If you been in close proximity to a gym; personal trainer or even a gym user in the last year or so, you’ve likely heard the term ‘macros’ and questioned both what it means and maybe even its significance.
Simply put, macros is slang for macronutrients found within the food we eat, this includes carbohydrates, fats and proteins. From a dieting perspective this is very important to understand as each of these have very different roles within the body and your fitness and health goals is largely dictated by their ratio, combined with overall calorie intake.
Here is a brief insight into the role of each macronutrient:
Carbohydrates: these provide the body with sugars used to create energy. The type of the carbohydrate is often classified by the speed at which it digests within the body and catalogued on a spectrum called the glycaemic index: a scaling system from 0-100; the higher the score, the faster the carb is digested. 4 Calories per gram.
Proteins: broken down into amino acids and used to help rebuild bodily tissue, including muscle, hair and even hormones. 4 calories per gram.
Fats: play a pivotal role in the synthesis of hormones, along with maintaining healthy body temperature and absorbs certain fat-soluble micronutrients, including vitamin A, D, E and K. 9 calories per gram.
The benefits of strategically balancing out your macros to facilitate your goal become abundantly clear when you understand the roles of each macro as shown above. For example, if my goal was to maintain muscle and burn fat, I wouldn’t have too much success using a 3500 calorie diet consisting of 80% carbohydrates, 15% fat and 5% protein!
Instead – with this goal – personally to me I’d aim to consume 2750 calories per day: 45% protein, 50% fats and 5% carbs. This would provide me with adequate protein and fat intake to elicit both muscle maintenance/recovery and a state of ketosis.
The ability to understand your macro intake has led to popular new dieting strategies such as ‘if it fits your macros’ (IIFYM). This type of diet requires you to use macro parameters that you stick to over a prolonged period. This allows you to be slightly more flexible with the foods that you eat, as the goal is now not necessarily focused on the specific foods you eat, but the macros you hit. This can improve long term dieting adherence and is made further achievable through apps such as myfitnesspal, enabling effective calorie and macro counting: a necessity for anyone opting into this dieting format.
Written by fitness blogger & personal trainer Steve Watson.