Macro is a popular term in the fitness world. It comes up often, especially when talking about dieting or losing weight. You may hear people talk about tracking their macros versus counting their calories (it’s important to know that this is not the same thing).
Many people experience great results by tracking their macros, because unlike tracking calories, it takes into consideration the quality and satiety of the foods you’re eating. Not all calories are created equal. For example, 100 calories of broccoli will affect your body differently than a 100 calorie brownie.
There are three macronutrients that our bodies require: Carbohydrates (sugar), Lipids (fats), and Proteins. Each of these macronutrients provides us with energy in the form of calories.
Carbohydrates contain 4k cal per gram.
Proteins contain 4k cal per gram.
Fats contain 9k cal per gram.
In addition to providing your body with energy, each macronutrient plays a specific role in our bodies that allows us to function properly.
Everything that we eat causes a metabolic and physiological response in our body. For cosmetic purposes, as in how to make changes to our body physically, the most important level to look at is the macronutrient level — carbohydrate, protein, and fat. Each macronutrient causes a different response in our body. By manipulating our intake, we can elicit changes (fat loss, muscle gain) that we’re seeking.
Carbohydrate: These are the sugars and starches that make up the bulk of energy for all living things. The body converts carbohydrates into glucose, causing a rise in blood sugar and the subsequent release of the anabolic (and anti-catabolic) hormone insulin. Insulin aids in building muscle, but it can also cause fat to accumulate if it isn’t managed properly. Overweight, insulin-resistant individuals benefit greatly from reducing their carbohydrate intake.
Protein: Proteins are the “building blocks of life”. They are the amino acid structures that rebuild and repair the body. Going from a low-protein intake to a higher protein intake is one of the most effective, foolproof ways to improve body composition.
Fat: Essential for the health and maintenance of many bodily processes including immunity and hormone production, and also an important energy source. Consuming too many calories from fat though, especially when combined improperly with other macronutrients, will result in increased body fat.
When trying to make changes to your body composition, doing your research on macronutrients, where to start, and trial and error, will be major keys to your success.