When the majority of the fitness community say “macros”, they are referring to the three macronutrients that account for their total caloric intake. These are protein, carbohydrate and fat. The term “macros” became popular once people started adapting the IIFYM(If It Fits Your Macros) diet. This form of flexible dieting allows just about anyone to consume any food, regardless of it being a whole food or process food, as long as you can reach your desire macros for either losing weight, maintaining weight or gaining weight. Each macronutrient has foods that fall within their category and have specific benefits to the human body. Continue reading below to learn more about how macros can help enhance your fitness journey.
If you’ve ever done a workout and you were left sore for days, it could be in fact of lack of protein. Protein is the main component for muscles to recover from strength training exercises. Working out simply means breaking down muscle fibers. Protein helps repair muscle fibers and generates new protein for muscle growth. This is very important to understand. Regardless if your goal is to lose weight or gain weight, adequate amounts of protein will help with recovery from your workout session. Protein can be found in foods such as seafood, poultry, lean beef, eggs, soy, yogurts, etc. If you struggle with getting a sufficient amount of protein for your current body and activity level, look into purchasing a whey, grass fed or vegan powder to supplement your diet. If you can’t recover from your workouts, you won’t make much progress. No matter how hard you train in the gym, without enough protein, you’ll never build the muscle you’d like.
Carbohydrates on the other hand is our body’s main source of energy. This is why we feel such a rush of energy when consuming simple sugars. Carbohydrates help fuel our brain, kidneys, muscles, heart and central nervous system. If you want to have an amazing workout, consuming carbohydrates 1-2 hours prior to your session will give you fuel you need. Carbohydrates have been getting a bad reputation over the years as far as weight gain. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, eating any of the three macro nutrients in unnecessary large quantities can cause weight gain not just carbs! A few carbohydrate sources are bread, rice, oatmeal, pasta, cereal, beans, sweet potatoes, fruits, etc. Similar to how the gym has many tools to help you reach your goals, carbohydrates is a tool you use in your diet to help you power through your day and finish your workout strong.
Fats can sometimes be tricky for most to understand. The easiest way to explain fats is by saying that “all fats are not created equal”. Let’s cover the bad fats first. Saturated fat can be found in animal sources of foods such as full fat diary, red meat & poultry. Trans fat is usually found in cakes, donuts, microwave popcorn & margarine. While trans fat lowers healthy HDL cholesterol and saturated fat increase blood cholesterol levels, they both increase unhealthy LDL cholesterol which increases your risk of cardiovascular disease also known as a heart attack or stroke. These are the fats you want to avoid to be main sources of your diet. Individuals who have died from cardiovascular disease have had a history of consuming these fats which only contributed to their risk. I’m not saying don’t eat them at all. But limited them in your daily diet will keep you healthy and will prevent visit to the doctor’s office in the future.
While carbohydrates is the main source of energy, our bodies uses fat when carbohydrates are low or not being consumed. This is why when weight loss is goal, most trainers/coaches start decreases carbohydrates for their clients in order to lower their body fat. Fat is essential to our health and they support several body functions from vitamin absorption to regulating our body temperature. Its never a good idea to completely cut fat out of your diet. Its best to monitor your fat consumption and learn about the good fats you could consume. Monounsaturated fat can be found in nuts, peanut butter, olive oil, etc. and polyunsaturated(Omega-3 included) fats can be found in fish, walnuts, flax seeds, etc. They both have shown to improve blood cholesterol levels which reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. If you’re currently consuming a lot of saturated and trans fats, look into replacing those with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. But make sure your don’t over do it! Fats are very calorie dense including the healthy ones. As long as you consume 10-20% of your total calories assuming your following a well balanced diet, your body will get the nutrients it needs to work the way it was designed.