Nutrition is one of the most important and yet most complicated things in our lives. In our current age it feels more confusing than ever to know what information to listen to. The best place to start is the basics, calories in calories out, then going into more specifics without getting too crazy you will want to take a look at your macros. But what does that mean? How can understanding and having the correct macros help you?
You have come to the right place. Here is a simple guide to macros.
First, what even are macros? Macros is short for macronutrients which are the building blocks to our diet. Each of them break down differently to help with desired outcomes and each play a different and important role in our health.
There are three macros, the first being carbohydrates or carbs. These are the primary source of energy in our diet. They are fast to break down and are best thing for right before your workout to give you the needed energy. These are things like sugars, starches, and fiber. They are found in various foods like fruits, vegetables, and grains.
Next there are proteins. If you are making your way through your fitness journey I am sure you have heard plenty of people comment on hitting their protein goal. These are essential for muscle growth and repair as well as various bodily functions. These breakdown slower than carbs and because of their ability to help with muscle growth and repair you always want to eat these after a workout (and throughout the day). Protein is found in foods like meat, dairy, eggs, beans, and tofu. If you feel stuck check out our blog on protein here.
Finally we have fats. Though they have been demonized throughout the years fats are necessary and good for you in moderation. They are crucial for hormone production, brain health, and energy storage. Fats are the slowest to break down which means they will sustain you longer. It is important to eat your necessary fats every day and best if they are acquired through natural sources such as avocados, nuts, oils, and fatty fish.
So, now we know what the macros are and why they are important but why track them? Tracking your macros gives you a more precise way to manage your diet and reach your nutrition goals. But looking at how many grams of each macro you are eating today you can have more control over exactly what goes into it and how it feels. This is great for weight management through losing and gaining weight. It helps create more lean muscle mass and can reduce fat. This can lead into performance enhancement in your exercise because you will be fulling your body what it needs to repair and grow. Over all tracking your macros can lead to over all better health and wellness in the long run.
Convinced? Awesome. This means your next question is going to be how do you track your macros in the first place.
First you will look at what you daily caloric needs are. You can go onto google and look up a calculator for this that includes macros (it should be free! No need to buy anyone's course) and put in simple data like height, weight, age, etc. From this it will tell you the amount of calories and macros you need to maintain your current weight. From here many of these calculators will have an option for you to chose whether you are looking to reduce fat or gain muscle. From here it will move your macros accordingly.
Now that you have an example of a plan you can follow you can choose a macro ratio depending on your goals. They typically appear 40-30-30 or 50-25-25 (carbs, protein, fats). When aiming for weight loss you may want your macros to have lower carbs to put you in a calorie deficit, increase protein to preserve your muscle mass and have a moderate fat intake to help with satiety/ not be hungry as often (40-30-30). Looking for muscle gain? Increase protein significantly (around 80-100% of your body weight in grams), slightly raise carbs to fuel workouts and maintain a moderate fat intake for overall health. Even if you are looking to just maintain where you are looking at your macros will help you have greater control by ensuring that you are hitting the right amount of calories for that goal.
With this background you are ready to start your macro tracking journey. BUT it is important to know that this is just the basics. As you lean more into this continuously do research to help you reach the goals you want and to achieve greater control.
Good luck on this new journey to help you become the best version of you!