What is a Macro anyway?
You might have seen it being thrown around on the gram by Fitspos tracking their macros while wearing a waist trainer and sipping skinny tea. Or maybe you've heard the bro science from old mate at the gym who's on his 50th set of biceps (because we all know that curls get the girls) that he can't wait to smash a crispy creme & tub of Ben & Jerry's (after his BCAA's, of course) because "If It Fits Your Macros" (IIFYM) Am I right? 🙄🙄🙄
But what are macros anyway? The term macros is short for Macronutrients. These are the three main sources of nutrients that we get energy from; Carbohydrates, Protein and Fat. The other group of nutrients known as Micronutrients provide no energy however are essential for everyday life. We more commonly refer to micronutrients as vitamins and minerals.
It's important to note that not all Macros are equal. Carbohydrates and protein provide 4 calories per gram while fats provide 9 calories per gram. Even though its not a macronutrient (it's actually an anti nutrient as it strips your body of micros while being metabolised) I thought I'd let you know alcohol provides 7 calories per gram. And for full transparency a calorie is a measurement of energy used in the body; not a diet tool devised by supermodels in the 90's to maintain that heroin chic look. We get it Kate Moss, cigarettes have no calories!
So how do you know how many calories you should eat a day. Or what percentage your macros should be. Well, here's where it gets a little trickier because there is no one size fits all. It depends on age, gender, physical activity levels, goals and a whole lot of other factors. First thing that needs to be determined is your required caloric intake for the day, let's say this is 2000 calories. Next you break down the macros into percentages. For example; if you follow a keto diet your macros will be high fat (70%), moderate protein (25%) and low carb (5%). So you're aiming for 70% of your daily 2000 calories to be fats, that works out to be 1400 calories from fat. We know that 1g of fat contains 9 calories, so you've got about 155g of fat to consume each day. Your protein intake of 25% works out to be 500 calories/125g given that 1 gram of protein contains 4 calories. And finally you've got 5% of your daily calories left for carbs making it 100 calories/25g. *** I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS MACRO BREAKDOWN. 5% calories from carbs is insanely low, especially for women and if adhered to over a long period of time can have serious health implications***
But how do you know what ratio of macros you need? This is dependant on your goals and bio-individuality. A great starting point is 40/30/30. That's 40% carbs, 30% protein and 30% fat. You might find that if you're really active you might need to increase your carbohydrate intake. You might be someone who has trouble digesting high amounts of fat and you may need to reduce it by 5-10%. It really is all about trial and error. Finding the right macro ratio to suit your individual needs. You may be constantly adjusting your macros depending on your goals, activity levels or even the season!
So there you have it! That's the in's and out's of macros and how they relate to your daily nutrition. If you found this helpful or would like me to dive a little deeper into different types of diets, their macro ratio's and the positives and negatives let me know.