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Fitness

Why You Need to Know Your Macros and Why You Should Keep Track of Them Instead of Calories

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When starting a new diet or meal plan, it can undeniably feel overwhelming. We need to change our eating habits when there is a new goal we want to attain. The thing is…there seems to be quite a bit of controversy over everything food related in the fitness world. If you feel confused and not sure what you need to know to lose overall weight, lose fat or gain muscle, then this article is for you. Here is the complete break-down of how to calculate your macros and the reason why macros are more important than counting calories.

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What are Macros?

When you hear the term “Macros , this is just the short form of the word Macronutrient. There are a total of 7 macronutrients categories that our body requires to function optimally. These include, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, water, and minerals.

In regards to weight loss we should narrow our focus down to three main categories of macronutrients and you are probably able to decipher which of those 7 we need to lose weight.

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One thing that is an ABSOLUTE must-have when measuring your macros and calories is a food scale. Anyone wishing to see a change in their body needs to measure your food and log it. Here is the scale I use and I love it because it connects to your phone and it is super easy to use! Of course you can see results without this but having a food scale reduces the time lost by trail and error.

Now that we went over some basics, let’s dive into some details!

1. Protein

Let’s break it down…Protein is VITAL for the human body to live. We need it to maintain, build and repair muscle tissues. What makes this macro so important to the body? It is the fact that, it is comprised of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen and also brings in essential amino acids into the body. Humans actually cannot produce these amino acids on our own. We need to outsource them. We can do this by consuming them from animal proteins and plant proteins.

Higher concentrations of amino acids are found in foods such as: meat, eggs, fish and milk. Vegans and Vegetarians need to properly combine the appropriate vegetables to figure out what is needed to fill in the blanks. This is a bit trickier but absolutely attainable!

The big take away here is, when working out and trying to lose weight we need to repair the tissues that are damaged as we train. Without protein, we cannot efficiently make gains in lean muscle mass and in turn, cannot burn more calories at rest. The latter is what really helps when trying to burn fat.

2. Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates have always been a source of debate among those in the fitness world (hence the Keto Diet). Although carbohydrates are not absolutely essential to live, they are important especially for brain function.

They are divided into 4 categories. Monosaccharides and disaccharides are considered simple sugars (glucose molecules) such as fruits. These digest fast when consumed and the body can readily use these types of carbohydrates for energy instantly.

Olgiosaccarides and polysaccharides are composed of more complex molecules and take the body longer to digest. These are considered starches some examples are, grains, bread and barley. These are stored in the muscles and liver as glycogen. Carbohydrates are always a good idea to consume before intense physical activity, this allows your body to utilize them directly as energy.

3. Fat

Fats are chemically made up of the same structure as carbohydrates. They contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Although all macros are important, fats have been questionably more significant than carbohydrates in the fitness world. One of the industry’s leading trainers Dr. Jim Stoppani (PhD) believes that fat is second to protein on the scale of importance.

Fats serve to insulate and protect nerves, organs, bones and internal systems. This macronutrient is crucial for proper nutrient absorption as well as acting as an energy reservoir for your body to dip into when energy is needed.

Additionally, fat helps to signal to the brain that your stomach is full and helps keep your appetite in check. This is pivotal when trying to reduce snacking or meal sizes.

Why Do Macros Matter MORE Than Calories?

The answer to this question is simple. Let’s elaborate…

A calorie deficit IS required for weight loss. This can be achieved by either reducing the amount that you eat or by burning more calories. You need to set your calorie goal for the day, below your maintenance level to see a change in weight.

When only looking at your diet merely from a caloric stand point, one would make meal decisions on calories alone. For example, someone may choose to eat a donut instead of a chicken breast solely due to the fact that the calories are around the same. This example is extreme but the point here is, not taking into consideration the nutrient density of the food. Technically speaking any food combination you eat to stay below your calories needed to lose weight will most likely result in weight loss. The bad news is, it won’t give you the proper nutrition, you won’t be able to efficiently build lean muscle mass or keep your metabolism running optimally.

The important thing about consuming nutrient dense food is, that it is required to feed your muscles and other tissues. In the absence of these types of foods, your body cannot perform the necessary repairs needed to change the composition of your body. Eat foods that are whole and non-processed. Take a look at the chart below.

Now let’s look at how macros come into play. The foods you eat matters, not just calories. Especially, when reducing fat and giving your body what your training regimen requires to excel. Manipulating your calories to your specific goal, will speed up your success and help you stay healthy in order to maintain your meal plan for the long term.

How to Figure Your Macros Out (The Hard Way)

If you would like to calculate your macros yourself and math is your thing-that’s great! You are WAY more ambitious than me. Just for you special people who like that kind of stuff, here is a complete step-by-step guide to working our your marcros!

How To Figure Out Your Macros (The Easy Way)

If you would like to easily figure out the amount of each macroutrient you would need to consume in your day, in order to reach your fitness goals then you are in luck. There are bountiful macro calculators that do this for you. You can also download apps like My Fitness Pal. This particular app has a helpful pie graph where you log your food, that indicates how much of each macro you have consumed.

Another option is to hire a nutritionist, dietitian, or a professional in the field to do it for you. Macros inc. actually has a great calculator with lots of helpful coaches and tons of information to benefit from. My ultimate favourite Macro calculator is found here, I really believe this one is the most accurate one I have found!

In Conclusion…

Ideally, your best bet is to use macros in order to reach your fitness goals. It is customized to you as an individual. You can take into account a more specific goal instead of just eating below a random amount of calories that you believe is ideal for your weight loss or muscle gaining goals. Using your macros instead of solely counting calories will get you where you want to be faster. In the game of body transformation, macros are king!

How do you calculate your MACROS? Do you have a calculator that you swear by? Comment below and let us know!

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