Nutrition planning can be confusing. Just when you think you’ve got the fundamentals down, you discover an entirely new principle you didn’t know about before. You understand that balancing the energy you consume with the energy you burn off it key to effective weight management. However, if you’re to really enjoy the best results from your eating habits, you need to be controlling where these calories are actually coming from. Here’s the basics about macros…
What are macros?
Macros are essentially the building blocks of calories, essentially what makes up a calorie. You have 3 main macros; carbs, fats and protein. To be more scientific, macros (or macro-nutrients) are molecules that our bodies use to create energy. Every food contains macros, all in varying amounts which are measures in grams on the nutrition labels. Each macro holds a certain amount of calories:
- Fat provides 9 calories per gram
- Protein provides 4 calories per gram
- Carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram
Why we track macros
We’ve all heard of the weight loss formula: eat less calories than you burn and you’ll lose weight. Whilst this is predominately true in most cases, you need to be taking into account other variables as well, that’s where macro tracking comes in. Here’s the thing. If someone only tracks calories as their means of losing weight, they’re going to be completely unaware of the macro-nutrient content of their diet which could adversely affect their efforts.
If you’re diet is too low in protein, you risk burning off muscle tissue. If you’re eating too much refined sugar (carbs) you could literally be sending calories right into body fat. If you’re not eating enough fat, you may suffer to absorb certain vitamins. Do you think drinking 200 calories worth of a sugary drink is the same as eating 200 calories worth of avocado? Of course not. Even though they’re both 200 calories, they way in which they’re processed and effect your body is going to be completely different. Macro tracking not only allows us to manipulate the consumption of the different macros to get the most efficient results from nutrition plan but also safeguard our overall health and well-being. You get the idea, macros are important.
What is your optimal macro breakdown?
I wish I could give you an answer! This is a topic that could be debated for years and people would still not reach a conclusive and definite answer. We can however, come to the assumption that certain breakdowns are more effective and sustainable than others. One of the most popular macro intakes is the 40/30/30 rule. Whereby 40% of calories come form carbs, 30% from fats and 30% from protein.
This is the breakdown we’ve used extensively with our clientèle as has always proven to be an achievable and effective formula for macro manipulation.
So you want to be shooting for 40/30/30. That’s great, but how do you actually work out what this means in terms of amounts?
How to calculate your macros
Calculating exactly how many of the different macros you need is easy! First, you need to establish how many calories you’re actually aiming for. Someone who wants to eat 2000 calories with a 40/30/30 split is going to need to eat less of the individual macros than someone who is intending to eat 3000 calories.
When you’ve worked out how many calories your body requires (subject to your age, weight, height, gender, activity levels etc) you can then get to work on breaking down each macro.
Let’s say for example, you want to eat 2000 calories daily, whilst adhering to a 40/30/30 split.
If you’re to get 40% of your calories from carbs, then you need to work out 40% of 2000 (your calorie target). You then divide 40 by 4 (the amount of calories in 1g of carb) and that will give you the amount of carbs you need.
If you’re to get 30% of your calories from fat, then you need to work out 30% of 2000 (your calorie target). You then divide 30 by 9 (the amount of calories in 1g of fat) and that will give you the amount of fat you need.
If you’re to get 30% of your calories from protein, then you need to work out 30% of 2000 (your calorie target). You then divide 30 by 4 (the amount of calories in 1g of carb) and that will give you the amount of protein you need.
Now, this may have gone right over your head and we wouldn’t blame you. Reread the article, break it down step-by-step and then go through the above formulas again.Practice makes perfect, so keep at it until you’ve got perfect clarity on how to calculate your macros.
- Don’t expect to perfect macros first time. You may need to revise the formulas various times before it finally sinks in.
- Macros doesn’t take into account water intake which should be at least 1.5 litres daily.
- The 40/30/30 breakdown is only a guideline that is used for many people. Certain goals like bodybuilding will require a different breakdown for the best results.
- We are NOT doctors and the information here is to serve only for educational purposes. We would encourage you to seek out medical advice before starting any new exercise or diet plan.