Macros are incredibly important especially when training towards a significant goal that involves fat loss or gaining lean muscle mass. This article is part one in a series on macro and micronutrients.
In future articles we will go more in depth on how to count macros, meal plans around macros, and intermittent fasting while counting macros, as well as any questions you guys have.
Today we are focused on the basics. Macros 101 if you will.
What is a Macro?
Macro stands for macronutrient. Nutrients that provide your body with energy (calories). Macronutrients are needed in large amounts while Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) are needed in much smaller doses.
There are 3 macronutrients:
Why does a macro matter?
Having a macronutrient target, and tracking it for a period of time can help you hit your goals. You’ll have targets for hitting proteins, fats, and carbs.
As your progress towards your goals (lose fat, or gain muscle) your macros may change.
Tracking macros is my favorite approach to dieting as it allows me to eat a wide variety of things that other diets would seriously frown upon.
While I’m counting macros I can have that burger I’m craving, or that cheesecake that looks great on the shelf at the coffee shop.
However you’re still restricted by quantifiable numbers. I aim to hit my macros at least 90% of the time. I allow myself more freedom while going out to social functions, and less freedom when I have a deadline to hit for a particular goal.
Currently I’m cutting so I’m sticking more within 95% of my goals and making sure that on a daily basis I’m within that margin of error.
Aim for being consistent, and don’t stress out about hitting your exact calorie mark.
Now let’s get into what each macro is
4 calories per gram
Protein is one of the essential nutrients to the human body. Protein is one of the body’s building blocks. It is extremely important for building muscle, maintaining muscle or preventing muscle loss while on a caloric deficit, immune function, energy if carbs aren’t available.
High protein diets are great for fat loss because they require your body to use more energy to digest each gram.
You’ll find protein in meat, dairy, protein powders, and smaller amounts in other foods such as nuts, or beans.
9 calories per gramFat while demonized for quite some time is also an essential nutrient is a source of energy for your body. Essential meaning your body absolutely needs fats to survive. Fat is awesome for your body’s hormone production, which helps your body build and maintain muscle. Fat also helps fat loss, brain function, even better skin, absorbing fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K,etc). Bacon wouldn’t taste as good without fats either.
Fat is extremely energy dense at 9 calories per gram.
Get your fats from meat like bacon, fish, nuts, oils like coconut oil, and more.
4 calories per gram
Carbs are not an essential nutrient in humans. You do not need them to survive.
However I love pizza, sandwiches, and carbs. Without carbs I wouldn’t have cheesecake. Without cheesecake what is life?
Your body does use carbs as an energy source and I recommend most of my clients include them in their macros. Fiber is also found in carbs especially fibrous fruits, veggies, and beans (the non digestible portion of carbs) and helps you poop or more sciency waste elimination.
You’ll find carbs in all the most delicious of foods like italian, cheesecake, et cetera.