When you are new to the journey of nutritional tracking and are trying to immerse yourself, it can be quite intimidating. There is a lot of information on tracking macros and how to do it correctly, but it can be overwhelming. What are they? How much do you need? What’d right for your body? We’ll try to answer as much as we know about it to make your life easier.
What are Macros?
Macros are macronutrients, which are nutrients that provide calories and energy. These nutrients are needed in large amounts. There are three macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Each of these macronutrients contains calories, but they provide different amounts. Carbs and proteins supply four calories per gram, while fat provides nine calories per gram.
Carbs are used as fuel and energy. They are mainly found in fruit, vegetables, and starches. There are two types of carbs: simple and complex carbs. Simple carbs are made out of just one or two sugar molecules. They are the quickest source of energy and are easy to digest. Complex carbs are made out of the strings of sugar molecules, and they take more time to digest because of the fiber.
We need both for a well-balanced diet. We’re typically advised to eat complex carbs to provide steady fuel for the body instead of a spike simple carbs offer. Carbs are the first macros used by the body. When there’s a shortage of carbs, the body will use stored fats.
Protein is a part of a balanced diet. It helps with growth, immune functions, and preserving muscle mass. It is found in such items as meat, poultry, fish, cheese, legumes, and milk. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein.
Some of these amino acids are essential, which means we need them for our diet, and some of them are non-essential, meaning that our body can make it on its own. Because protein is responsible for satiety and tissue growth, it’s vital to consume enough, especially when weight-lifting.
Fat gets a bad rep, but we do need it. It’s the most concentrated source of energy, vitamins, and minerals. Fat is found in meat, poultry, nuts, milk, oils, fish, and grains. There are saturated, unsaturated, and trans fats. Trans fats are the ones you should work on avoiding altogether. Most trans fats are formed through hydrogenated oil. Saturated fats are found in animal products.
You should aim at limiting saturated fats, but they aren’t nearly as bad as trans fats. Unsaturated fats are found in avocados, olive oil, nuts, and all the healthy items we’re advised to consume.
How Much of Each Macro Do We Need?
The recommended amounts of macros are:
20-35% of fats
10-35% of proteins
45-64% of carbs
However, different diets and different lifestyles promote different ratios. You have to find the one that works for your lifestyle and exercise schedule. Do not eliminate any group; just adjust the ratios a bit to see how your body functions.