Wanted to stop in today to talk about macros. You’ve probably heard about them, wondered if it’s another new fad diet, or maybe think is has something to do with computers. So what the heck are they? I’m going to explain them today…
Macros stands for macronutrients. These are nutrients your body needs to function. They are protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Simple, right? Let’s discuss what each macronutrient does and why it’s important…
Protein is used to build and repair body tissues and structures and can provide glucose for energy. Proteins are comprised of amino acids. There are 2 different kinds of amino acids that fuel our muscle repair; essential and non-essential. Non-essential amino acids can be manufactured by our bodies. Essential amino acids cannot be manufactured in the body and need to come from food. There are complete and incomplete proteins. In order for your body to use the consumed protein for muscle recovery, it must be a complete protein. A complete protein just means it has all of the essential amino acids in appropriate ratios. Sometimes in order to get a complete protein you must combine foods (i.e., yogurt and granola). This is because one or both of those foods are incomplete proteins and by combining them, they create a complete protein. If you are working out you need to make sure you have a sufficient protein amount in your diet. You lose out on a lot of muscle building potential by not consuming enough protein. Loss on muscle mass equals a lower metabolism which can stall fat loss. Protein also has a very high satiety rate. Meaning, it will fill you up more with fewer calories. A chicken breast will fill you up more than a donut will and it will likely have less calories and be more nutritious. (But even I still make room for donuts ;))
Fat is an alternative source of energy for our bodies as well as acts as a carrier for vitamins A, D, E and K. Fat gets a bad name because we think more fat in our diet equals more fat on our bodies. However, unsaturated fats help increase good cholesterol and a minimal amount of saturated fat can help satiety and hormone levels. Again, fat is more filling than carbohydrates, however, it is also more calorically dense than the other two macronutrients (9 calories per 1 gram of fat), so be careful when eating anything high in fat as it can add more calories than you may realize.
Carbohydrates are sugars that our bodies use for energy. Carbohydrates can be low or high glycemic. You want to try and have as many low-medium glycemic carbs as possible, so you can avoid your blood sugar from spiking and then ultimately crashing, which can lead to mood swings, headaches, and sugar cravings. I’m sure you’ve heard of ‘complex carbs’ vs ‘simple carbs’. What’s the difference? Complex carbohydrates are carbohydrates that contain polysaccharides. In simple terms, it’s foods like potatoes, some fruit, seeds, etc. It’s foods that usually have a starch component and contain fiber. Simple carbohydrates are things like table sugar, white bread, or foods that are broken down quickly in the body. Simple carbs are high glycemic and can spike blood sugar so you’ll want to try and limit them in your diet. Carbohydrate intake is always calculated after first calculating your daily protein and fat intake. Carbs get a bad rap because many people think eating bread will make them fat. Nope. Not true. Eating in a caloric surplus will cause your body to store fat. Not just eating bread. Carbs are needed for energy, and when the right carbs (ex: low glycemic) are paired with the right workouts can really fuel a heavy lifting session or endurance activity (ex: running a marathon).
So now that we know what each macro does for us, what’s the best approach to implement them into our diet? Once you figure out what you macro split is (this can vary wildly from person to person depending on fitness goals, body weight, gender, etc), you can track your food according to your macros instead of just simply caloric intake. It’s a great method for making sure you’re getting sufficient protein as well as limiting excess fat and carbs. We tend to eat too many carbs or too much fat and protein gets left out. Protein needs to be the focus when going for a fitness goal (fat loss, muscle gain, etc.). Many people like this approach vs just calorie counting because leaves room for treats. If you’re on a heavy lifting day (ex: leg day), and you want a donut, you can make that fit into your macros and have a donut guilt free!
Overall, these macronutrients are just one piece of the puzzle, but understanding their nutrient benefits to our bodies can help in fat loss, muscle growth, satiety, crushing cravings, etc.
If you have any questions about this, please feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time!