Chances are you’ve seen or heard the term “macros” on social media, but many people don’t know what they are and why they matter. “Macros” is actually short for macronutrients, which are the elements that make up the caloric content of the food you eat, i.e. protein, carbs and fat. Some believe that the ratio of protein to carbs to fat you consume can affect the amount of fat you burn, the muscle you build and the overall shape of your body.
While that may be true for some, macros, and diets in general, are never one-size-fits-all. That’s why it’s essential to calculate your own macro counts as opposed to following somebody else’s. Even someone who weighs as much as you do, and shares the same fitness goals might not reflect your same macro count, because it’s not simply a numbers game. To wrap our heads around the minutia of macros, we spoke to Nutrition Guru, Blogger and Content Director of Mealplan, Amanda Meixner.
“There’s no one right way to determine your macros. One might work better for you over the other, for instance some people might prefer a higher fat diet to a higher carb diet,” Meixner says.
“At the end of the day what matters most is if you’re hitting your calorie goals. Your macro counts mostly determine how you feel.”
What Are Macros?
Simply put, macros are the macronutrients that make up the calories in your food: protein, fat and carbs.
Protein is an essential building block for every cell in the human body. It is the foundation of your bones, muscles, skin, and blood, as well as your hormones and enzymes. Getting the right amount of protein on a daily basis promotes overall bodily function and will help you get better results from your workouts. Protein is found in meat and animal products, as well as plant-based sources like beans and quinoa.
“I think all cuts of meat are great and I think it’s good to eat a variety of types of meat,” Meixner says. “For example, white fish is leaner and so is chicken breast, but if you can afford grass fed organic red meat, that’s great, too.
“Red meat has a lot of benefits, actually; it’s a great high quality source of protein, usually high in iron and has CLA and omega 3 fatty acids.”
For the herbivores among us, tofu, tempeh, chickpeas and seitan are all great protein options; however, their carb content may affect your macro counts.
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Some of my favorite protein sources! 🍳 It’s important to vary your protein sources to get the different benefits from each. . Also, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to buy pasture-raised chicken & eggs, grass-fed beef & bison and wild salmon when you can!🍃 It’s not the meat that has inflammatory properties but if they’re fed a diet of grains & antibiotics with little to no sunshine that can be detrimental to your health!❤️ . Below is a breakdown of the some of the different benefits of each protein source. P.S. if you want some plant based sources of protein next leave a comment below. . Pasture-Raised Chicken: high protein source, lean, a good source of vitamin B6 & niacin. (Source 1) . Wild-caught salmon: high in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, selenium, vitamins B3, B6, B5 and potassium. (Source 1) . Grass-fed beef: high in conjugate linoleum acid which has been shown in studies to lower cancer risk (source 2 & 3) & packed with omega-3 fatty acids & antioxidant vitamins. . Grass-fed bison: a lean source of protein, high in vitamin B12, zinc, selenium, niacin & iron. (Source 4) . Pasture-Raised Eggs: high in choline, omega-3 fatty acids, contain carotenoids which are important for your eyes (lutein and zeaxanthin) plus packed with more vitamins & minerals. (Source 5) . Inspired by @sarah.j.murphy Source 1: https://draxe.com/protein-foods/ Source 2: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Conjugated+linoleic+acid.+A+powerful+anti-carcinogen+from+animal+fat+sources. Source 3: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11525591 Source 4: https://draxe.com/bison-meat/ Source 5: https://draxe.com/health-benefits-of-eggs/ . #protein #proteinsources #iifym #iifymgirls #cooking #chicken #ifitfitsyourmacros #mealprep #myfitnesspal #knowyourfood #eattherainbow #foodfacts #meat #healthyfoods #healthyeating #absaremadeinthekitchen #healthytips #meatlover #foodcomparison #makinggains #gains #fitfood #wholefoods #mealprepsunday #whole30 #workoutdaily #paleo #mealprepmonday #salmon
Good fats provide your body with energy and have shown to improve cholesterol levels, and may also decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.
“I love fats, fats are my favorite macros,” Meixner says. “Any nuts like almonds, cashews, or walnuts, and oils like coconut and olive. And who doesn’t love avocados? You can’t forget about avocados.
“Also fatty fish like salmon are great, and olives, not just olive oil, are great, too.”
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Fats are not the enemy! Plus who doesn’t want another excuse to eat more dark chocolate? 🍫 . Our bodies need healthy fats for growth, development and function. Fats, in particular, help the proper function of nerves and brain, maintain healthy skin & other tissues, transport fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E & K, plus so much more. . While you should still watch your portion, make sure to include some healthy fats as a part of a healthy diet & healthy weight loss routine. More info on each below (and make sure to check out my 101 Healthy Snacks Ebook link in bio! http://www.101healthysnacks.com): . Brazil nuts – top source of selenium which is crucial for many bodily functions from mood to fighting inflammation. . Dark chocolate – Made from the seed of the cocoa tree, chocolate is one of best sources of antioxidants on the planet. . Olives – are very high in vitamin E and other powerful antioxidants. Studies also show this healthy fat to be good for the heart. . Avocados – are rich in monounsaturated fats, which raise good cholesterol and lowers bad cholesterol. They’re also packed with Vitamin E. . Almonds – include monounsaturated fats, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins like riboflavin and trace minerals like magnesium. . Eggs – a complete protein, whole eggs are packed with nutrients like choline, vitamins D, B6, B21 and minerals. . Sunflower seeds – are rich in the B complex vitamins, which are essential for a healthy nervous system, and are a good source of phosphorus, magnesium, iron + more. . Coconut oil – is high in medium chain triglycerides, which are metabolized quicker than other fats. These fats are responsible for a lot of the health benefits like boosting brain function, protecting skin, hair and nails +more. . Chia seeds – are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, rich in antioxidants, and they provide fiber, iron, and calcium. . . . #cleaneating #healthyeating #nutrition #cleaneats #healthyfats #mealprep #paleofood #foodprep #fitfood #protein #weightloss #mealplan #paleo #healthychoices #mealprepsunday #healthyfood #mealprepping #macros #mealprepmonday #flexibledieting #iifym #instahealth #glutenfree #getfit #gains #meals #healthyliving
Carbohydrates, aka carbs, are sugars and starches. They provide energy and can lead to weight gain, which can be a positive or negative outcome depending on your fitness goals. Potatoes, pasta, bread, and fruit all fall into the carbohydrate category.
