macronutrients

Understanding Macronutrients

I’ve been getting a lot of questions regarding macronutrients, or macros. What are they? What purpose do they serve? How can you calculate yours? All great questions and critical to understanding if you’re looking to change your body.

What are Macronutrients?

Nutrients are found in food and are required by the body for growth, energy and daily body functions. Macronutrients are nutrients needed in large amounts to sustain growth, energy and daily roles and split into three categories – carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. You can read more about each macronutrient here. For the most part, everything you consume will fit into one of those three categories. And for the record, booze is a carb. WINK.

What Purpose do Macros Serve?

Carbs are the body’s primary source of energy and are broken down and stored as glucose, which is essential to your body for a multitude of reasons. When consumed in excess, however, glucose will turn into fat and stored which is why portion control is of the utmost importance. Carbs found in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables should make up the majority of the macro. When consumed with other macros (proteins or fats), carbs will most likely be the first thing to be utilized as fuel.

Protein is absorbed and broken down into amino acids for:

  • ‘Building blocks’ in the production of ‘new’ proteins needed for growth and repair of tissues
  • A source of energy
  • Compounds for other bodily functions

Everything from legumes, lean meats, poultry, eggs, quinoa, and Greek yogurt are incredible protein sources.

Fat promotes growth, development, cellular health and helps regulate your body temperature.  Vitamins A, D, E and K are all fat soluble and need fat to be absorbed by the body.

I’m a huge advocate for a high-fat diet. By consuming more fat, you’re able to eat less food while feeling satiated and energized. When a high-fat diet is regulated your body starts to become conditioned to burning fat for fuel. That’s a win! Fat sources include nuts, nut butter, egg yolks, avocados, virgin/cold pressed oils, grass fed butter, etc.

How do you Calculate your Macros?

Just as important as what you’re consuming, you have to consider quantity. That seems simple and like common sense, but is it something you truly practice? There are a couple of ways you can go about splitting protein, carbs and fat.

First, you need to determine your daily caloric intake, which you can do here. Based off of your daily caloric needs you can then split your macros accordingly.

Even(ish) Split: Implemented to maintain a healthy lifestyle

  • Protein: 40%
  • Carbs: 40%
  • Fat: 20%

High Protein/High Carb/Low Fat: Implemented to cut weight or fat 

  • Protein: 50%
  • Carbs: 35%
  • Fat: 15%

High Protein/High Fat/Low Carb: Implemented to gain size or build muscle mass

  • Protein: 30%
  • Carbs: 40%
  • Fat: 30%

A FEW THINGS TO CAVEAT, of course, your body is one of a kind. There is no one magic formula for any one person in any one situation. Each body type will have a different reaction to macro ratios. Play around with it. Adjust. Finesse. Do some grunt work. And don’t email me five days from now and say, “I’m gaining weight!” or “I don’t see any change!” This shit takes time!!! If you’ve gained weight, you’ve got to decrease fats and/or carbs. If you’re losing weight when you want to be putting on size you’ve got to increase fat.

Macronutrient Guidelines

If you’re selecting your macro ratios here are a few rules to remember:

  • Protein = .8-1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight
  • Fat = .3-.6 grams of fat per pound of body weight
  • Carbs are a bit more complicated. Grab your calculator, kiddo. Remember when you had to take math in high school and college?
    • Convert your fat and protein intake from grams to calories.
      • 1 gram protein = 4 calories
      • 1 gram carbohydrate = 4 calories
      • 1 gram fat = 9 calories
    • Subtract the amount you eat in protein and fat from your total caloric goal.

If you hate math, you can use this tool to calculate your macros based on your lifestyle and goals.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when calculating and tracking macros. Stick to the basic foods and be patient with yourself and with your body. Remember, these ratios are a good jumping off point but don’t be afraid to experiment with YOUR body. Sometimes, just by decreasing your carbs or increasing your fats can show incredible results.

Image via Self.

One Comment

  1. Tanya Schneider

    This was incredibly helpful, thank you!!

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