What are Macronutrients?
You’ve probably heard the term “macros” before. You may even have an idea of what they are but aren’t 100% sure. That’s why I’m here. Macros, or macronutrients, are a combination of carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Your body needs these nutrients in larger quantities in order to function properly and to give it the energy it needs!In addition to energy, each nutrient has a specific role for your body.
What is a macro made of?
Macros are made of carbs, proteins, and fats.
Carbohydrates, or carbs, are the main energy source for your body. There are two types of carbs: simple and complex. Simple carbs (like honey, fruit, or yogurt) are easy for your body to break down into glucose (aka energy), but complex carbs (like starches and grains) are harder for your body to break down. However, these complex carbs do usually contain fiber and help rid your body of waste, so they’re not all bad!
Proteins, on the other hand, allow your body to grow. Protein builds and repairs tissues and protects lean body mass (your muscle mass). Proteins have amino acids which are essential. Proteins aren’t just meat — you can also get proteins from plants , such as beans, lentils, and soy.
Last but not least, we have fats. Fats get a bad rap in the Fitness world but the truth is: fats are vital for energy. That’s because we store fat — aka energy — in our bodies for when we need it! Fats also cushion your organs and help with the production of certain hormones. Of course, fats should also not make up the majority of your macro intake (although this is where most people have the highest macro intake).
Now that we know what macronutrients are, let's talk about why you should track them.
Want to improve health? Count your macros.
You know about calorie counting. You can look at the calories of the serving you’re eating and count them up. Staying on the lower end of your calorie intake might sound like a great idea, but it’s not always.
You can eat 1200 calories worth of bagels, but we all know that's not a good way to eat. Not all calories are created equal, but counting them doesn’t take into account this nuance. That’s why I recommend macro counting instead — because it helps make sure you have a good percentage of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
Whether you are trying to lose fat or maintain muscle, tracking your macronutrients is essential to your success. Tracking macronutrients can also be helpful to people trying to manage or prevent a medical condition. Studies show some evidence that a middle-aged person who increases their protein intake may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease. Awesome, right?!
What macro count should you aim for?
Of course, tracking your macronutrients doesn’t automatically mean weight loss or fat loss (or improved cognitive health). Weight loss comes from finding a macro ratio that meets your energy needs. The USDA has a “MyPlate” system that encourages using a divided plate to layout your meals. Similar to one you may use for your child, this same idea can be used for yourself when planning out your macros.
The USDA recommends this split of your macronutrients:
These percentages may be a healthy start but might not work right for everyone. That’s why it’s so important to find macro percentages that work best for your body — and tracking what you eat. This helps you see what you take in, how you feel, and what changes you notice to your body to ensure you’re getting the ideal percentage of each macronutrient.
Want to start tracking your macros? Apps like MyFitnessPal can show you a breakdown of macros and percentages. Best of all, it’s FREE.
Bottom line: Macros are GOOD!
By now, I hope you’ve seen how macronutrients can help you get a better grasp on the quality of the food you’re consuming. I also hope that macro-tracking frees up a bit more space for you — because it’s not just about empty calories. It’s about making sure your body has the nutrients it needs to have energy, rebuild, and grow.
Tracking macros can definitely be an adjustment for those who are used to just looking at calories. However, once you get the hang of what percentages work best with your body and what goal you are trying to accomplish, the easier it will become. When my clients start tracking macros, they find it is a lot easier than strict calorie counting or eliminating entire food groups. The key is to just start — and then adjust along the way.
If you want help finding out how to calculate your needed macros and how to adjust for your individual fat loss or fitness goals, stay tuned. I am creating a macro program that will be hosted on my app. You’ll get everything I give my 1:1 coaching clients, in an easy DIY macro program. Interested in that? Make sure you’re on my email list!