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The macro diet is an effective new diet gaining popularity, and major results.

Macro counting takes calorie counting one step further. Instead of counting general calories, you’re counting macronutrients. Specifically, you’re tracking proteins, carbs, and fats.

The macro diet allows for complete customization for individuals, and gives a better level of specificity based on your goals.

Better yet, this diet focuses on actual nutrition versus the amount of food you’re putting in your mouth.

Macro counting is the perfect diet solution when you’re looking for serious results but want to make smarter diet choices too. This new diet is so popular, it even has a hashtag. Check out #IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) to see the proof yourself.

We’re breaking down everything you need to know about the macro diet below. Get started, get healthy, and live a bigger, better life.

PS. There are a few things you’ll need to win at macro dieting. We’ve got you covered with this complete list.

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What is the Macro Diet?

The macro diet focuses on macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Macronutrients are the three types of nutrients that fuel your body with the most nutrients.

Your body also uses micronutrients, which are other nutrients your body uses in smaller amounts.

Foods typically have 2-3 macronutrients but are labeled as the one based on which category is most present. For example, chicken is a protein but it also has fat.

When we break down each macro we can see that they all provide unique and important functions.

Believe it or not, there are a ton of misconceptions about the macro diet. To help make things clear, we’ve got the top 6 macrobiotic diet myths explained.

Macronutrient Breakdown


macronutrients protein

When we think of protein we typically think of meat. While meats are a large part of what proteins are, there are also other options like eggs, tofu, fish, and lentils too.

Proteins do some pretty cool stuff in our body. They are critical for processes like immune function, building tissues, hormones, and enzymes, and also things like cell signaling.

Proteins provide about 4 calories per gram.


macronutrient carbohydrates

We all know (and usually love) carbs. When we eat carbs they are broken down into glucose. Glucose is either used for an immediate source of energy, or it’s stored as glycogen in your liver and muscles.

Carbs also provide about 4 calories per gram. Typically carbs are not a great choice for diets, and they are an often debated macronutrient.

The best advice we can give you is that when you see your recommended percentage of carbohydrate daily intake, don’t jump to stuff like pasta. The macro diet is definitely not recommending that you eat macaroni and cheese every day. And yes, we’re sure about that.

Instead, keep in mind that there are other healthier forms of carbs, like starchy veggies, beans, and fruits. See our full list of healthy carb options when you keep reading.


macronutrient fats

Fats usually get a bad rap, but they’re actually really important for your health.

Our bodies use fats for energy, hormone production, body temperature maintenance, and nutrient absorption among other things.

Fats provide about 9 calories per gram.

And again, to clarify, no one is asking you to binge eat some really unhealthy stuff. Healthy fats come in the form of avocado, nuts, butter and some meats and fatty fishes.

Why the Macro Diet Works

One of the best things about the macro diet is that it forces you to make better food choices. Instead of finding a low calorie snack that’s full of sugar, toxins and other crap, you have to eat foods that matter.

In the world of calories, an apple and a bag of chips could have the same amount of calories. Do you think a bag of chips is going to help you get healthier? Probably not. But an apple might.

See how the macro diet works?

Nutrient-dense food first, calories second.

It’s nearly impossible to binge on unhealthy food, because things like sugary bowls of cereal, or a bar of chocolate don’t have the right macronutrient makeup.

The macro diet helps you get healthier, but it can also help you reach the weight loss goals you’ve always dreamed of.

Another cool thing about the macro diet is that it’s not too restrictive. Because you can build your own macro ratio out of anything you want, as long as you’re hitting your macros, it’s actually pretty flexible.

A lot of macro lovers claim it’s the only diet they’ve actually be able to stick with long term.

The Macro Diet Puzzle

The only downside of the macro diet is that you may need to channel your favorite mathematician.

Filling your plate with a mixture of protein, carbs and fats seems pretty simple. But it gets a little complex when you need a particular ratio and each food item has multiple macros.

Calories are simple. You’re counting one number. Unfortunately aren’t as worthwhile as macros. So if you really want to do this health thing, go the little extra distance and go macro.

If the macro diet already sounds exhausting and you kind of hated high school math, think of it as a game instead. Get excited about finding the oh so perfect macro meal mix that’s perfect for you, and delicious.

Macro in Comparison

The macro diet takes bits and pieces of other popular diets you may have heard of.

It has similarities to the Paleo diet because it revolves around making smarter food choices. But it also has similarities to Weight Watchers because you’re tracking calories and staying within daily intake ranges.

The macro diet starts to differ because it’s not a blanket diet option. Your target macro ration is specific to you and your goals.

