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Direct Macros Explained

I've found that clients often times have a hard time grasping the differences between direct macros, total macros, and WHY I want them tracking direct macros. I recently stumbled across a video, that paired with this post, may help you to understand why my diet programs detail direct macros instead of total macros. If reading isn't your thing you can skip to the bottom of the page to watch the video. However, some context needs to be applied so I suggest at least skimming through the article.

With direct macros, only protein from high quality protein sources like chicken, fish, and beef are counted towards daily intake. The protein from things like rice, potatoes, and oats are not counted as they are not high quality complete protein sources. Same thing for the other macronutrients, fat and carbs. I do not factor in the the fat content from oats as oats are carbohydrate source (not a fat source) and though they contain some fats…those fats are not of a high quality.

So when I design my diets it is my intention that if your plan calls for 30g of protein at meal 1 that the 30g of protein is coming entirely from chicken (or any combination of high quality protein sources) instead of 25g from chicken and 5g from rice, for example. Additionally, chicken comes with a few grams of fat but I do not count that fat towards your fat macros as I want to make sure that we are adding primarily high quality healthy fats to the diet.

Calorie tracking apps like Myfitnesspal are not set up to differentiate macronutrients in this way and as such many of you have noticed that when you input your diet into the app the calorie and macro nutrient totals are higher than what my program details. This is because Myfitnesspal is calculating TOTAL macros, not direct macros.

When tracking flexibly in Myfitnesspal it is important that you do it in a particular manner. Let’s use the below macro goals as an example:

M1 30g P 50g C 10g F

Protein is logged and tracked first. Select a high quality lean protein source and adjust the serving size to hit 30g protein. Next, carbs. Same thing, select a carb source and adjust the serving size to hit 50g of carbs. Now at this point we’ve got our protein and carbs logged and with that has likely come some trace fats. Maybe the protein portion yielded 2g of fat and the carb portion yielded 1g of fat. So this meal has 3g of fat at this point but we still need to ADD 10g of fat from a healthy high quality fat source as the fat macros in my program are added fats. This is why using LEAN protein sources and unprocessed carb sources in my diet program are essential. If you are using fatty protein or processed carb sources that include high(er) amounts of fat you may cross a line where you need to count that fat towards your added fat macros, and that gets tricky. In that case, I usually recommend that if a food has more than 6g of fat per serving that the fat is counted towards your fat macros for that meal and in total for the day.

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