What are Macros and why should I track them?

Posted by Paul Emmick on

What are Macros and why should I track them?

IIFYM?

If it fits your macros?

What is a macro?


Macro is short for macronutrient. The 3 macronutrients are protein, carbs, and fat. IIFYM is not a new approach to dieting, but there is definitely a better way to approach this than you see on the internet.


I know, I know. If it’s on the internet it has to be true…


When following an IIFYM approach, essentially as long as you hit your target (+/- 5) grams of protein, carbs, and fat at the end of the day, you can essentially have what you want to make that happen. Now, there is a lot of bad information out there, and do not think that eating nothing but pop tarts and peanut butter every day will get you in shape. However, making an appearance one in a while is different.


While ultimately for weight loss it is a simple formula, calories burned has to exceed calories consumed, the more detailed you are with your nutrition obviously the better results you will get. For anyone, athlete or not, who is exercising and trying to get in shape there is an optimal amount of macronutrients your body needs. Some examples include but are not limited to


Protein- 4 calories per gram

Sources- chicken, turkey, beef, eggs

Protein is made up of amino acids. Different amino acids have different functions in the body, assisting with everything from muscle recovery, immune system, cognitive function and so much more. We will focus the BCAAs (branched chain amino acids), Leucine, Isoleucine, and valine. It is important to get enough protein every time you eat to initiate MPS (muscle protein synthesis) to stimulate muscle recovery.


Carbs- 4 calories per gram

Sources- rice, oats, potatoes, bread, quinoa, yams, pasta,

Carbohydrates are energy. If we are not directly burning off what we eat, some get stored in our skeletal muscle as glycogen, while an overabundance will get stored as fat.


Fat- 9 calories per gram

Sources- cheese, nuts, oils (olive, coconut, macadamia), avocado, fatty fish

(notice cheese and nuts are in the FAT category. While there is indeed protein in both of these, there are fat more calories from fat than protein. Nuts are a source of fat with a small amount of protein, not the other way around)

Fats do not (necessarily) make you fat. Too much of anything will make you lose weight, but healthy fats from the above sources can also be used as a source of energy, while omega fats help with quite a bit as well. For example, the EPA derived from Omega 3 is excellent for heart health, and the DHA help with mental cognition and memory. The above fats and oils can also reduce inflammation in the body and lubricate your joints as well.


Your body recognizes macros, not food sources. It doesn’t matter if it is chicken or turkey, once digested it is the amino acids that get utilized, that is all. So, Keeping this principle in mind, if your meal is ½ cup of rice, 4 oz of chicken and ½ tablespoon of olive oil, or a protein shake with oatmeal and peanutbutter, it will all be the same in the end.


As far as the sources and types of carbs, there are some that are better than other in term of quality and glycemic index/load, but I will talk about that in detail another time. If you are eating balanced meals, you will not need to worry too much about that.


As you lose weight and your body changes, your nutrition will need to change too. This may be increases in some numbers, and decreases in others, but just as doing the same workout every day indefinitely will not get you in shape, neither will eating the same thing day in and day out. This is why counting can be so important, and why we include the macros on all of our meals and desserts. . If you do not know what amounts of what macronutrients you are consuming, how on earth do you know what to change? If you are not being consistent with it, you will likely just be going in circles. Enjoy to an extent the flexibility of being able to eat different things very day, satisfy your cravings within reason and stay on board. You WILL see success. This is why we have so many people that are able to lose weight and keep it off eating buffalo chicken wing pasta and pizza wraps, instead of plain oatmeal and boiled chicken. Which would you rather eat?



Now, while there have been studies and human experiments where people essentially lived off Twinkies and lost weight (DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT IT), this is the food that should still be eliminated just as any other approach to nutrition. Calories consumed will always be the biggest factor in pounds lost, but don’t lose sight of your HEALTH. While you can take advantage of having white rice at times instead of brown, and using some sauces and dressings, do you think the preservatives, chemicals and carcinogens that are found in processed prepackaged foods should really still ‘fit’?


Now, I’d be a hypocrit if said I’ve never made a poptart sandwich with peanutbutter and chocolate in between. We don’t want to forget about balance and mental sanity, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that’s not the healthiest choice in food.


My point is you do not have to eat the same things day in and day out. Just like training, you have to be consistent. Mix up your foods and have fun with it so oyu will stick with it, but if we don’t have some sort of measureable metrics, how will we know what to adjust if we are not seeing the progress we want? All you may need to do is cut a few daily carbs out to get things rolling again. Lets work smarter, not harder. There is need to eat boiled chicken and raw broccoli. That is why we have the protein, carbs, and fat listed right on every meal. It does not get any easier than that.


Moderation friends, there is a time and place for everything. That is what we preach and it is true.

If you have questions on where to start to get your own customized macro diet, contact one of Team 95’s coaches today!

Written by: Paul Emmick
Lifestyle Coach

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