If you’ve been researching the ways to lose that last bit of body fat, you probably already know what “macros” are. But you don’t have to worry if the buzz about macros and the macro-counting diet has left you scratching your head because, in this guide, we’ve got you covered!
Read on as we explain everything and address your questions:
- So, what exactly are these macros?
- A lot of people seem to be talking about this macro diet, but what exactly is it?
- Do you need to keep track of your macros?
You’re about to learn a secret: It’s not as difficult as you would expect. It’s possible that the macros you eat, already factor into the diet or eating pattern you’re following. It’s just a matter of semantics!
If it’s your first exposure to the term “macros,” do the terms “carbohydrates,” “fat,” and “protein” ring any bells? You may learn more about them by reading on down below!
So, what exactly are these macros?
Macros—also known as macronutrients—are exactly what their name implies. The literal translation of the term “macro” is LARGE. Hence, macronutrients refer to the nutrients that your body needs in, well, relatively large amounts.
There are three types of macronutrients: carbohydrates (or carbs), fat, and protein.
Although each macronutrient is measured in grams, the number of calories per gram varies. For every gram of protein or carbs, you get 4 calories. However, each gram of fat contains 9 calories. It’s for this reason that fat is often touted as a superior source of nutrition to carbs or protein!
When most people hear the term “carbohydrates,” images of bread, cereal, and potatoes pop into their heads. However, there is a surprisingly large variety of foods that do contain carbs.
Carbohydrates are classified into three groups, depending on their structure:
Fiber: Fiber is a type of complex carb that the body cannot break down. It fills you up and prevents your blood sugar levels from rising. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are all good sources of fiber.
Starch: Starch is a complex carb that can be found in foods like grains, oats, and potatoes. White rice and flour are examples of refined starches, which raise blood sugar levels in the same way that simple carbs do. These starches are not as good for you.
Sugar: Sugar is a simple carb present in fruits, vegetables, and dairy. Sugars are added to foods to make them more palatable and provide a rapid source of energy for the body.
You can find all three types of carbohydrates in a single banana!
Fats are demonized for no other reason than that they contain 5 more calories per gram compared to both carbs and protein. However, healthy fats are also an option that people conveniently forget about.
Better be clear, there are several types of fat, and not all are healthy.
Trans fats: There is no benefit to your health from consuming trans fats, so please do your best to restrict your intake. These are typically found in fried and processed foods.
Saturated fats: Saturated fats can be found in animal products including dairy, red meat, sausage, and cheese. There is strong evidence that consuming saturated fat raises the probability of developing heart disease. Hence, keep it to no more than 10% of your daily caloric intake.
Unsaturated fats: Healthy fats, known as unsaturated fats, are mostly present in plant-based foods like nuts and olives. Some rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for heart health, are fatty fish and flaxseeds. Some nuts and vegetable oils include omega-6 fatty acids, which are also beneficial when consumed in moderation.
Sources of healthy fats include:
- Vegetable oils
- Salmon, sardines, and tuna
- Fat-containing dairy products
Protein is essential for the development of strong bones, healthy muscles, and radiant skin. There are two primary categories of foods high in protein: lean proteins and fatty proteins, with lean proteins (foods high in protein and low in fat) being the better option.
Some good places to get some lean protein are:
- Cod, Haddock, or Sole
- White meat
- Tofu and lentils
- Low-fat dairy products
- Egg whites
However, this doesn’t imply you can’t have an egg or dairy product with some fat. You can fulfill your body’s requirement for fat macronutrients by eating protein rich in fat. Full-fat dairy, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish are all examples of healthy fatty protein sources.
A lot of people seem to be talking about this macro diet, but what exactly is it?
In addition to its popularity among bodybuilders, the macro diet is followed by those who wish to lose weight, improve their athletic performance, or control their blood sugar levels. Every person’s macronutrient distribution is different depending on their goals (such as weight loss or muscle gain), hence there is no universally applicable meal plan that can be obtained. You can stick to the diet by keeping a food diary and establishing macronutrient limits. As long as you stick to your macronutrient targets, you can eat whatever you want.
Do you need to keep track of your macros?
To be honest, we’ll let you make the call!
The best part about macro-counting is that it can be adjusted to match anyone’s needs. It is known as “flexible dieting” because it allows you to continue eating the foods you enjoy without severely restricting your food intake. But if you ever find yourself stressing about what you’re putting into your body, get the Healthi app because it helps determine your appropriate macros!
The macro-counting community has coined the phrase “If It Fits Your Macros,” which essentially means that you can eat whatever you want as long as it falls within your daily calorie and macro-nutrient limits.
Should you now lie to yourself so that you can fill up with cookies and nothing else?
Can you still achieve your goals if you have a cookie once in a while?
When you’re tracking macros, there are technically no “treats”; you just have to rearrange your macros so that they all work out!
Macro counting is useful because it can:
- Reduce unwanted fat
- Build and keep lean muscle
- Keep your body satisfied
The flexible diet strategy has its advantages, but monitoring macros isn’t a guarantee of good eating, as many experts point out. You could theoretically achieve your macronutrient targets without ever eating a vegetable. This means paying attention to the quality, not simply the quantity, of the food you consume.
However, there are many who believe that a macro plan is too simplistic and fails to take into account the psychological and social factors that contribute to unhealthy eating habits. Yet, again, there are still those who think it’s a good thing that everything is becoming simpler!
Have you ever stopped for a moment to see what’s on a nutrition label?
It’s overwhelming to try to figure out what to focus on, there’s so much content. Calories? Vitamins? Unsaturated fat? Because every single thing we eat consists of a certain ratio of protein, carbohydrates, and fats, it makes sense to learn about macronutrients. After all, these components are quite literally what keeps us alive!
It’s helpful to know how much of each macronutrient you’re consuming, but keeping track of it can be tedious. It can also develop into obsession and encourage compulsive eating. But if you find yourself tossing and turning at night, either because of food thoughts or guilt over falling short of your own goals, you may want to keep tabs on your macros. You don’t have to do this on your own; simply download the Healthi app and let it track your macros for you!