion for us if we ever fall. Good sources of fat are avocados, olive oil, and nuts.

Seeing how all of these macronutrients are vitally important to our well-being, it’s understandable why people choose to count them. Counting macronutrients can be done by either counting the grams or percentage of each macronutrient you have consumed. For example, someone’s goal may be to consume at least 60 grams of protein a day for sports-related goals. In order to do this, they would need to add up all of the grams of protein they consumed that day. If it was below 60 grams, they could plan to eat an extra egg or couple slices of turkey the next day. If it was over 60 grams, they could choose to skip the extra slice of bacon in the morning to bring down the amount of protein they consume.

On the contrary, someone could count their macronutrients by calculating the percentage of each macronutrient they want to consume. If someone would like to have a diet of 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% fat, they would need to keep track of how many grams of each macronutrient they’ve consumed and divide that by the total amount of macronutrients consumed that day. With either of these methods, the easiest way to count macronutrients is to download an app and log your food each day.

While counting macronutrients can be helpful, it can also be harmful. In today’s society, many people are already overly-conscious about the food they consume. Counting macronutrients can add to that anxiety and pose a potential threat to one’s mental health. Before starting any type of diet or counting macronutrients, one should consult their healthcare provider or Registered Dietitian.

Lauren Cook
Lauren Cook
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Hi! My name is Lauren Cook. I am a Registered Dietitian working in long term care by day and running a food and faith-based blog by night. I strive to help people live healthier and happier lives by helping them grow in their faith all while learning about food and eating healthy and delicious recipes. I reside in South Texas and love being with my friends, cooking good food, and watching 90 Day Fiancé.

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