What are "macros" and how can they help you achieve your goals?
"Counting your macros" has become a hot topic in nutrition. If understood correctly and followed consistently, this principle can be a helpful tool in achieving your goals.
First, we need to understand what a macronutrient (macro) is and why our bodies need them and how they are used by our bodies.
There are three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrate and fat. Our bodies require these compounds in large amounts. We obtain these compounds from the food that we consume. All of the food we eat is made up of protein, carbohydrate and fat. Most foods are a combination of all three of these macronutrients, in varying amounts. Some foods only contain one or two of these macros and the amounts of these macros greatly vary by food. By understanding what foods contain what macronutrients, you can make educated food choices to reach your goals.
For example, a banana is almost entirely carbohydrate at approx. 23g and only 1g of protein and 0.3g fat. An avocado, is almost entirely fat at approx. 15g (per 100g) plus another 9g of carbohydrate and 2g fat. Egg whites are almost entirely protein - packing 7g per 1/4 cup without any carbohydrate and fat.
What do they do?!
PROTEIN are compounds that contain carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. They are 3D structures formed by linked chains of amino acids and are used by the body for growth, repair and recovery. Protein provides the necessary amino acids (the building blocks of protein) for muscle proteins to repair and fuel the many metabolic processes of our body. Protein is also vital to maintain the immune system, manufacture hormones and enzymes and replace the red blood cells that carry oxygen to the muscles.
CARBOHYDRATES are compounds that contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. They are fast burning sources of energy and are broken down into glucose (the main source of fuel for our cells). Carbohydrates are necessary in providing energy to our body. They are super important in order to fuel add re-fuel training by providing energy for our muscles. There are different types of carbohydrates, each with varying roles in our body.
FATS are compounds that contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. They are dense sources of energy that help fuel the cells in our body, keep us feeling satiated and help to maintain hormonal balance. Fats are the primary energy source at low intensity exercise and a higher fat diet proves to be beneficial because the body becomes more efficient at burning fat for fuel while sparing glycogen (carbohydrate source). The most common and abundant type of fat in the body are fatty acids and are classified based on their chemical structure/level of saturation.
Remember: the food we eat is made up of protein, carbohydrate and fat - these nutrients ultimately determine the calories of food. A calorie is a unit of energy & how we fuel our body.
Being aware of the amounts of protein, carbohydrate and fat we consume is very important to our health, performance & weight goals.
How do we know how much we need?!
Everyone's needs vary based on body composition, activity level, metabolism, autoimmune diseases and overall goals. We have provided our general recommendations below but do recommend working with a nutritionist or dietician to better aid in your individual needs and goals.
Some examples: if your goal is to lose weight: one tactic is to decrease the amount of carbohydrate. One more common way to do this is to aim to follow a ketogenic diet: you need to increase fat consumption and greatly decrease carbohydrate consumption for your body to produce ketones & change how your body burns its'. If you are looking to gain muscle, it is helpful to increase protein intake. This can be done through supplemental shakes or overall food increase.
These are our general guidelines but we would be happy to help you get started and refer you to one of our nutritionists or dieticians to set-up a personalized plan.
Just contact us to chat further.
Our general macro recommendations
0.8g - 1g per lb. of body weight
1.5g - 2g per lb. of body weight
0.5g - 1g per lb. of body weight
Remember: consistency is key. There are many helpful apps and resources to help you track your food and macronutrients. We like using MyFitnessPal - plus, all of our meals are inputted into the MyFitnessPal database for easy tracking.
The goal is to better understand the components of your food, and ultimately your diet, so you can best make eating decisions to suit your goals and lifestyle.
You can find the calorie and macronutrient information for all of our meals online & on our meal containers.