If you've ever been confused by the world of food and macros then this article will be great for you as we make sure that you know your macros inside and out.
Here's a guide on how to address Macro-nutrients (macros); how to best utilise them on a daily basis and how you can use macros to your advantage in order to develop your physique to its full potential.
So first up what are macros?
Marcos (macronutrients) are the carbohydrate, protein and fat quantities within our food, the minerals and vitamins within our food are known as micronutrients. All three of our macros play a vital part in our diet, reflecting in our physical appearance or performance. There are so many diets out there that suggest different methods of manipulating your macros to achieve your personal goal, hopefully this article will help break down each macronutrient and what their purpose is so you can decide which path you want to follow.
Protein is largely used by the body to build, repair and maintain not only body tissue (muscle) but also our, hair, skin and nails. No matter which diet you follow or your goal you need a complete lean source of protein with every meal, even if you’re trying to minimise body fat.
One ongoing debate is how much protein would someone need on a daily basis? This ranges from 1g to up to 2g or protein per pound of body weight. As a general rule of thumb, you should aim for 1/1.5g per pound of body weight. Another point to note is that 1g of protein equates to 4 calories so as an example; a 190lb male looking to gain muscle could calculate up to 285g of protein (190lbs x 1.5g) which would equate to 1,140 of his daily calories.
Complete sources of Protein:
✔ Lean red meat,
✔ Whey Protein Concentrate,
✔ Whey Isolate,
✔ Hydrolysed Whey,
✔ Micellar Casein,
✔ Egg Albumen,
✔ BCAA (branch chained amino acids)
Don’t panic, again you need carbohydrates in your diet wither your looking to lose body fat or gain muscle. We've heard so many times from both males & females that they're on a “no carb diet” which is increasing with the paleo craze.
Initially carbohydrates are the bodies favoured choice of energy source and can be found in:
✔ Plant Based Foods,
✔ Fruits & Vegetables.
To give you a better understanding, our bodies convert carbohydrates into glucose, which provides the desired energy for our bodies metabolic activity, physical performance and our day to day tasks. So what happens if you have too many carbs? Too much glucose right? Correct! If we produce too much glucose our bodies will store it within our liver and muscle cells as glycogen, to be used when we need that extra burst of energy. Any excess glycogen we produce which can’t be stored in the liver or muscle cells is turned in to fat, hence this misconception that any amount of carbs are bad and that carbs equal fat! Wrong!
There are two different type of carbs, simple carbs (fast releasing) and complex carbs (slow releasing). 1g of both simple and complex carbs equates to 4 calories, just like protein.
Simple carbs are found in process foods and foods containing refined sugar which are easily broken down and digested into our bodies (Pop tarts for example), meaning they’ll go straight into our bloodstream, giving us a quick release of energy.
Complex carbs are found in pretty much all plant based foods and take longer for the body to digest than simple carbs such as:
✔ Sweet potato,
Unlike simple carbs our body breaks them down at a slower rate by the digestive system giving us a slow release of energy.
Like carbohydrates, fats are branded bad. If you eat fat, you get fat, again wrong! Fats are actually a highly important macronutrient in our diets, used for good health, insulating our body, protecting our organs and used for fuel. The majority of foods that contain fat are a combination of essential fatty acids (EFA’s), Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA’s) and Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA’s).
The majority of our fat should be coming from unsaturated fats, both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. Any trans fats should be avoided at all times. As for fat ratios between the different types of fats, you should be looking to have half of your intake from unsaturated fats however in a perfect world it’d be 33% saturated 33% monounsaturated and 33% polyunsaturated.
All fats, including essential fatty acids are high in calories unlike protein and carbohydrates as 1g of fat equates to 9 calories so take that into consideration when calculating your calories for the day.
So now you know about the different macronutrients the next question is how to calculate your own. In order to work out your own personal macro allowance I suggest using the Katch McArdle formula (below) to calculate your own basal metabolic rate (BMR):
Once you’ve worked out your BMR its then converted by your activity levels which is dependent on your training and daily activities.
1.2 = Sedentary (little or no exercise)
1.3 – 1.4 = Lightly Active (1-3 days a week)
1.5 – 1.6 = Moderately Active (3-5 days a week)
1.7 – 1.8 = Very Active (6-7 days a week)
1.9 – 2.0 = Extremely Active (Twice per day)
Maintenance Calories = BMR x Activity Level
Now you understand how to calculate macros for maintenance it’s time to add between 300-500 extra calories if you want to ‘bulk’ or decrease if you’re looking to cut. We would always suggest that you slowly increase or decrease your calories rather than just upping them by 500 straight away. Now that you have your target calories for the day you can break down the amount of protein, carbs and fats you have based on your goal and from part 1 and 2 of the Know Your Macros articles.
I hope this article has helped give people a basic idea of the individual macro nutrients, what they’re used for and where they’re sourced to help making your food choices easier and more sensible!
By Lee Malone
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