We’d like to address the topic of macronutrients – or in short, macros – namely, what they are and how determining the right macros split for your goals can help you tremendously.
If none of it makes sense, fear not – give me a few minutes of your time, take a seat, and get ready to learn a very important piece of information!
WHAT ARE MACROS?
As mentioned above, ‘macros’ is a convenient short name for macronutrients, which include protein, fats and carbohydrates. These are the energy-containing nutrients that provide our body with the following number of calories per gram:
- 1 gram of protein = 4 calories
- 1 gram of carbohydrates = 4 calories
- 1 gram of fats = 9 calories
Everything we consume has a certain amount of each macronutrient, and foods that contain the same number of calories can have completely different macronutrient breakdowns. The chart below will help you understand the macronutrient composition of many common foods:
WHY IS IT BENEFICIAL TO UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPT OF MACROS?
Quite simply – because you can use it to your advantage whilst working on your fitness goals, no matter whether those are performance- or physique-based!
See, as mentioned above, foods with completely different macros can provide the same number of calories – for instance, eating 4 grams of butter (fats) or 9 grams of sugar (carbs) will both provide you with the same 36 calories. So, does it matter what you eat so long as the calorie targets are met? Isn’t it true that “a calorie is a calorie”?
Unfortunately, only to a certain extent.
True – each calorie encompasses the same amount of energy – however, the body is a complex machine that reacts to different nutrient profiles differently, utilising many complex biochemical pathways!
For instance, although protein and carbs both contain 4 calories per gram, much more energy is required to metabolise protein – and in contrast, metabolising energy-dense fats is very easy. This is one of the reasons protein-rich nutrition plans are often offered for weight loss, contributing to burning an additional 80-100 calories a day.
In addition, if your macronutrient breakdown contains sufficient protein, you are likely to feel more satisfied throughout the day and experience less cravings, since protein is the most filling macronutrient!
These are just a couple of examples of how manipulating your macros (before even changing the number of calories you consume!) can help you achieve your goals with much more efficiency.
STEP-BY-STEP APPROACH TO CALCULATING YOUR MACROS
- First, you need to get a good idea of your estimated energy requirements, which will determine how many calories you’re going to aim for each day. It’s always best to see a qualified professional to do this – being that a dietitian or an experienced coach. Although there are many online calculators and equations available, your starting point depends on many additional factors they may not consider, such as your current relationship with food and personal preferences. Other parameters that are taken into consideration include age, weight, height, activity level – and more!
- Once you know how many calories to aim for daily, it’s time to tackle the macronutrient split! The example split provided here is a generalised approach to fat loss, so it may not suit you perfectly – however, will give you a good idea of the logic behind determining macros. If you’d like a more personalised approach, check out one of our programs!
- Ok, off we go now! To start with, aim for 1 g/pound body weight of protein.
- Once that’s out of the way, allocate 0.4 g/pound of body weight to fats.
- And finally, your remaining calories are allocated to carbs!
As for the actual calculations, let’s assume your daily target is 1500 calories, and your weight is 125 pounds. In this case:
- You will need to aim for 125 g protein per day, and each g of protein provides 4 calories. So, 4x125 = 500 calories are now allocated, and we have 1000 left for fats and carbs!
- You will also require 0.4x125 = 50 g of fats daily. As each g of fat provides 9 calories, we have just allocated further 9x50 = 450 calories!
- In total, we have allocated 500 (from protein) + 450 (from fats) = 950 calories, which means 1500 – 950 = 550 are left for carbs. As each gram of carbs provides 4 calories, this equals 137.5 g of carbs!
So, the resulting breakdown looks like this:
125 g protein
50 g fats
137.5 g of carbs
All that’s left now is make sure the foods you choose fit those macros! And speaking of that…
NOURISH YOUR BODY APPROPRIATELY!
In theory, it is possible to hit your macros by eating fast food and cookies if you’re creative enough with portion management.
However, it isn’t worth it, as your body won’t run smoothly on this kind of fuel!
Try to reach your goals predominantly by consuming wholesome foods from all core food groups, which will also provide you with ample vitamins and minerals essential for health and wellbeing.
And there you have it – a little handy guide to determining your macros!
Hope you found this helpful and remember – if you’d like a more personalised approach, get in contact with nutritionist Hannah Cartwright at firstname.lastname@example.org