Macro Diet: A Simple Guide

Macro DIet

Macro dieting for weight loss can be an overwhelming topic to understand for someone starting out. The below guide will take you through the basics to help you understand what people mean by a macro diet. 

What are macronutrients?

Macronutrients, or Macros, are the key parts of all the food we eat, these are carbohydrates, proteins and fats. When we talk about having a balanced diet, we mean a diet which includes enough foods from each of these macro groups. A balanced meal for example may consist of 40% carbs, 30% fat and 30% protein. 

Our bodies use the macronutrients we eat as fuel; carbohydrates are broken down to provide energy, protein provides the building blocks for our cells and tissues and fat is needed for your body to absorb vitamins. It is essential that our bodies get enough of all three macros to make sure we are healthy.

Why is macronutrition important for dieters?

All diets work by eating less calories than the calories you use. This is called a calorie deficit and your body will burn your stored fat to make up the extra calories required. However, it is still really important that your body gets all of the macronutrients it needs.   

Many fad diets focus on eating this one amazing new food or switching to low fat / low carb / low protein foods. When the body is working under a calorie deficit with a diet that is not balanced it uses different tricks to keep your body going. For example, your body can only burn so much stored fat in a given time period and if you cut out too many calories it will start to burn muscle once it has burned all the fat it is able to. 

Similarly, Carbohydrates are used to create quick energy stores in the body. These emergency stores of energy are bound to water and when you use them all up your body sheds water weight. When you finish your restrictive diet, your body replaces these emergency stores and the water weight goes back on quickly.

Your body is an amazing machine and if you make sure it has what it needs then it will respond to your training goals. Whether you want to be lean & fit or big & strong, a macro diet is the only way to sustainably achieve your goal in a healthy way.

How to calculate a macro diet plan

We now understand what macros are and why our bodies need them so what’s the perfect ratio and how much of each macro should I be eating? The answer is that it depends on you.

The perfect amount of macros is going to be the one that suits your needs and goals, therefore, there isn’t a once size fits all amount. To work out what you need is a little complicated but I have written a step by step guide here for you to follow.

How can I count my macros?

Once you have worked out your macros and set your target calories for a sustainable deficit then you will need to count the macros in the food you eat. The great thing about the macro diet is that no food is not allowed as long as it fits into your macro targets.

What you will find is that you can adjust portion sizes, or change meals later in the day/week, to make sure that over time you are eating the right amount of macronutrients.

If you want to track your intake then I really recommend using the MyFitnessPal app (Apple, Android) –  its really easy to use and will help you get a better understanding the macros in the food you eat. You can quickly scan bar codes into it to record your meals, enter recipes by importing them from the web or just manually search for food or meals by entering them in. Plus, you can set your targets too. In the settings you can enter your calorie goals, macro percentages and even change your target sugar intake to keep on top of it.

Rotating your phone sideways or checking your nutrition at the bottom will show you how you’re doing against these each day. 


Disconnect / unsync your fitbit, garmin or whatever device you have from the myfitnesspal app. The default setting tracks the calories you have burnt and adds them to your daily intake. However, in working out our calorie and macro target goals we took into account our level of activity and this will lead to double counting!

What is it like to be on a Macro Diet

I count my macros to support my CrossFit training and will run a calorie deficit or surplus depending on my needs. For me, swapping to a macronutrient based diet rather than just trying to cut calories all the time meant I could stick to this as a lifestyle choice rather than just another fad. 

What Surprised Me

The biggest surprise was discovering just how much I could eat in a day! I used to just cut out food or skip meals and then spend all day trying not to give into temptation before finally eating way more than I needed and of the wrong things after caving in. On this diet plan though, I found that I actually struggled at the start to eat enough. When you start scanning in your food and finding out just how many calories are in the foods you chose, you quickly learn to swap those 3 biscuits for a whole roasted sweet potato that makes you feel full and satisfied. I now love being able to eat big plates of food piled high with chicken or fish and different vegetables rather than thinking I need to just sip on a bit of cabbage soup to look the way I wanted. 

Simple Swaps

I find that simple swaps make a big difference. For example, I often ate too much sugar which was mostly due to the amount of fruit and therefore glucose I was eating. Swapping from Saltana Bran to just Bran Flakes and having melon rather than raspberries in my yoghurt as a snack really helped and meant that rather than cutting out food, I was still able to eat just as much but of different food. 


I tend to snack a lot in the day so I quickly got into the habit of having my breakfast and scanning this into the MyFitness Pal app along with whatever I was intending to have for dinner that day too. This meant that I could then see how much I had left to play with in the day. I found that knowing I could have a morning and afternoon snack meant I stopped thinking about food so much in between meals and could just get on with my day rather than fretting about trying not to give into temptation. As I track my ratios throughout the day, I find it easy to swap out that piece of cheese I might have been planning to have for some ham to make sure I don’t go over my fat % and to book my protein intake. Having enough protein was a struggle at the start and that’s why I’ve started having a protein bar in the afternoon (or sometimes just half depending on how much I’ve already eaten!) To find out about my favourite Grenade Carb Killa bars check out my review page here


Finally, and perhaps most importantly, in terms of my training and performance, eating a more balanced diet meant I had SO much more energy. I’ve started to lift much heavier weights plus as my body weight dropped (even by only by a few kilograms) and my muscles got stronger, I could do much more body-weight exercises like pull ups and push ups. I definitely noticed a change in my physique as I got much leaner too. 


In conclusion, a macro diet is making sure that the food you eat gives your body exactly what it needs. 

When you want to use your diet to help make changes to your body to become more lean and lose weight then you adjust your calories down and make sure you are still eating the right ratio of the macros needed to achieve your goal.

A macro diet is not a quick fix but it is for people who want to achieve sustainable long term healthy results. 


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