What Are Macros? Why Count Them?

16
Apr

What Are Macros? Why Count Them?

What are macros?

Macronutrients, also known as macros, are the three main groups that make up our calories.  Our calories can be broken down into protein, carbohydrates, and fats. These three groups are what we refer to when using the term macronutrients.  Protein is essential for body composition, muscle building, as well as hormone and immune health. Carbohydrates are a key source of energy given their production of glucose that provides fuel to the brain and central nervous system.  Fats, like carbs, can also be an energy source for the body; however, fats are also essential for manufacturing and balancing hormones, forming cell membranes, and transporting certain vitamins. [1]

Why track macros?

Essentially, when using macros that are calculated to meet your specific goals, you are either reducing or adding overall caloric intake.  However, by more specifically tracking your macronutrients, you are able to make changes to your weight and body composition or maintain a certain physique.  Ultimately by counting our macros, you are developing an understanding of portion sizes and food composition. In doing so you will be able to eat a flexible diet of foods that you enjoy while eating specific quantities to reach your macro goals.  Unlike other popular diets, a macronutrient diet is more specific to individual needs and is not an elimination diet, therefore you can still eat the foods you love in moderation.  In addition to body composition, many people track macros to improve their performance in the gym.  People often report an increase in energy as they are now eating an adequate amount for their training to aid in recovery.

How to calculate macros?

While there are many online calculators available, the best way to ensure that the macro targets you are using are specific to you and your goals is to hire a nutrition coach.  Your macros should be specifically calculated based on individual lifestyle, workout regimen, current bodyweight, body composition or performance goals, and food preference. If you are not in a place to hire a coach, you can start by tracking your food intake without any goals using an app such as MyFitnessPal.  Try to avoid using calculations from the app. After tracking your intake without any targets, try tracking protein to start. As a starting point, you can use your bodyweight in grams for your protein goal. If this goal is far higher than your current intake, start a little lower and work your way up after several weeks as your body adjusts to the change in consumption.  At CrossFit SoCo we are always here to help you reach your goals and have certified nutrition coaches to calculate your macros and help you reach your body composition, wellness, or performance goals. Visit our website for more information.

More than macros.

While macros can help us achieve our physique or performance goals it is important to remember that food is more than just macros.  Macros can help us achieve “food freedom” by gaining a better sense of what foods we need to support our wellness, but it can also become an obsession if we let it.  Another important reason to hire a nutrition coach is to ensure we are not wrecking our hormone function by staying in a deficit for too long or getting frustrated and stressed during a cut or mass phase.  By working with a coach, you will be led through additional and equally important phases including “diet breaks” and “refeed days.” It’s important that we use macros as a tool, but not let it overshadow the other ways we are nourished through our nutrition.  Food is more than just the elements of its composition, it offers us ways to celebrate and connect with those around us.  Food sources and preparation are also what makes our food “healthy” to consume. The people that we are surrounded by or the occasion for the meal can have a significant impact on how the food is perceived by us and used by our body.  Our digestion functions at it’s best when we are in a relaxed state. Therefore, if we are stressed or obsessed with seeing our food as macro numbers rather than medicine for the body, we are missing the point and not going to get the full benefits of what we’re consuming.  We consume more than just our food. The thoughts you have about yourself, your body, and your food are being constantly consumed by you everyday. If you find yourself stressed about your “diet” it may be time for a break or a different approach to tracking.

[1]  https://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia