2.26.2021 – Understanding Macros & Micros
Understanding Macros & Micros
by Traveling Trainers Nutrition Coach Alex Andujar
February 26, 2021 –
So What Exactly Are Macros?
The biggest trend in fitness and nutrition over the past few years has been flexible dieting and tracking your macros. But what exactly are macros? No, we aren’t talking about those things in Microsoft Excel. Simply put, all foods are made up of macronutrients and micronutrients.
- Macronutrients are the main categories that make up the calories we find in food. There are three macronutrients – protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
- Micronutrients on the other hand are the smaller nutrients we find in food such as vitamins and minerals.
Protein is arguably the most important macronutrient there is. Protein has a ton of benefits including muscle retention, building, and repair. Protein also has the highest thermic effect on your digestion. This means it takes your body more energy to digest it thus giving your metabolism a slight boost every time you consume protein. Another beautiful feature of protein? It keeps you fuller for longer. This means if you’re trying to lose weight eat more protein!
Protein is 4 calories per gram. Most conventional research shows you should aim to eat anywhere from .5-1.2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight depending on your goals and activity. This means a 200lbs person should consume anywhere from 100-240g of protein per day.
Examples of good protein sources: chicken breast, chicken thighs, lean ground beef (90% or higher), ground buffalo, sirloin steak, flank steak, pork tenderloin, egg whites, whey powder, Greek yogurt, most deli meats, and turkey breast.
l calories are created equal which is where macros come into play. Each macronutrient contains a different number of calories and affect you in a different way, Let’s break each of these down.
Carbs are the one macro people absolutely love to villainize. When people think of carbs they generally think of foods like chips, cookies, cake, and all of those sorts of delectable treats. While it’s true that those foods HAVE carbs in them, they are also generally very high in fat. Most people aren’t going to gain a bunch of weight eating things like fruit which are mostly made up of carbohydrates.
Carbs are our bodies preferred method of energy. Our body breaks carbohydrates down into glycogen which is then stored in our muscles. Our bodies then use our glycogen stores for short bursts of energy such as working out in a gym.
Like protein, carbs are 4 calories per gram. The number of carbohydrates you want to consume should absolutely be based around your goals, even more so than protein. If your goal is to lose weight you’ll want to consume less carboydrates. A good starting place is generally around 35% of your overall caloric intake.
The other thing to know about carbohydrates is right in the word. CarboHYDRATES. Your body generally stores 3-4g of water per gram of carbohydrate you consume. This is why a lot of people think they lose a lot of weight at the beginning of a diet phase. As soon as you cut carbs, your body releases the extra water it was holding onto hence the decrease in weight. Something to consider for the future!
Examples of good carbohydrates: fruit, vegetables, rice, whole wheat pasta, regular potatoes, sweet potatoes, quinoa, oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and beans.
Like carbs, fat has also been demonized in the past leading to all sorts of crazy diet fads. The truth of the matter? Fats are an important piece to overall nutrition. Now, don’t go running off to start your keto diet just yet. Fats are certainly not the end all, be all.
Fats help with all sorts of functions within our body. Fat helps regulate and produce many of our hormones. They provide our bodies with a certain amount of energy. Fat also helps our cells grow as well as provides a layer of insulation to help keep us warm. This is why many people get colder easier when they lose a lot of body fat.
Fat is higher in calories than protein and carbohydrates. They are 9 calories per gram. This is why you have to be careful with how much fat you have in your diet. It can add up quick. In terms of consumption, fats should make up at least 25% of your overall caloric intake. When you dip below 25% you’re putting yourself at risk for various hormonal irregularities.
Examples of good fat sources: grass fed butter, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, avocados, most nuts, eggs, fatty fish such as salmon or fresh tuna, most nut butters.
And What About Micronutrients?
This section is going to be short and sweet. Micronutrients, as mentioned above, are the smaller components that make up food. We’re talking all of the vitamins and minerals we need to have a well-rounded, healthy diet. I’m not going to get into every single vitamin and mineral in the world because there are a ton of them. It’s important to know that getting them in from natural food sources will always trump using a multivitamin. That’s not to say a multivitamin is bad, but food always wins. The easiest way to get them all in is by eating the rainbow. Make sure you’re eating foods of various colors and you’ll likely get a good number of micronutrients into your diet.
Check out our previous blog post 1.24.2021 – Ultimate Guide to Supplements
By now you hopefully have a good understanding of what macronutrients and micronutrients are and why they’re so important to your overall diet. Have more questions or want a further in depth explanations or want to get your macros and micros in line? Reach out to us at Traveling Trainers as we’d love to help!