What are “macros”?
Ok …here is the Cliff Notes version….
Nutrients can be divided into macronutrients (macros) and micronutrients (micros). Macronutrients are what provide us with energy in the form of calories and we need these in large amounts. Our macronutrients include: Proteins, Fats, Carbohydrates and Alcohol (although I dislike attaching the word nutrient to this one). Proteins and Carbs provide 4 calories/g, fats provide 9 calories/g and alcohol provides 7 calories/g. This is why you will notice that the serving size for fats is much smaller than carbs or proteins-because they have more than double the amount of calories/g. Micronutrients on the other hand are needed in smaller amounts and do not provide energy (calories). This includes our vitamins and minerals.
Why count macros?
Counting macros is an alternative to counting calories. At the end of the day you want a certain balance of fats, proteins and carbs and this balance may vary depending on your goals. Counting macros is a great way to keep your nutrition on track without having to worry about every single calorie. It also allows you the flexibility to incorporate your favourite food. In theory nothing is off limit but remember that quality is still important as this is where you will get all your micronutrients from. By maintaining a balance of carbs, proteins and fats (when done correctly), you are keeping your blood sugar regulated and this is key to controlling those sabotaging cravings!!
How will my macros differ based on my goals?
The hard truth is that there is no secret formula for everyone. Body type, age, gender, health history, activity level and personal goals will all influence your macros. For weight loss, I typically start with a 40/30/30 (C/F/P) ratio. I find this is the most sustainable and effective starting point for most people. It provides a balance of all macronutrients in a way that you do not feel like you are depriving yourself of any foods. Once you have established this as a base line you can then start tracking your progress and see how you do with changes in ratios and carb cycling.
How do I figure out my macros?
In order to figure out how much protein/carbs/fat you should be consuming, you first need to know your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) which is how many calories you burn in a day. This includes the calories you burn at rest (breathing, digesting etc.) and the calories you burn through daily activity. If your goal is to build muscle you need to consume 5-10% more calories than your TDEE. If weight loss is your goal, then you need to eat 15-20% fewer calories than your TDEE. You then assign 40% of those calories to carbs, and 30% to both protein and fat.
So, you’re probably thinking “that’s great Lucy but what does this actually mean for me?”
Here is a free online macro calculator you can use to determine your
macros. You will need to use their calculator first to determine how many calories you need. You can then adjust the macro calculator to represent a 40/30/30 Carb/Fat/Protein ratio to determine the grams of each you should be consuming.
Again, this is great but what does that look like in terms of real food throughout the day?
Well check out my Free 7 DAY Slim & Fit Challenge for a peak into what a week of macro balanced meals looks like. You will also get 3 at home HIIT workouts…. because if you are serious about your goals then you really will need to combine nutrition and fitness!
Helping you to HIIT your Macros,
Lucy is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Personal Trainer with a thirst for good food, fitness, cats, travel and adventure!