WHAT’S ALL THIS TALK ABOUT MACROS?
You’ve probably heard people throw around the phrase “counting their macros” or perhaps even refer to a certain food or meal as “macro-friendly” or “fitting in their macros.”
Macros are short for “macronutrients,” a term used to describe the molecules that our bodies use to create energy for themselves – primarily found in three key food groups: fats (to keep you satisfied), carbohydrates (to fuel energy) and proteins (to build and repair muscle). They are found in all foods in differing amounts, measured in grams (g) on the nutrition labels.
DOES THIS HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH COUNTING CALORIES?
Not exactly. Often times people look at a food, like a plain bagel and arbitrarily say, “245 calories, hmmm that’s ok” even though it really isn’t that healthy. But the goal of a macro diet isn’t to achieve a certain number of calories but to balance fat, protein and carb intake based off your performance goals (strength, lose weight, maintain, etc).
SO WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO COUNT YOUR MACROS?
Counting macros means tracking the number of grams of protein, fats and carbs you are consuming daily. Fat provides 9 calories per gram, and protein and carbs provide 4 calories per gram. A macro diet is the proper ratio between all three of those nutrients.
If you’re looking to figure out your macro needs, first you need to determine your daily caloric intake by using this free calculator. Once you know your daily caloric intake, you can determine how many macronutrients you need. There are a variety of recommendations from folks like RP Strength, but the zone diet, for example, suggests that 40% of your daily caloric intake comes from carbs, 30% from fat and 30% from protein.
WHAT TO TELL YOUR FRIEND WHO TRIES TO MAKE UP FOR LOST TIME IN ONE MEAL.
No, you can’t eat three steaks and call it a day.
Like nearly everything related to health and fitness — consistency is key. You can’t run all the miles on Monday or lift all the weights or eat all the steaks then take off the rest of the week. It doesn’t work that way.
IS IT FOR ME?
As athletes, we’re learning to re-think how we eat. In this effort to gain muscle or lose fat, a macro diet removes the temptation of “bad food” or “food boredom” and frees individuals to see eating as a lifestyle. This approach can allow you to eat the foods you like, because body composition is regulated by macronutrient targets (protein, carbs and fat). With the proper balance of each, your body will essentially burn fat and gain muscle.