Part II: A Brief Overview on Macros

Last blog, I introduced how to find out your estimated daily calories. Now, let’s get into the bitty-gritty micro details about MACROS!

If you follow {literally any} “fitspo” account on Instagram, you’ve probably heard of macros or flexible dieting(IIFYM). It’s easy to be intrigued by this way of organizing your nutrition: on social media, we often see extremely fit men/women eating donuts and burgers- then following up this behavior by saying it “fits their macros”. How can tracking your macros help you to eat the foods you enjoy and still lose weight?

Before we get to burger, fries, and pecan pies, let’s figure out what the term “macro” actually means.

“Macros” or macronutrients, by definition, are types of food that are required in large amounts in a normal diet. Simply put, there are three macronutrients that we will focus on today: proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.

Protein:

Protein is an imperative macronutrient for muscle growth retention, and recovery. Examples of proteins include: lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs (egg whites), cottage cheese, and Greek yogurt- to name just a few (of my faves!). Muscle preservation is quite important when you are in a long duration caloric deficit. Your body doesn’t understand that you are eating less calories than you are burning so you can get “summer shredded”. All your body knows is that it is hungry and wants to maintain homeostasis. When weight loss occurs, muscle loss will consequentially occur as well. However, by consuming a diet high in protein, you aid your body in sustaining lean body mass.

Carbohydrates:

I LOVE carbs. Who doesn’t love carbs? Carbs are perpetuated as “scary” or “bad” in many of today’s fad diets. However- this is far from the truth. (Unless, of course, you have a medical condition that inhibits the correct processing of carbs in your body. And if you aren’t sure if you do- you should see a doctor, just to be safe!) Examples of carbohydrates include: pasta, bread, oats, rice, fruit, starchy veggies, and sugary sweets. Carbs, in the right amount, are definitely enjoyable and can give your body immediate energy. Carbs often get a tough reputation because it is very easy to overeat. Not all carbs are created equal. Sugary sweets and treats are GREAT to have- but in moderation. Your body doesn’t store carbs. Meaning they will be used at immediate fuel or transferred to fat and stored. Because of this, carbohydrates won’t keep you satiated (full) for as long as protein or fats- our next macronutrient.

Fats:

Fats don’t make you fat. Just to get that out of the way. Fats give your body energy and promote cellular growth. They also aid in hormone regulation, which is something to be very mindful of if in a caloric deficit. Examples of fats include: nuts, avocados, cheese, whole eggs, and peanut butter, just to list a few of the tastiest! Just like how not all carbs are created equal, neither are fats. There are four main different kinds of fats: saturated, trans, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. For the purpose of calculating macros this is not a measurable factor, but for overall health it is important to note that saturated and trans fats are known as the “bad” fats and can plausibly cause adverse health issues, like high cholesterol. Fats are the most nutrient dense of the macros, weighing in at 9 calories per gram, rather than the 4 calories per gram that proteins and carbohydrates contain.

Summary:

  • Protein:
    • Lean meats, lean poultry, some fish.
    • Highly satiating (filling)
    • Aid in muscle growth and retention
    • 4 calories per gram
  • Carbohydrates:
    • Pasta, bread, rice, CAKE
    • Not “bad” for you, nor will they “make you fat”!
    • Body uses for immediate energy
  • Fats:
    • Almonds, avocados, peanut butter
    • Help in hormone regulation
    • Be mindful of the types of fats you consume

By reading my last blog on the individualized science of caloric deficits, and now this synopsis of macros- you have a strong, data-based foundation on which to create a healthy diet! Stay tuned for the next blog, where I will discuss macro ratios and real-life examples of successful diet plans.

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