Your target macro ratio will differ entirely based on your current health situation, and where you’re trying to get. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, maintain your current sitch, or if you’re an athlete with specific goals, it’s adjustable.

The macro diet also takes into comparison the difference between men and women’s bodies. Women’s bodies typically require less caloric intake, and it’s believe that they need a smaller percentage of carbohydrates as well. The macro diet automatically adjusts for these differing needs by the calculation of your calorie and macronutrient needs, which is specific to each individual.

Before you get started with the macro diet, check out these 3 things you need to know.

Finding Your Ideal Macro Diet Ratio

Macro diet ratios are totally personalized. They depend on your age, size, and activity levels.

People who work out need different levels of proteins and carbs than someone who doesn’t exercise at all. We hope if you’re serious about getting healthy and leading a bigger life that you exercise at least a little bit, but hey, you gotta do you.

The macro diet is all about the ratio. You need proteins, fats and carbs, but how much of each?

Your first step is figuring out how many calories you should be eating in total.

Your Macro Diet Calorie Count

Knowing the right macro diet calorie count is just an important as knowing your macro ratio. Even if you know the percentage breakdowns of your macros, you could still be eating way too much, or way too little.

Your suggested daily calorie intake count is calculated based on your size, activity levels, age, and your health or weight loss goals. There are a lot of pieces at play here, so it’s easiest to use a calculator like the one at

Simply input your age, gender, current weight, height and your exercise levels.

free calorie calculator

Then, the calorie calculator breaks down exactly how many calories you should consume based on your goals. It will deliver your ideal calorie count based on three different categories:

  • Maintenance
  • Fat Loss
  • Extreme Fat Loss

Simply choose the option that meets your health goals and you’ve got a calorie count.

free calorie calculator sample results

Next up you’ll need to figure out how to break down that calorie count into the right macro ratio.

Your Macro Diet Ratio

You need the right percentage of these three macronutrients to optimize your bodily functions, you’re healthy, and your weight loss goals.

Now that you’ve got your ideal calorie count you can either do some choose a standard macro ratio breakdown, do some serious math, or use another free calculator from

We’re going to go ahead and recommend the free online macro diet calculator because duh, it’s easy.

free macro calculator

It works similar to the calorie calculator.

Just enter your calorie count, and how many meals per day you plan on eating. You can also select from a list of common macro ratios too.

Click calculate and you’ve got your macro ratio!

free macro calculator sample results

If for some reason we can’t understand you’re against using an online calculator, you can also use these beginner standard ratios too:

  • Exercise = 1 hour or less daily: 30% protein, 30% fat, 40% carbs
  • Exercise = 1-2 hours daily: 30% protein, 25% fat, 45% carbs

Healthy Macro Diet Food Choices

Finding the right food and meal options can be the hardest part about starting a new diet.

It takes time to figure out which foods are your friends, and which ones you can eat over and over again without getting burned out.

We’ve put together a quick healthy macro diet food options to get you going on this awesome diet.


Chicken, egg whites, turkey, lean red meat, salmon, mackerel, herring, cod, shellfish, protein powders, nuts, tofu, and lentils.


Whole gains, leafy greens, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, squash, green beans, onions, cucumbers, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, potatoes, peas, grains (oats, brown rice, quinoa), fruits (berries, bananas, pineapple, apples), and some dairy products.


Avocado, egg yolks, nut butters, full-fat milk, full-fat yogurts, full-fat cheeses, flaxseeds, chia seeds, coconut oil, almonds, olive oil, almonds, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, butter, meats, and fatty fishes (salmon and sardines).

Macro Diet Meal Planning

macro diet meal planning

As with most diets it’s best to meal plan in the beginning. Meal planning helps you stay prepared and less likely to fall victim to temptations.

If you follow the typical macro diet plan you’ll need about 3 meals and two snacks per day. If you’re meal planning on a weekly basis that puts you at 21 meals and 14 snacks.

It may feel like snacking is actually adding more food into your diet, but eating healthy foods regularly keeps your blood sugar steady. It also prevents you from getting too hangry and cheating your plan.

