Let me be the first to tell you that understanding Macros is comparable to “winning the jackpot” when it comes to reaching your fitness goals. It’s a complete game changer. And the good news is, it isn’t nearly as complicated as it may seem.
If you want to impress your friends and family and contribute to the next conversation you are a part of surrounding this very topic, keep reading as I break down the ABCs of Macros for you in 5 simple steps.
What exactly are Macros? Macronutrients, aka “Macros”, are simply your Proteins, Fats and Carbs. They make up the foods we eat and are needed in large amounts in order to provide our body with energy (aka calories) on a daily basis. Macros allow our body to function properly and carry out activities of daily life. Certain food items are considered to be Proteins, others Fats and then there’s my personal favorite, Carbs. Some foods contain a little of each macro and are considered to be “combo foods.”
What is the function of each Macronutrient? Protein is responsible for several duties; primarily repairing and rebuilding tissues which includes, you guessed it, lean muscle tissue. Protein contains essential amino acids which are the “building blocks” for our muscles. This is not exclusive to muscle tissue but also includes skin, hair, nails, even the cells that line our intestinal tract. Protein also helps support immune function which can ward off illnesses. Our body must convert protein sources into essential amino acids. In order to ensure I am getting enough of the essential amino acids my body requires, I also supplement with REAAL EAAs which have been clinically proven to be 3x more effective than whey protein and 36x more effective than BCAAs at building and restoring lean muscle tissue! Carbohydrates are our bodies primary source of energy. This includes the cells of the brain. Last but not least, let’s talk about fats, which tend to get a bad rap. Healthy fats supply our body with fatty acids. These fatty acids must be consumed through the foods we eat as our bodies cannot make them, such as Omega-3 found in fish oil. Fats also aid in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins such as Vit A, D, E and K. They also help to protect vital internal organs.
What are some examples of Proteins, Fats and Carbs? One of the easiest ways to understand if a food source is considered a protein, fat or carb is to read the nutrition label. If the grams of one macronutrient are higher than the others, that is what it should be considered. For example, let’s say the protein grams in an item are quite a bit higher than carbs or fats, you would consider that food to be a protein source. Ideally, the majority of foods consumed per day will be whole foods. If there is no nutrition label to refer to, here is a list that you may find helpful.
Lean Protein Sources: chicken breast, turkey breast, extra lean ground beef, egg whites, fish, and dairy products such as cottage cheese and Greek yogurt.
Carbohydrates: fruit, potatoes, rice, oats, quinoa (also contains a good amount of protein), beans, whole wheat bread, starchy vegetables. When choosing carbohydrates, stick to complex carbs versus simple carbs such as sugar, sweets, juice, etc.
Healthy Fats: olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, natural peanut butter or almond butter, fatty meats such as salmon, and egg yolks.
How do Macros make up our Calorie Intake for the day? Most people would be able to give you a fairly close estimate of how many calories they consume from day to day. However, if asked how many grams of protein, fats and carbs one consumes per day, the majority have no clue. Simply put, Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats all contain calories. Protein and Carbs contain 4cal/gram. Whereas Fat, which is more calorie dense, contains 9cal/gram. For example, if a food item contains 20g of Protein, 80 calories would be derived from Protein. It’s simple math but helpful in understanding how food makes up your total calorie intake per day.
How do I know how many Macros to consume per day? This question is the most complicated to answer as not two individuals are alike when it comes to nutrition. Trying to copy a meal plan your buddy, neighbor, spouse, has will most likely not work for you. Hiring an online trainer or following a program like those offered on bodybuiling.com will be your best bet when it comes to figuring out what works for you. If you are looking for a general starting point, the 40/40/20 rule is a good place to begin. 40% of your calories should come from carbs, 40% from protein and the other 20% from fats. For example, if following a 2000 calorie diet, this would equal out to 200g protein, 200g carbs and 44g fat daily. I would also encourage you to document your daily intake using a macro tracker such as Myfitnesspal app.
In conclusion, the best thing you can do is familiarize yourself with macros. Stay consistent for at least a week and only adjust your macros if you aren’t making progress. And remember, progress is measured by more than just a number on the scale. Until next time, wake up each day reminding yourself to Be Strong & Courageous and Keep “Livin Fit”.
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