So you're wondering, what are macros? Well let me tell you, you're probably getting plenty of them each and every day. There is a very simple answer and a longer answer. Make sure that you stick around to see which macros are best for you.
What Exactly Are Macros?
Let's start off with the short and sweet answer. Macros are simply nutrients called protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Because they're the largest category of nutrients, they're called macronutrients and provide our body with calories, or the units of energy needed to function.
Knowing what macros are might be helpful in terms of simply knowing what the definition is, but it won't really help you as far as your diet goes. Here are a few points I want to touch on:
- What's the difference between protein, carbohydrates, and fat?
- There is a big difference between the good and the bad macros.
- Not everyone should eat the same amount of any particular type of macro.
Macro Differences: Proteins, Carbs and Fat
Think of protein as a structure-building molecule that acts as the building blocks of muscle, and helps to maintain smooth function of your tissues and organs. Protein is simply a combination of amino acids found in food. You can get protein from all types of food, not just meats, and dairy. In fact, there are many combinations of food, like rice and beans, for example, that contain all the amino acids needed to create a "perfect protein."
There are 4 calories in every gram of protein.
Carbohydrates provide the main source of energy for your body and are made up of sugar, starches, and fibers. After carbohydrates are digested, and if our body needs the carbs right away (let's say after you run a marathon), the carbs are converted to glucose. If your body needs them a little later, they turn to glycogen. Your body has the ability to store roughly 2000 calories of glycogen. Your liver and muscles are the main storage centers for glycogen. After you've reached max capacity of those storage centers, your body begins to store glycogen as fat for later use.
There are 4 calories in every gram of carbohydrate.
Fat is the final macronutrient in the body that provides the body with quite a bit of energy. When fat is digested, it breaks down into fatty acids It also acts as the primary transport vehicle for vitamins and nutrients, helps hormones operate optimally, and lines our body's cell walls. An adequate amount of healthy fat helps our brain in terms of memory and thought processes, too.
There are 9 calories in every gram of fat.
Good Macros vs Bad Macros
Whether you're eating a protein, carbs, or fat, aim high. There is a big difference between good macros for your body and bad macros for your body. Eating bad macros increases the likelihood of disease, obesity and energy depletion. Eating good macronutrients increases the likelihood of good health, optimal weight and feeling full of energy.
So what are good macros and what are bad macros?
In a nutshell, the less refined a food the higher the quality of macronutrient. On the flip side, the more refined a food, the lower the quality of macronutrient.
Here are a few examples of good vs bad macros:
- Fresh Fruits (carb)
- Vegetables (carb)
- Whole Grains (carb)
- Lentils (high protein carb)
- Beans (high protein carb
- Nuts (high protein fatty carb)
- Lean Meats and Poultry (protein)
- White Fish (protein)
- Some Shellfish (protein)
- Salmon (fatty protein)
- Eggs (fatty protein)
- Unrefined Cheese (fatty protein)
- Olives/Olive Oil (fat)
- Avocado (fat)
- Coconut Oil (fat)
- Dark Chocolate (fat)
- Chia and Flax Seeds (protein-rich fat)
Here are a few exampls of bad macros:
- Fruits in syrups, sauces, and jams (carbs)
- Vegetables in sauce or processed with a high amount of salt (carbs)
- White pasta and bread (carbs)
- Quick cook rice and oats (carbs)
- Milk Chocolate (carbohydrate...lots of refined sugar)
- Candy (carbs)
- Juices & Sodas (carbs)
- Nearly All Fast Food (a mish-mash of low-quality macros)
- Commercially prepared fish or shellfish (i.e. battered/fried) (protein)
- Low-grade restaurant prepared beef burgers/hot dogs (protein'ish)
- Most egg substitutes (protein)
- Processed Cheese (i.e. American cheese, cheese dips, etc) (probably carbohydrate, but always questionable)
- Processed Vegetable Oils (i.e. corn, canola and soybean oil) (fat)
This is the shortlist of each, with an incredible combination of healthy foods you can eat, and an equally (if not more) unimpressive amount of low-quality foods that will absolutely trash your body.
What and How Many Macros Should You Eat?
It's hard to go wrong when you're eating a largely unrefined diet, but if you're struggling to balance your hormones or lose weight, then you'll want to adjust the amount of certain macronutrients that you eat.
You can read all about eating right for your body type in The Belly Burn Plan, but here is a quick breakdown:
Got belly fat? If you're carrying most of your weight through your midsection, you'll want to increase the amount of protein and decrease the amount of carbohydrates, following the Apple-Shaped Plan.
Got hip and thigh fat? If you're carrying excess fat mostly through your hips and thighs, you'll want to increase the amount of fiber-rich carbohydrates and cut down on fatty foods, especially dairy. Follow the Pear-Shaped Plan.
If you're carrying most of your weight through your upper body (back, arms, chest), you'll want to watch the amount of red meat and salt-rich foods in your diet. You can start by following the Inverted Pyramid Shaped Plan.
Finally, if you've got excess fat evenly distributed throughout your entire body, it's important that you watch the volume of food you eat at certain types of the day and keep an eye on the amount of fat you're eating. You can follow the Hourglass Shaped Plan.