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Understanding Macros: Part 01 – What are they?

by | Jul 11, 2017 | Nutrition | 0 comments

Ready to have your diet match your training? An important part of dialing in your nutrition is planning your calories, but also what is in those calories. If you eat less calories than you burn, you will likely lose weight. But to meet your goals faster you can change how you are eating those calories. Today we will go over what a macro is, how to track them, and a basic macro ratio to get you going.

What are Macros?

Specific macro plans are used for different goals, we will discuss this in a future article in the series. For now, lets get an understanding of what macros are. Macros, or Macronutrients, are molecules that our bodies use to create energy for themselves. The three main types of macros are fat, protein and carbs. They are found in all foods in varying amounts, measured in grams on the nutrition labels.

How to Track my Macros?

Now that you have an understanding of what macros are, let’s go over ways to track them. Firstly, you need to plan your meals. If you just eat food as it comes it will become very difficult to stay within your desired macro ratio. I personally use an app called MyFitnessPal. This app by Under Armour has a very large database of food information. It allows you to scan your food’s barcodes and auto populates the nutrition and serving information for you. I find this to be extremely efficient for my meal planning.

Another option is to manually calculate your macros—here’s the key part—write them down in your notebook. Nutritional databases like MyFitnessPal can offer incredibly precise breakdowns of micronutrients, but to begin just follow the big ones: calories, fats, carbs, protein. You will realize rather quickly that macronutrient quantities are rarely whole numbers, so for now keep it easy, just round to .50 grams. Now comes the fun part, calculate your percentages or ratios.

An Example:

  • Protein = 180 grams (x 4 = 720 calories)
  • Carbs = 180 grams (x 4 = 720 calories)
  • Fats = 90 grams (x 9 = 810 calories)
  • Total calories = 2250

Now divide each section by the total, i.e. 720/2250 = 0.32 or 32%. This person’s macro is 32/32/36. It’s that easy!

Getting Started

So where do we go from here? Now that you can calculate your own macros, it’s time to choose a macro plan. There are classic ratios you can start with, like 40/40/20, but these should be guidelines, not rules. You will not be able to predict how this will make you feel or affect your training.

Try 40/40/20, and if you’re always hungry, try increasing your protein. If you find your energy is lacking, try increasing your fats. When planning your nutrition, always try to find the right balance between your goals and how you feel. Also, don’t go crazy with the calculations. Get as close as you can to your macros. Eating roughly 40/40/20 is better than not knowing at all or guessing.

Coming next week: Different Macro Plans for specific goals

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