Counting Macros on an Animal-Based Diet

Counting Macros on an Animal-Based Diet

Do macros still count on an animal-based diet? Are you wondering whether you should count the macronutrients in your food while on a carnivore/animal-based diet or if you should skip doing it entirely? In this article, we’re exploring the topic of counting macros on an animal-based diet to help provide some clarity. 

  1. What is Macronutrient Counting?

Macronutrients are the three nutrients we consume in the largest amounts. The three macronutrients are carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Macronutrient counting is basically just the practice of counting how much of each macronutrient you’re consuming per meal and per day, as well as the ratios between these nutrients.

Macronutrient counting can be beneficial for people who want to lose weight and want to figure out how different macronutrient ratios affect their fat loss and body composition. It’s also beneficial for those who want to gain muscle and ensure they consume enough protein and calories to fuel muscle gain. 

Even if you aren’t worried about losing fat or gaining muscle, counting your macros (even if just for a while) can teach you a lot about diet, the nutrient contents of various foods, and what works best for you. Many people count their macros for a few weeks or months just to learn and then switch to eating intuitively armed with the knowledge they have. 

  1. What Are Some Examples of Macronutrient Ratios?

Someone on a low-carb diet will often track their macros to ensure that the majority of their calories come from fat and protein, and that they don’t consume a lot of carbs. Someone on a low-fat, high-carb diet might track their macros to make sure that they get most of their calories from carbs and that they don’t consume a lot of fat.

Macronutrient ratios are often worked out based on percentages. Here are a few examples:

  • Low-carb, high-fat (keto): 0% to 20% carbs, 10% to 40% protein, 60% to 90% fat
  • Low-carb, high-protein: 10% to 20% carbs, 40% to 50% protein, 30% to 50% fat
  • Moderate-carb diet: 25% to 35% carbs, 30% to 40% protein, 30% to 40% fat
  • High-carb, low-fat diet: 40% to 60% carbs, 25% to 35% protein, 20% to 30% fat

How to Determine Your Macros? 

There are many online macronutrient calculators that can give you a good estimate of what macronutrient ratios to aim for based on your goal. You can also take the number of calories you want to consume in a day (which a calculator or food-tracking app can also help you determine), and then work out your macronutrient goals with some simple math:

  • Take your calorie goal and then work out how many calories of each macronutrient you should aim for based on the macronutrient percentage ratios you’re aiming for. For example, if your goal is 40% fat, 40% protein, and 20% carbs, and you want to eat 2000 calories a day, then work out what 40% of 2000 calories is (800 calories) and 20% of 2000 (400 calories).
  • Once you have the calories per macronutrient, you can work out how many grams of each to eat a day with a little more math. A gram of fat has 9 calories, a gram of protein has 4 calories, and a gram of carbs has 4 calories. Simply divide the calories by the calories per gram of macronutrient to get the total grams for each. Based on our 2000-calorie goal and the macronutrients we chose:

    – 800 calories of fat divided by 9 = 88.9 grams of fat a day
    800 calories of protein divided by 4 = 200 grams of protein a day
    – 400 calories of carbs divided by 4 = 100 grams of carbs a day

If this seems too complicated, you can let your food-tracking app like MyFitnessPal, Fitbit, or Chronometer help you work out your macronutrient goals, or you can use an online macronutrient calculator. I like these ones:

What is an Animal-Based Diet?

An animal-based diet is a diet that mostly consists of animal foods. You will mainly eat meat, organ meats, eggs, dairy products, and possibly honey. The carnivore diet is a version of an animal-based diet, but being animal-based doesn’t mean you’re only limited to animal foods. 

On an animal-based diet, you can also include some plant foods in your diet, mainly focusing on plant foods that are low in antinutrients like fruit. Fruits you can eat on an animal-based diet include sweet fruits like bananas, apples, berries, and pears, as well as other fruits like olives, avocados, squash, and cucumbers with the seeds removed.

Plant foods that are high in plant toxins and are best avoided on an animal-based diet include leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, nightshade vegetables, and legumes.

A good way to remember it is that you want to avoid the leaves, stems, roots, and seeds of the plants.

Counting Macros on an Animal-Based Diet

You can pair macronutrient counting with any type of diet, including Mediterranean, keto, Paleo, plant-based, and of course, animal-based diets (although I don’t believe anyone should go vegan or plant-based). On an animal-based diet, you’re unlikely to follow a low-fat, high-carb diet. Instead, you’re either going to follow a high-protein, high-fat diet; a high-protein, moderate-fat diet; or a high-fat, moderate protein diet. Your carb consumption will depend on how much you want to consume in a day, but you’re very unlikely to be on a high-carb diet if you’re sticking to mostly animal foods. 

While you don’t need to count macros on an animal-based diet at all, it can be helpful if you want to ensure you don’t overconsume fruit and if you want to play around with your protein and fat ratios to see what makes you feel the best. Some people feel better with more fat compared to protein, some might prefer to eat more protein than fat, and others might prefer a 1:1 ratio.

I also believe that counting macros can help you ensure that you don’t consume too little fat. If you mostly consume protein (and possibly carbs), and you don’t consume nearly enough fat, it is very bad for your health. Not only will your health and hormone levels suffer as a result, but you’re also probably going to feel quite bad with this way of eating. 

People on low-fat diets often experience hormonal problems, a lack of energy, mood swings, fertility issues, and other problems like dry skin and hair loss.

Have you ever heard of rabbit starvation? It’s a form of malnutrition that’s caused by a lack of fat in the diet and when most of your calories come from lean protein sources. If you only consume lean meats, even though you’re eating, your body can still go into starvation mode. 

How to Count Your Macros?

The easiest way to count your macros is to use a food-tracking app like MyFitnessPal, the Fitbit app, and Chronometer. The long way to do it is to Google everything you eat and find out the macronutrient contents that way. 

If you eat anything that comes in a package (which you won’t really do a lot on an animal-based diet), study the label. Companies list the protein, carb, and fat contents of their food products, making it easier for those who count their macros. 

I hope this article has provided you with some clarity on counting macronutrients on an animal-based diet. As stated, you don’t need to count your macros on an animal-based diet, but you can if you want to use it to find the best way of eating for you, and just to learn a thing or two about nutrition. 

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