Macro Diet Meal Planning Tips

These tips will make your meal planning experience a little easier:

  • Shop and prep on the weekends. Plan out exactly what you’ll need for you macro diet meals and snacks. Get your shopping done and then prep everything you can in advance. When Monday morning rolls around you’ll be ready to roll.
  • Buy in bulk. As you experiment with macro meals you’ll find favorites. Once you find something you’ll love, start buying in bulk. This will help you prep more at once and save money at the same time.
  • Invest in a good storage system. You’ll be prepping a lot of food in advance, so you’ll need somewhere to store it. Get a set of food storage containers so you can keep all your hard prep work fresh. We like this set because they’re affordable, clear, and come in a variety of sizes so you can maximize fridge space.
  • Get rid of temptations. Before you stock up on your perfectly portioned meals, go through the kitchen and dump anything that won’t help you stay on track. Whether it’s chips, chocolate, candy, desserts, it’s not going to help you reach your ideal health goals.
  • Use a macro diet app. Let technology be your macro counting friend. There are several popular macro diet apps that make keeping track of your intake and ratios easy. We list out a few of our favorites below.
  • Add some extra flavor. Eating the same healthy meals over and over can get boring. Incorporate fresh herbs and spices into your meal to mix things up and keep yourself interested. Getting burned out on your food choices is a sure way to fail at the macro diet.

The Best Macro Diet Apps

Calculating your personal macro diet choices might seem a little overwhelming. If you already feel like you’ve got a major headache but you really want to see macro results, consider using a macro friendly app to help you out.

We’ve compiled the top 10 macrobiotic diet apps you need. On a tight budget? Try these 5 totally free macrobiotic diet apps instead.

These are a few if the most popular apps that can help log your macros and keep track of your daily intake for you:

My Macros+

my macros+ app screenshots

My Macros+ is one of the only apps dedicated solely to the macro diet. Other calorie counting apps have started included macro features, but it’s more of an afterthought. This app lets you specify your goals and it’s only $2.99 to download.


myfitnesspal weight loss app screenshots

MyFitnessPal is one of the most popular food tracking and calorie counting apps there is. The app is free to download but macro dieters will need to purchase the premium edition use macro specific features.


MyPlate calorie counter app

The MyPlate app is a food tracker that’s free to download. Macro counters can see their breakdown in both grams and percentages without having to splurge on the upgraded version.

Lose It!

Lose it! weight loss app screenshots

This calorie tracker has been around forever, and their premium subscription allows for macro counting with specific targets. They also have other cool features like a DNA testing option to integrate with your personalized insights.


lifesum calorie counter diet app

Lifesum is a general health app that has diet plans and recipes, but it also shows your daily macro counts and allows you to set a macro goal. The app is free, but to access macro tracking you’ll have to pay the premium fee.

Macro Diet Gear

Counting macros can sound daunting but the right gear always makes everything easier.

Check out the following macro diet gear to make your experience seamless, and super successful.

Macro Diet Books

When you’re starting a new diet it’s never a bad idea to add some light reading to the docket. Reading the background on a particular diet, like the macro diet, can help you fully understand the history, the parameters, and why it works.

If you’re in it for the weight loss, it can also be inspiring to hear other first hand accounts of something that worked. We’ve added a few of our favorite macro diet books below, and you can also check out this full guide for the best weight loss books to inspire results.

The MacroNutrient Diet

This read gives you the complete DIY guide to losing weight with the macro diet.

macronutrient diet macro diet book

The Everything Guide to Macronutrients

This macro nutrient book is a complete guide for the macro diet and includes recipes too.

everything guide to macronutrients macro diet book

IIFYM Flexible Dieting Bodybuilding Guide

The IIFYM flexible dieting book talks the macro diet from a bodybuilding approach.

IIFYM flexible dieting body building guide

Macro Diet Food Storage Container Set

food storage container set

A food storage container set will help you stay organized, meal plan, and stay on track. We like this clear container set because it’s easy to see what’s in the fridge, and it comes in a variety of sizes so you can maximize fridge space.

Food Scale

etekcity digital kitchen food scale

A food scale will help keep counting macros easy in the beginning of your macro diet journey. After a while you should get used to common portions and what they’re average weight is, but this will help you get started. We love this food scale because it has a removable bowl option for measuring liquids or foods that are tough to put on a flat surface as well.

Protein Supplements

If you’re struggling to hit your protein macro intake, you may want to consider adding a protein supplement to your diet. This is a cost effective way to hit your percentages without having to force feed yourself chicken all day.

Health Expert

This certainly isn’t a must, but many people recommend meeting with a health expert to consult on your macronutrient diet. They can breakdown the right macro ratio for your exact health makeup and goals. They can also work as a resource when you have questions or get stuck.

The macro diet is a super flexible, individualized, and non-restrictive diet that helps you focus on nutrient-dense food instead of just counting calories. While it may take a little bit more work upfront, if you can really commit to learning the diet and hitting your macros, you can see outstanding health results that help you lead a bigger, better life.

Still not sure? Check out these 6 macrobiotic diet myths explained.

Having trouble seeing the weight loss results you always wanted? Check out the best weight loss books to inspire results, and the ultimate guide to weight loss apps.

macro diet beginners guide