What are macronutrients (macros) and what are their benefits?
Do you frequently hear people saying they are “tracking macros” but you don’t you have much idea what they are talking about?
Although many of you will know what this means, we do still often get asked what macros are and why are they so important?
I could talk in great depth about macros, but for this weeks blog I will be outlining the main benefits and the role that each of them have. Here is where you can decide if it is a method that will suit you.
Your 3 main macronutrients are proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Each one is essential to your daily nutrition intake for various reasons.
Protein (4 Kcal’s per 1g protein)
Consuming adequate high quality protein is the number one priority for anyone looking to achieve long term sustainable fat loss.
Aim to consume a good source of protein with every meal. The main role is to maintain, build and replace muscle fibres. Without getting too technical the more muscle you have and the more exercise you do the more protein your body will require due to the breakdown of muscle fibres.
A very rough guide would be to consume at least 1g protein per pound of your total body weight, but this is only a rough guide and individual circumstances will need to be considered. Again this is something to talk about in a future blog.
Consuming enough protein will also help stabilise your hunger hormones keeping you fuller throughout the day. This will make it easier to stick to a calorie-restricted plan with a main goal of fat loss.
How often have you opted for a bowl of sugar loaded cereal with milk and an hour or so later feel hungry again? This is because higher/sugary breakfasts may fill you up initially but don’t have a very positive impact on your satiety (hunger hormone) levels.
Consuming protein with your first meal of the day will have a far more positive impact on your days and will help promote more positive food choices throughout the day.
Examples of the leanest sources of protein are chicken or turkey breast, tuna and white fish. These are very low in fat which is perfect on a low fat diet.
Other sources such as beef, steak, salmon and mackerel also contain high amounts of protein but they are also higher in fat which results in a higher calorie content per the same gram compared to the leaner choices. This is something to bear in mind when prepping your meals. Higher fat protein sources are a more suitable option if you are following a reduced carb plan as this will help you consume enough calories by consuming more fats.
Carbohydrates (4 kcal’s per 1g carbs)
The main role of carbs is to provide an energy source and to help facilitate the metabolism and breakdown of fats.
The majority of carbs are split into complex carbs and simple carbs.
Complex carbs are by far the healthier choice and should be the main source that you include on your plate. They are higher in fibre and digest slower. They are also more filling which alongside a good protein source will keep you fuller for longer.
There is a never ending debate as to when the best time to consume carbs are but I encourage my clients to consume them with a high quality protein source either 2-3 hours before a workout to provide energy and/or after a workout to repair muscle glycogen levels which assist in muscle repair and recovery.
How many daily carbs you are allowed also plays a role as to when you consume them. If you are looking build muscle then carbs will account for a larger percentage of your daily calories, so you will more than likely be consuming them with the majority of your meals.
Simple (bad) carbs come from foods such as sweets, cereals, cakes etc. If fat loss is your goal, limit these as much as possible…..but we’re all allowed a treat so don’t beat yourself up when you do enjoy one.
Fats (9kcal’s per 1g fat)
The main role of fats is to provide an energy source. They also help suppress hunger between meals because of the slow digestion rate.
Fats are also essential in transporting essential vitamins A,D, and E around the body.
Fats do contain slightly more than double the amount of calories per gram to proteins and carbs so be careful not to over consume them.
Good sources include various nuts and seeds (chia are my favourite), avocado and olive oil.
For the general public fats should take up around 20-30% of your daily calories unless your are on a reduced carb plan in which case they would be slightly higher.
I would also like to stress that this blog only really scratches the surface when describing macros. Here at KM fitness we monitor our clients nutrition every week and adjust their macros and calories accordingly as they progress, whilst educating them along the way.
It is important to remember that when tracking macros you have the correct percentage split and your daily calorie intake matches your goals, so if fat loss is your goal then you will need to be burning off more daily calories than you are consuming. If weight gain is your goal then you need to be consuming more daily calories than you burn.
It really is as simple as that but it is very important to ensure your macronutrient split is balanced to help you with long term sustainability.
There are more advanced methods we frequently use with clients like carb cycling but we won’t go into that today.
I will also point out that this is by no means the only method to use to achieve your goals.
Using fat loss as an example……IF an individual is coming from a recent background of a poor diet and very little exercise and needs to lose weight then jumping straight into tracking calories and macros can be overwhelming and lead to failing. Especially if they do not have a coach supporting or educating them.
Since 2015 we have used a “portion control” method for the large majority of our camps and we have achieved so many amazing transformations using this method.
We have also then gone on to help many of these individuals after Bootcamp through our PT programmes. This is when we will introduce the tracking method if we feel it is necessary.
Achieving your fat loss goals is a journey and like any journey it requires patience and a clear understanding of what it will take and how long it will take to reach your end goal.
We hope this has been helpful and if you require any help or advice regarding your nutrition and meal choices do not hesitate to get in touch.