knowledge bankNutritionSue says...

Magical Macros

I’m sure you’ve all heard of the term “macros” or “macronutrients”…..after all they are banded about Instagram by anyone and everyone in the fitness world….#macros #iifym #macronutrients

But do you know what they are? And should you care?

Well the answer to the latter question is yes….and here is why:

Before we can answer “why” we need to understand what macros are and why we need them! Macros are the building blocks of all food and there are 3 of them; proteins, fats and carbohydrates.  Our bodies need the first two: protein for cell growth/renewal and fats for hormone regulation. Carbohydrates, on the other hand, are not needed for survival but they are a good source of fuel for our bodies and most of us enjoy eating them!

So, let’s take a peek at protein in more detail…..if you are looking to build muscle it is the amino acids that make up protein that will result in the muscle growth (together with resistance training of course!)….if you are looking to lose fat then consuming high levels of protein will help to ensure that you reduce muscle wastage when you exercise.  Higher levels of protein will also help you to feel fuller for longer, thus reducing the risk of overeating and ensuring you stay in the calorie deficit that is required for fat loss (more on this on another blog!). So, as you can see protein is pretty key to your physique goals!

A focus on fats next!  In order to maintain a balance, or homeostasis, in our bodies our hormones need to do their job properly (they need to be in balance too), and without a certain level of fat in our bodies that is virtually impossible.  It is therefore vital that at least 15% of our daily calories come from healthy fats (think olive oil, oily fish, nuts, seeds etc).

Finally let’s critique carbs!  Carbs are a fantastic fuel source and, in my opinion, should not be stripped from our diets completely (despite the science telling us that our bodies do not need them for survival).  Who would want to live a life without the occasional pizza, the odd bacon sandwich or birthday cake? However, as with most foods some carbs are better than others; a sugary donut is not going to keep you full for long (it tastes good though hey?) but a steamy bowl of porridge should keep you going for a few hours….it is these slow release carbs that we should focus on the majority of the time, keeping those sugary treats as just that – treats.

OK, I hear you: “you’ve told me the science now tell me why it matters!”

Each of these food types contains calories and the more calories we consume above/below our daily requirements the more weight we will gain/lose, so knowing the calorific value of each macronutrient helps us to ensure we stay within our target calories whilst still enjoying a full, varied and, most importantly, balanced diet.  And here are the all important figures: protein and carbs give us 4kcals per gram, whilst fat contains 9kcal per gram, and as an aside, alcohol is 7kcal per gram. As already said though, we need to ensure we eat sufficient protein to maintain our muscle and enough fat to maintain our hormone balance….so once we have worked out the calories we need in the form of protein and fats we can then eat freely for the remainder of our calorie allowance, safe in the knowledge that we are fuelling our bodies properly whilst still eating for our goal – that has to be a win, win surely??

If you’ve enjoyed this blog why not grab my free guide giving you my 5 top tips on how to lose weight whilst still enjoying the foods you love…just click on the button below to grab the guide now

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