This is a very common question that I get a lot. How close should I be to my macros? Within 5g, 10g...etc.
I think the most important thing that I want to point out is that consistency is key but also that macros are not meant to be these exact to the gram numbers that you obsess over. There is no one on the planet that can tell you for a fact that this amount of protein, carbs and fat is going to be the perfect distribution for your body and if you eat that, you will be good to go. No. Our body's just don't work like that. We are also not robots. We don't need the same thing everyday, but let's start with the original question. How close should you be?
Honestly, I always say to stay within 5g just as a general guideline. The purpose of macros is not that you are hitting individual grams but that you are recognizing that you can add variety into your diet, and that everything has a protein, carb and fat amount that you can track. It allows flexibility and variability into your day when some are so stuck in the mind frame of "good foods and bad foods." This is NOT about obsessing over food, but rather about giving you guidelines and a target to hit so that you know how to make adjustments if needed. However, if you are someone that has big goals and you are really trying to lean out, then the more exact that you are and the more consistent that you are, the better your results are going to be.
I always say to just structure a plan for your day that fits into your numbers and keep that as a backbone. If you have a change in plans or if you want to go out to eat, then that's no problem. You can restructure your day but it just gives you a nice starting point. You can make adjustments from there.
I also mentioned that our body's are not robots and that we need different amounts every day. Does this mean that you should eat different amounts every day? It all depends on your goals. If you are trying to cut, then most likely you have a set amount of macros that you are to eat, and unless you have some form of refeed day (which really has no literature or real utility) then you are going to be eating the same amount every day and that's the correct way for the cutting goals that you have. It gives you exact bench marks of where to hit. If you are an athlete, specifically an ironman athlete, then you are going to want to have differing amounts on different days based on the workouts that you have.
At the end of the day, you need to be consistent. If you are not seeing results, you probably need to hit those goals closer. It's all about trial and error, and figuring out what works for you. For example, you may realize that you do really well on a low fat, high carb diet (that's the way that I am and many other athletes are) and you may find the exact opposite (high fat, low carb). The truth is that bioindividuality is very real. What works for me is not going to work for you and vice versa. I wanted to touch on this topic and be super short and sweet about it because it's a question that I get a lot, and one that I thought I'd go ahead and address here even for those that may already know.
"DO I HIT MY CALORIES OR MY MACROS?"
They are the same thing!!! When you are hitting macros, you are hitting calories. I know that this in turn means that you are counting calories, and essentially the answer is yes but in a different way that makes it better. However, macros=calories because...
There are 4kcal/g in carbs & protein and 9kcal/g in fat. Therefore if you take the macros that you are given:
(4kcal/g x grams of protein) +(4kcal/g x grams of carb) + (9kcal/g x grams of fat) = Total Calories
You can do this backwards and use it for anything that you are calculating just by knowing those numbers so commit those to memory! :)
Hope this helps clear up some questions that anyone might have and I'll add it to my list of articles about macros for those starting up in the future!