Why macro counting could be the key to midlife weight loss

“If it suits your macros” is a phrase you’ll typically hear bandied round for those who occur to hold round squat racks or the burden part of gyms. On social media it’s known as the acronym IIFYM

It refers to macro counting, the eating regimen favoured by health aficionados who calculate and monitor their best proportion of macronutrients – carbohydrate, protein and fats – to suit their physique’s wants. 

In her new e-book, The Macro Method, well being journalist Helen Foster is eager to show that macro-counting is not only for bodybuilders. In reality, it may very well be the easiest way to beat middle-aged unfold. The solely heavy lifting required is the maths concerned to work out your private health system (extra on that later). Once you’ve got your macro plan, you’re set for all times. 

“Macro counting is personalised to you,” she tells me from her residence in Sydney. “The equation used to calculate your macros takes into consideration your age, so it’s formulated to permit for the metabolic slowdown that happens if you begin to lose muscle mass [in midlife]. I do know one eating regimen doesn’t work for each individual, however I’ve tried almost every part and that is the one one which has caught, as a result of no meals is banned. I’m no dietary saint. I couldn’t comply with a eating regimen that didn’t let me drink alcohol or exit for a burger.” 

On the plan you’ll be able to eat and drink no matter you need (sparsely – “that is science, not a miracle” Foster jogs my memory) and nonetheless reduce weight by following the plan within the e-book, which Foster has co-authored with nutritionist Angela Dowden. The macro maths required is just a little arduous, but it surely’s definitely worth the effort; with the appropriate macronutrient steadiness, Foster and Dowden say you might lose 2lbs per week till you attain your required, wholesome weight.  

Foster found macro counting when she was recovering from an harm that left her unable to train and “the burden piled on.”

“I had tried [the keto diet] earlier than, however I couldn’t dwell on it… I simply wished one thing that allowed me to counteract this large change in my life that was taking its toll on my well being, with out sacrificing what I like, which goes out with pals or my associate.” The macro methodology ticked these containers.

As Foster highlights, neither the idea of macro counting itself nor the calculation is new, however what The Macro Method does is package deal it up for a mainstream viewers, and (barely) simplifies the calculations. But beware: there’s nonetheless a good quantity of math concerned. 

Contrary to first impressions, a macro eating regimen is not just glorified calorie counting. Dowden, who formulated the e-book’s 21-day plan, says a “qualitative, relatively than quantitative” method is what units the macro methodology other than different eating regimen plans. “While energy are essential, and there is not any shying away from that, this focuses on the standard of your eating regimen. 

“A calorie is not only a calorie by way of well being, starvation and the way satiated you’ll really feel,” she explains. “Your physique metabolises 200 energy of hen and 200 energy of chocolate in very other ways because of the macronutrients they include.” While analysis reveals calorie managed diets end in comparable weight reduction no matter which macronutrient they include, the macro methodology has been designed not just for weight reduction, however to eat properly for all times. 

The calculation to work out your private macros takes your basal metabolic fee (the variety of energy you burn at relaxation), multiplies it by your exercise degree and provides you the number of calories you need to eat each day to satisfy your aim. This determine is then translated additional right into a personalised macro system which tells you the day by day grams of carbohydrate, protein and fats to purpose for. 

The macro ratio Foster and Dowden recommend is 30:40:30; 30 per cent of your day by day energy ought to come from protein, 40 per cent from carbohydrates and 30 per cent from fats. This information – consistent with most wholesome consuming plans – was chosen primarily based on proof {that a} eating regimen excessive (however not too excessive) in protein helps curb urge for food and supplies a small metabolic enhance. 

Once you’ve got your personalised system, it’s time to place your macros on a plate and (a minimum of initially) you will want to weigh out every part you eat. This may also be lots simpler for those who plan your meals upfront, so you’ll be able to tweak the macros accordingly. 

Foods don’t usually include carbohydrate, protein or fats in isolation, so they’re labeled by their dominant macronutrient. For instance, an 85g fillet of salmon is classed as a protein meals as a result of it accommodates 17g of protein and 5.3g of fats. These add as much as your day by day totals. 

The calculations could be offputting, and the authors admit that originally it looks like numerous work. But the e-book’s overriding message is to make use of macro counting as a information relatively than a gospel: “We speak concerning the legislation of frequent sense – when you do should be particular, don’t get too obsessive about the numbers,” says Foster. Dowden provides: “What we wished to do is carry [macro counting] into the mainstream and say it’s okay for those who solely use it as a information as a result of it is going to nonetheless level you in the appropriate path.” 

How to calculate your macros

  • Calculate your basal metabolic fee utilizing the Mifflin-St Jeor system. 

