Macronutrients. Macros. Macro tracking. Ever heard these terms before and wondered “What the heck are these people talking about?”
Well, if so, keep reading…
When you think “macro”, think “large” or “big”. Macronutrients are nutrients that we need to consume in large quantities for energy, or calories. There are three main macronutrients: protein, fats and carbohydrates. Each macronutrient has a caloric value per one gram. Protein and carbs each have 4 calories per one gram. Fats have a higher caloric value at 9 calories per one gram.
Here’s a working example using the label on a jar of peanut butter:
Peanut Butter (2 TBSP serving)
Now, multiply each macronutrient by its respective number of calories. Add the calories together for the total number of calories per 2 Tablespoons of Peanut Butter.
Fats: 16g x 9 calories=144 calories
Carbs: 5g x 4 calories=20 calories
Protein: 8g x 4 calories= 32 calories
Total=196 calories per serving!
(That’s a lot of calories for 2 tablespoons of food! Thankfully, peanut butter is loaded with good fats, though they still must be eaten in moderation.)
If you ever finding yourself looking closely at these numbers and calculating them, you may notice that some labels might not have the correct number of calories disclosed. This is a whole other topic of conversation but it is good to note that sometimes the labels do not disclose all of the information and it is important for you, as a consumer, to know how many nutrients you’re really getting in your foods.
The reason why it is so important to understand macronutrients is because each one plays a huge role in body composition, energy levels, and overall health. Over the years, I have become an advocate for counting my macros to produce fitness related results such as: fat loss, weight gain, muscle gain and maintenance. I enjoy and prefer this method because 1. It works! and 2. I am just slightly OCD and the idea of tracking my numbers to perfection each day makes me happy. It’s because of this obsessive compulsive disorder that I hate sharing my food! The struggle becomes very real when my toddler sees I have something different on my plate and she suddenly has no interest in her own food anymore. She becomes very adamant about eating my macros and I’m inclined to share because, well, she’s just so darn cute. Lucky little girl 😉
Over time as a trainer and fitness nutrition specialist, I’ve worked with different clients that have different preferences. I understand that not everyone enjoys the constant and tedious tracking of everything they put in their mouths and that’s okay. Thankfully, I have the ability to accommodate to their individual needs as well. The most important thing to understand is the manipulation of your macronutrient intake will determine your overall results, whatever they may be. It is important to understand the ways in which each macro is utilized within the body and how to eat according to your goals, your body type and to achieve overall health.