Macros are all the rage now, especially around CrossFit gyms and fitness enthusiasts. Macros were also the foundation behind developing Perfect Fuel Meals. So what do “macros” even mean? Here is a breakdown of what macros are, how they work, and why you should pay attention to them.
Macros is an abbreviated term for the word macronutrients. Macronutrients consist of carbohydrates, protein and fat. That means everything you eat, is considered a carbohydrate, a protein or a fat. There are also micronutrients, which are vitamins and minerals.
Let’s explore examples of each macronutrient. Carbohydrates include bread, pasta, potatoes, fruit, vegetables, rice and quinoa. Yes, vegetables are also considered carbohydrates! Within carbs, there are simple carbs and complex carbs. Simple carbs include things like sugar, candy and cookies. We want to avoid these. However, we want to include complex carbs in our diets because they provide, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Examples of complex carbs are oats, sweet potatoes, quinoa, vegetables and beans. All carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram.
Our second macronutrient is protein. Protein sources include chicken, beef, lamb, turkey, pork, eggs and fish. Foods like beans, nuts and seeds also contain protein but a much smaller amount. It’s best to get a variety of protein sources throughout the day for optimal nutrition. Protein has 4 calories per gram.
Last but not least, the third macronutrient is fat. Fat sources include grass-fed butter, almond butter, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds. Animal protein also contains fat, as do some carbohydrates. A high quality fat is essential for our health. Fat helps us regulate and produce hormones, keeps us feeling full after meals, and keeps our hair, nails, and organs healthy. It is crucial to get your fat sources through whole foods and not processed foods. Fats from processed foods like hydrogenated oils can actually harm our body. Fat is also the most calorically dense macronutrient, proving 9 calories per gram.
What is the point of calculating our macros? It’s a way to keep your nutrient needs on track throughout the day. If you know your daily macronutrient requirements, you can do some simple math to figure out how much you can eat daily. This way, you never really have to worry or wonder if you are eating too much, too little or going over any of your macros.
Stay tuned to part 2 of “All About Macros” where we will show how to do your own macro calculations.
Liza M. Scott MS, RD, CISSN