       For males: BMR = 10 x weight (in kg) + 6.25 x top (in cm) – 5 x age + 5 

       For ladies: BMR = 10W + 6.25H – 5A – 161 

  • Add in your exercise degree. If you’re sedentary, multiply your BMR by 1.2; for those who’re calmly energetic, multiply it by 1.375; for those who’re reasonably energetic multiply it by 1.55; for those who’re very energetic multiply it by 1.725.
  • Calculate the energy you’ll want to meet your aim. If you wish to preserve your weight, numbers one and two are all you want. However, if you wish to reduce weight, multiply the determine from quantity two by 0.8.
  • Determine your macros. Start with the ratio 30:40:30 (calculate 30 per cent of your day by day energy for protein, 40 per cent for carbohydrate and 30 per cent for fats).
  • Convert to grams of meals. The ultimate step. Protein and carbohydrates include 4 energy per gram, so divide your whole energy for these by 4. Fat accommodates 9 energy per gram, so divide your whole for fats by 9. This ought to offer you a complete, in grams, for every macronutrient.

A day on the macro methodology

This is calculated utilizing an instance macro breakdown of 103g protein, 138g carbohydrate and 48g fats. Adjust this to suit your private system. It’s unlikely you will want to subtract from it, however you could want so as to add in snacks to take you as much as your whole. 


1 serving nutty granola (recipe under), 150ml semi-skimmed milk and 80g berries of your selection


Butter bean and vegetable soup (recipe under), 40g slice of sourdough bread (or one other wholesome sort you like) and 40g beef jerky 


Artichoke and rocket papardelle (recipe under) with 175g grilled skinless hen breast


Nutty granola

Makes 10 servings

Protein 8.8g

Carbohydrates 17g

Fat 14g

  • 200g (7oz) rolled oats
  • 50g (2oz) wheatgerm
  • 50g (2oz) sunflower seeds
  • 25g (1oz) sesame seeds
  • 50g (2oz) pumpkin seeds
  • 50g (2oz) complete almonds
  • 50g (2oz) hazelnuts
  • ½ teaspoon floor cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon floor combined spice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  1. Mix all of the substances collectively in a big bowl.
  2. Weigh the granola combine, then measure out what you want for the subsequent day or two (i.e. one or two servings). Add this amount to a big, nonstick frying pan and dry-fry for 1-2 minutes till calmly toasted.
  3. Store the remainder of the granola combine in an hermetic container, the place it is going to preserve for as much as a month. You must cook dinner it in batches as, as soon as nuts are heated, they may solely keep contemporary for a day or two. You also can soak one serving of the granola combine in 150ml (5fl oz) milk in a single day for those who don’t really feel like dry-frying it. (Don’t neglect so as to add the milk to your macros for those who select this selection.)

Butter bean and vegetable soup

Serves 4

Protein 8.4g

Carbohydrates 19g

Fat 6.3g

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 celery stick, sliced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 leek, trimmed, cleaned and sliced
  • 600ml (20fl oz) vegetable inventory
  • 400g (14oz) can chopped tomatoes
  • 400g (14oz) can butter beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
  • 30g (1oz) Parmesan cheese, grated, to serve
  1. Heat the oil in a big saucepan, add the smoked paprika, celery, carrots and leek and cook dinner over a medium warmth for 3-4 minutes till the greens are barely softened.
  2. Pour over the inventory and tomatoes and add the butter beans and rosemary. Bring to the boil, then cowl and simmer for quarter-hour or till the greens are simply tender. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve.
  3. Store any additional parts within the fridge for 2-3 days or freeze in particular person pots for snacks or to make use of later.

Artichoke and rocket pappardelle

Serves 2

Protein 16g

Carbohydrates 68g

Fat 16g

  • Oil, for frying (any sort will do)
  • 150g (5½oz) artichoke hearts in oil
  • (drained weight)
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 100ml (3½fl oz) dry white wine
  • 50g (2oz) creme fraiche
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 small lemon
  • 50g (2oz) rocket leaves
  • 240g (8½oz) contemporary pappardelle
  1. Brush a frying pan with the oil and warmth. Add the artichokes and garlic and cook dinner gently for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the wine to the pan and cook dinner till decreased by half. Stir within the creme fraiche, lemon zest and juice, and the rocket. Cook, stirring, till the rocket has wilted.
  3. Meanwhile, cook dinner the pasta in a big saucepan of calmly salted boiling water for 3-4 minutes, or in keeping with the packet directions, till al dente. Drain and return to the pan.
  4. Stir the sauce into the cooked pasta and toss properly.

The Macro Method by Helen Foster and Angela Dowden (£9.99, Aster) is out now. Order your copy from books.telegraph.co.uk or name 0844 851 1514

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