[Watch or listen to the video at the bottom] You’ve probably heard of macros. Counting macros is super popular right now as a way of tracking nutrition and working towards your goals! A lot of body builders track macros because it’s a way to be much more time specific while cutting or bulking to lose fat or gain muscle for their on or off season. If you’re not working towards a competition, you probably don’t need to track macros- unless it’s something that you enjoy and works well for you! I personally don’t track them, for me it’s way too tedious and makes me a little crazy. Either way this post isn’t meant to discourage or encourage it as a nutrition preference, just to explain the basics of what macros are! We all have different things that work best for us! The important thing is that you enjoy a way of eating that’s good for your goals and sustainable for you because it doesn’t feel miserable or restrictive!
Anyways, macros! What are they?
Protein, carbs & fat are the 3 macro nutrients found in food. They’re called macro nutrients because we need them in large quantities. This is opposed to micro nutrients that we don’t need in the same bigger quantities but are also very important! Micro nutrients are going to be your vitamins & minerals.
Macro nutrients are what fuels our body. We need them to live and perform daily activities and just to function in general. This is where we get our calories from! Different macro nutrients have different amounts of calories per gram, here’s how they break down:
Protein: 4 Calories per Gram
Carbs: 4 Calories per Gram
Fats: 9 Calories per Gram
This is something that’s good to know! When a food is composed mainly of fat like an avocado or nuts, it’s naturally going to be a higher calorie food because fats are naturally higher in calories. It’s important to note that this doesn’t make a food unhealthy! It just helps us to understand why a serving of nuts is so small! 😀 The composition of the food has a lot to do with it. For example, nuts that are mainly fat and no water content vs broccoli which is mostly carbs macro nutrient wise but has a high water content are going to have a very different caloric value. Broccoli is going to be significantly lower because of the 2 factors mentioned above.
Calories per gram is also how someone calculates the amount of a certain macro they will be eating in their diet. For example:
Generally if you’re counting macros, someone or something figured it out for you or gave you some info on what you need according to whatever information and goals you gave them or it. But, just so you have a basic understanding of how these numbers are calculated, here we go with a fun example in my least favorite subject.. math!
If my goal is to hit these macros: (this is a random example just using easy numbers)
100 g protein
200 g carbs
50 g fat
I could figure out the amount of calories I needed in a day to hit those with some simple math.
100 g protein x 4 cal per gram = 400 calories
200 g carbs x 4 cal per gram = 800 calories
50 g fat x 9 cal per gram =450 calories
add them up for a full day = 1850 calories
You can also work from the other direction. If a coach, macro calculator, etc told you that you need 1850 calories in a day with 50 % from carbs, 20% from fat and 30% from protein (but for some odd reason didn’t give you the exact numbers to hit :D) you could figure that out too!
30% of 1850 = 555 calories from protein. Divide that by 4 calories per gram and you need 138.75 grams from protein
50% of 1850 = 925 calories from carbs. Divide that by 4 calories per gram and you need 231.25 grams from carbs
20% of 1850 = 370 calories from fat. Divide that by 9 calories per gram and you need 41.1 grams from fat
Ok, so these again are random examples just to show how it all works and generally someone or something figured it out for you! You can see how it can become a little bit tedious to keep track of or calculate if you were doing it yourself though!
Ok, so a simple break down of macros so you know the basics. Maybe that last part wasn’t super simple but it’s also not something that someone is going to ask you to do!
What’s important to remember about these macros is that all of them have a place in a well rounded, nourishing diet! We need each macro nutrient in some amount to function optimally. Even when someone is on a ‘low carb’ diet, they are still getting carbs from veggies and some fruits. What they are cutting out is processed carbs like bleach flour breads and pasta that have no nutritional value.
Ideally you’re eating a diet full of nourishing foods that supplies quality macros and micros. This is going to be non or minimally processed whole foods. No matter how you choose to eat, intuitive eating, keto, macros, paleo, each style agrees on that! Find your balance between treat foods and foods that help you work towards your goals and nourish your body!
I hope this was helpful for youu!
Sweat, Smile, Repeat!