Over the last 5 years, if you have ever entered a gym you have probably heard someone talking about his or her macros. You probably thought that it was just some more gym jargon that you didn’t need to pay any attention to. Well, I’m here to tell you that you should be paying attention to what macros are and how they are utilized to improve your life.
Let’s start with the basics. Macro, or its’ full form macronutrients, are the three components that make up a food. The three macros are protein, carbs, and fats. Each of these three categories comes together to make the caloric component of a food. After that we have micronutrients, which consist of vitamins, and minerals that are crucial to having a healthy functioning body. For now, let’s just focus on the big picture, the macros.
Protein may be the most talked about and important of the macros, for training reasons. Each gram of protein consists of 4 calories per gram, so it is easy to eat a decent amount while still consuming few calories. This makes protein a great resource for those on diets because of the ability to eat voluminous amounts. You may have heard someone tell you in the gym “make sure you’re eating enough protein”. Well, how much is “enough”. The common consensus is 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, but according to some more recent research anything around 1 gram per pound of LEAN BODY MASS. That means 1 gram per pound of muscle you currently posses. That’s not saying anything more or less will be harmful, just recommendations.
The benefits of protein are that protein is the building block of muscle (technically known as Amino Acids). This means that with adequate protein intake you will notice quicker muscle recovery, faster metabolism, satiation (full feeling), and even benefits to your immune system.
In terms of calories per gram, carbs are in the same wheelhouse as protein (1gram of carbohydrates= 4 calories). Carbs have gotten the most flack in the fitness world for being the “cause” of obesity. This is just flat out wrong and really only used in marketing ploys. Carbs are extremely important, not only because they taste amazing, but for performance benefits. Our muscular skeletal system runs mostly (key word “mostly”) on carbohydrates as a fuel source. Carbs are turned into glycogen, which is stored in our muscles and used as energy. So, when it comes to getting your macros, consider all the benefits that carbs have: improved daily energy, fuel for training, and brain function.
Fats are important to monitor closely because they are much more calorically dense than carbs and protein. 1 gram of fat is equal to 9 calories. Now, this doesn’t mean you should automatically go on a low fat diet. Fats are extremely important for hormonal process and maintaining a healthy hormone profile. Fats are also what coat your nerves, allowing them to fire more rapidly which in turn can lead to learning movement skills quicker and fighting off certain nerve diseases.
With that quick explanation of what each of the three macros do and why they are important, you are probably wondering what do I do with this knowledge to figure out what macros I should be eating. My best recommendation is to hire a nutrition coach, much like myself. Someone who can identify with your needs and properly adjusts and demonstrates proper macro consumption for you. There are also plenty of free macro calculators out there on the internet that will spit out a number for you that you can then implement and adhere.