“There’s a misconception that carbs are bad. I think sometimes carbs get over-demonized, but if you’re super active and trying to lose weight, a certain number of carbs can be beneficial! Glycogen stores are utilized during your work out, so it’s advantageous to replenish those stores with quality carbs at some point in the day.
“Definitely the majority of carbs should be starchy and fiber carbs like sweet potatoes, rice (brown or white, doesn’t matter), and beans are great, too.” Meixner adds. “Some of your carbs should be from fruit, but I wouldn’t overdo your fruit because too much fructose tends to get stored as body fat.”
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Carbs are not the enemy! Whole food, nutritious carbs are packed with vitamins, minerals and are often a great source of fiber 💫 . Refined carbs like chips, white bread or candy cause your glucose to spike faster and won’t leave you feeling as full & satisfied as the unrefined carbs. So while you’d want to save your refined carbs for an occasional treat, having carbs like fruit, sweet potato, etc on a daily basis can leave you feeling energized & fueled for you activity. Details on some of my favorite carbs below: . 1 cup watermelon, diced = 46 cals, 0g fat, 11g carbs 0.6g fiber, 0.9g protein (92% water) . 1/2 cup cooked black beans = 100 cals, 0g fat, 19g carbs 4g fiber, 7g protein. . 1 sweet potato (5” long, 130g) = 112 cals, 0g fat, 26g carbs 3.9g fiber, 2g protein . 1/2 cup overnight oats = 150 cals, 2.5g fat, 27g carbs 4g fiber, 6g protein . 1 cup pineapple, chunks = 82 cals, 0g fat, 22g carbs 2.3g fiber, 0.9g protein . 1/2 cup cooked brown rice = 108 cals, 0.9g fat, 22.5g carbs 1.75g fiber, 2.5g protein . 1 cup blueberries = 85 cals, 0.5g fat, 21g carbs 3.6g fiber, 1.1g protein . 1/2 cup cooked quinoa = 111 cals, 1.8g fat, 19.7g carbs 2.6g fiber, 4g protein . 1/2 cup cooked lentils = 120 cals, 0g fat, 20g carbs 8g fiber, 9g protein. . . . #cleaneating #nutrition #mealprep #foodprep #protein #fitfood #mealplan #weightloss #healthyeating #healthyfood #paleo #mealprepsunday #mealprepping #macros #mealprepmonday #healthychoices #flexibledieting #fruit #iifym #getfit #eathealthy #sweetpotato #cleaneats #healthylifestyle #instafit #gains #meals #healthycarbs
How to Calculate Your Macros
Here is a basic breakdown of how to calculate macros; however, it doesn’t take into account your gender, age, and level of activity, which can make a significant difference. When working toward a fitness goal, what matters most is hitting your optimal calorie target —your macros come second.
“If you’re trying to gain weight, going for high carb macros might be better for you,” Meixner says. “It’s better for muscle gain, but if you’re not in a calorie surplus you’re not going to gain weight. That’s why hitting your calorie target is the most important thing.
“If you’re not working out and you’re sedentary, a higher fat diet is definitely better.”
Pairing a healthy diet with a workout plan will get you the best results, and you’ll feel incredible, too. Need guidance? Try Fitplan FREE for 7 days.
Step 1: Determine your maintenance calories
Maintenance calories are the number of calories you need to eat per day to maintain your current weight.
How to calculate: Your weight (lbs.) x 14 – 15
Step 2: Set your calorie target
Your calorie target is based on your fitness goals, i.e. whether you want to lose weight or build muscle. We recommend a minimum of 1,200 calories a day for women and 1,500 calories a day for men. If your calculated daily target is lower than this, please stick to the recommended minimum or consult your doctor.
How to calculate:
For fat loss: – 500
For muscle gain: +350
Step 3: Set your protein intake
Protein is essential to muscle growth and overall bodily function. Lean proteins like chicken, fish and grass-fed beef are great sources.
How to calculate: Your weight (lbs.) x 1.0 = total grams/day
Calculate your protein calories: Grams of protein x 4
Step 4: Set your fat intake
Healthy fats power your body and can help regulate cholesterol and overall bodily function.
How to calculate: Your weight (lbs) x .03 = total grams/day
Calculate your fat calories: Grams of fat x 9
Step 5: Set your carb intake
Unprocessed carbs are important for fueling your body through challenging workouts.
How to calculate: Divide your remaining calories by 4.
Now that you’ve figured out your macros, it’s time to start training! Start Fitplan FREE for the first 7 days.