Tracking Macros

Authored by Laya Rajan and Robert Chen • 
November 17, 2017
 • 2 min read

The goal of this section of the guide is provide a general introduction to macro tracking and give you a simple plan to get on the right track in order to mesh with your diet and exercise goals.

Step 1: The Protocol

Your best macro breakdown will depend on your metabolic and exercise goals. Regardless of the target breakdown, we recommend tracking your daily input of each major macronutrient (carbohydrates, protein, and fat), as well as calories, on a daily basis. These can be computed either by yourself, or with any of the publicly available macro trackers, which come complete with food databases that allow you to look up the macro breakdown of common foods:

You could use any of these but we like MyFitnessPal the best because it has a robust database of foods including meals at restaurants. All of the above have large user bases and allow for users in the community to add foods to the database.

Other tools you'll need:

  • Food scale
  • Measuring cups
  • Excel spreadsheet for tracking macros (download here)

Step 2: Measurements to Track

We recommend breaking the day into 3 or 4 windows (breakfast/lunch/dinner; 6am-12pm, 12pm-6pm, 6pm-9pm, 9pm-12am) based on your schedule.

  • Window 1: Calories of C/P/F; Weight (g) of C/P/F
  • Window 2: Calories of C/P/F; Weight (g) of C/P/F
  • Window 3: Calories of C/P/F; Weight (g) of C/P/F

You should track both calories and weights for everything you eat. 1 gram of carbohydrates or protein contains 4 calories, while 1 gram of fat has 9 calories. It's helpful when you record your macros to note what foods you're eating so eventually you can plan meals without having to re-do calculations.

Step 3: Optimization

You should carefully track your macros in order to allow for fine tuning based on your health goals. Some examples of tweaks include:

  • if you would like to gain weight / mass faster (e.g., for sports), increase daily carbohydrate intake by 30g / day
  • if you would like to lose weight / mass faster, decrease daily carbohydrate intake by 50g / day. You could replace the calories with protein and fat (e.g., replace with 20g protein and 15g fat), or simply decrease the intake without replacing calories. We recommend first replacing the calories with protein and fat before cutting calories.
  • for anaerobic athletes (e.g., weightlifters, football players), if you feel you would like more energy during workouts, then consider increasing daily carbohydrate intake by 50g / day.
  • for aerobic athletes (e.g., cyclists, long distance runners), it is worth tapering towards a ketogenic diet, and assessing performance based on that. Even elite cyclists have managed to squeeze out up to 2% improved performance with a ketogenic diet and exogenous ketones1.
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