If you’re like me, you’ve looked people straight in the eyes when they asked, “What are the macros for that recipe?” and acted like you knew exactly what they meant. But you really didn’t. It’s okay! Not everyone is well versed when it comes to macronutrients, or macros. However, you can learn and become adept at nutrition tracking, allowing you to eventually help others track macros, even for dairy-free diets. Here’s how.
For the basics on balancing macronutrients, check out: The Rule of Three—A Guide to Healthy Eating
Understand What Macronutrients Are
When people refer to macros, they’re talking about the mix of carbohydrates, fat, and protein in their diet. If you track macros, you might see something like this: 30/10/60. That means the meal is 30% carbohydrates, 10% fat, and 60% protein. Another fact to know is that carbohydrates and protein each have 4 calories per gram, while fat has 9 calories per gram.
Why Track Macros?
Many people count calories to lose weight. But recently, people have determined it’s more useful to track macros, because it’s more specific when it comes to breaking down foods into percentages of protein, carbs, and fat. Therefore, this method can help you zero in on your nutrition goals even more than when you just count calories. According to triathlete (and great friend!) Moe Elkadri, “The importance of counting macros is to identify the mix that is specific to your goal (such as losing weight, gaining muscles, endurance athlete, etc.). Depending on your goal, the ratio of protein, fats, and carbs could be important, especially if you’re looking for body composition changes.”
If you’re interested in more tips on improving your health, check out: 6 Things You Need to Stop Doing Right Now To Be Healthier
How To Track Macros Without Dairy
If you’re lactose intolerant, you might have trouble getting the right mix of macros. After all, many people get a lot of their daily fat from milk, cheese, and other dairy products you can’t have when you’re sensitive to lactose. This just means you’ll have to look elsewhere for fat as you track macros. For example, you can get some healthy fat from nuts and avocado. If you’re missing protein in your diet—as many people get lots of their daily protein from cow’s milk—switch to a dairy-free milk substitute that has about the same amount of protein. Of course, you can simply increase your intake of other high-protein foods, such as meat, eggs, peanut butter, and beans.
How to Start Tracking Macros
If you want to track macros, you’ll need some equipment. This includes a food scale, calculator, measuring cups, and a calorie counting book that lists the nutrition information of most foods. Just be sure you don’t get caught up in only counting calories. After all, nutritionist Dina Griffin pointed out that counting calories is pretty useless, as it doesn’t paint a great picture of your nutrition as a whole. Athlete Michelle Hurn agreed, noting, “100 calories of cola has a profoundly different impact on your body than 100 calories of day-nuts or chicken or even apples.”
Whether or not you’re lactose intolerant, it may be time to try to track macros. You just might find that your nutrition and overall health will improve when you start calculating how much fat, protein, and carbohydrates you’re eating every day!
If your desire to track macros equates to a desire to get fit and lose weight, you’ll appreciate these tips: 13 Ways to Start Losing Weight and Getting Fit Tomorrow
More sources on tracking macronutrients:
To Macro or Not: Should You Track Your Macronutrient Intake?
From Here to Macros: 4 Steps to Better Nutrition
Beginner’s Guide to Macro Tracking