Calculating macronutrients isn’t necessary for everyone. However, it is a resource that can be helpful for those looking to achieve specific health and fitness goals.
In this article, we'll start from the basics Let’s begin!
What are macros?
When someone talks about macros, they are taking about macronutrients (macros is the short version for macronutrients). And macros refers to the three main types of nutrients that make up the calories in our food: carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
- Carbohydrates are the body's primary source of energy. They are broken down into glucose, which is used by our cells for fuel. We eat carbohydrates when we have fruits, vegetables, grains, and sugars.
- Protein is involved in many metabolic processes, including hormone and enzyme production. And it is key for building and repairing tissues, such as muscle and bone. We have protein in the meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, and nuts.
- Fat is important for maintaining healthy skin and hair, insulating and protecting organs, and helping the body absorb certain vitamins. We find fats in the nuts, oils, seeds, and fatty fish.
Each macronutrient plays a role in our nutrition and in our bodies. Therefore, all three must be present in a balanced diet on a daily basis. However, the amount of each macronutrient depends on the characteristics of the person, such as age, gender, height, weight, activity level, etc. That is why, it is important that you know your individual macronutrient needs to ensure that you are fueling your body based on your own needs.
Should I track my macros?
Yes, if you are trying to achieve specific goals, such as losing weight, building muscle, compete, etc. Why? Because only measuring, you will be able to improve and advance towards your goals.
Tracking macros help you become aware of what you are eating and make the changes you need, ensuring you are getting the right balance of nutrients to support those goals.
That being said, tracking macros can also be a time-consuming task and may not be useful for everyone.
If you are generally healthy and don't have specific fitness goals, you may be able to achieve a balanced diet by simply focusing on eating a variety of food and listening to your body.
As mentioned, macros vary depending on the characteristics and circumstances of each person. So if you are unsure whether you should track your macros or not, the best decision you can take is to consult with a nutritionist who can bring you a proper answer and a personalized guidance.
Below we leave you a list of advantages and disadvantages of macro-focused nutrition, so you can consider it and have a more informed decision after talking to a professional in nutrition.
In my personal experience
As a fitness enthusiast, I have always had a deep desire to compete in bodybuilding competitions. However, despite my rigorous workouts and strict dietary regimen, I was unable to achieve the desired results.
That's when I discovered the power of macros - a technique for monitoring macronutrients like proteins, carbohydrates, and fats to optimize body composition. With the guidance of a trainer, I began to track my macros carefully, ensuring that my diet aligned with my body's requirements.
Within a few weeks, I noticed significant changes in my physique. My muscles became more defined, and my body fat percentage dropped rapidly. My energy levels increased dramatically, and I felt healthier and more confident than ever before.
By continuing to monitor my macros, I discovered that I could maintain a healthy weight effortlessly while still enjoying the foods I liked. I no longer deprived myself of occasional indulgences; instead, I incorporated them into my overall meal plan.
After months of unwavering dedication and hard work, I was finally prepared to compete. With my macros impeccably balanced and my body in top condition, I walked onto the stage feeling self-assured and proud of my achievements. And it was worth it - I placed in the top three in my category.
But winning the competition wasn't the only benefit. By tracking my macros, I have gained valuable knowledge and skills that have helped me lead a healthier, more youthful life. It's amazing how minor adjustments can significantly impact your physical well-being and overall quality of life.
Advantages of macro-focused nutrition
If you are considering to start tracking your macronutrient intake, here you have some advantages:
- It builds awareness of the nutrient you are taking
By tracking your macronutrients, you will become consciously aware of the types and amounts of nutrients you are consuming. With this information in mind, you will choose the food that meets your needs.
Besides, it emphasizes balance and moderation rather than restriction.
- It allows creating a balanced diet
Tracking your macronutrient intake will help you to ensure you are having the right balance of nutrients, so you can consume a higher variety of food. And therefore, by consuming the right balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat, you will optimize your body's ability to burn fat, build muscle, and perform at its best.
- It enhances the athletic performance
Consuming the right balance of macronutrients helps athletes perform more efficiently by providing the energy required. By tracking their macronutrient intake, athletes can ensure that they are fuelling their bodies with the nutrients they need to perform at their highest level.
Tracking macros helps you stay accountable to your goals and monitor your progress over time.
- It facilitates a personalized nutrition
As mentioned, everyone's nutrient needs are unique, as well as their taste and daily responsibilities.
Following a macro-focused nutrition allows you to personalize your meals as you want. Unlike many other diets that restrict certain food groups or require strict meal planning, macro-focused nutrition allows for flexibility in food choices.
You just need to adjust the amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fat you consume to support your fitness or weight loss goals. As long as you are meeting your macro goals, you can choose the foods you enjoy.
- It educates in nutrition
Macro-focused nutrition approach obliges you to learn, so it provides education on the nutritional content of different foods and how they impact in your body. This leads to a better understanding of how to fuel the body in a correct way.
Again, note that macro-counting nutrition isn’t for everyone, and at Synerys we highly encourage you to send us or another nutritionist a message in order to study your case. Looking for a nutritionist in Zurich? Contact me!
Disadvantages of macro-focused nutrition
As everything in life, macro-focused nutrition has advantages and disadvantages. Now it is the time for reviewing some of its cons:
- It is time-consuming
Tracking your macros can be time-consuming, especially at first when you are learning how to do it properly. This can make it challenging to maintain over the long term.
- It is difficult to follow in certain social situations
It can be complex to count macros when eating out or at a restaurant. In fact, it is hard to accurately estimate the exact macronutrient content of every food you eat.
- It lacks of emphasis on micronutrients
While tracking macros help ensure that you are getting the right balance of macronutrients, it doesn’t necessarily ensure that you are getting all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients.
It's important to weigh both the advantages and disadvantages of macro-focused nutrition and consider whether it is a suitable approach for your individual needs and goals.
How do I calculate the macros?
Calculating your macros is a process. First of all, you need to research about you and understand the amounts of carbohydrates, protein, and fat that you should be consuming on a daily basis. Here are the basic steps to calculate your macros:
- We will start by finding out our total daily calorie based on our goals. We have developed an online calculator to speed up this step. This calculator takes into account your age, gender, weight, height, and activity level to estimate how many calories you need to maintain, lose, or gain weight.
- Then, we need to calculate our carbohydrate, protein and fat needs:
- A general rule of thumb is to consume around 1 gram of protein per kg of weight. And if you are looking to build muscle or lose weight, around 0.8 grams per kg.
- A general recommendation is to have around 0.4 grams of fat per kg of body weight.
- To determine your daily carbohydrate intake, simply subtract your protein and fat calories from your total daily calorie needs and divide the remainder by 4 (since carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram).
- Once we have calculated the macros, you can use start tracking them.
You can calculate the macros in your food:
- Using a tracking app
There are many apps to log the food and related macros you eat. Some apps even allow you to scan the barcode of packaged foods, so it is easier to track food.
Find SYNERYS APP here!
- Using online databases
There are also several online databases, that provide macronutrient information for a wide range of foods.
- Reading labels and weighing your food
Most packaged foods have a nutrition facts label that lists the macronutrient content per serving. Be sure to check the serving size and adjust the macronutrient values accordingly if you are consuming more or less than one serving. We’ll be explaining how to read labels in next posts, so stay tuned!
And, if you are preparing your own meals at home, you can weigh and measure the ingredients to calculate the macronutrient content. You can then use an online nutrition calculator or app to determine the macronutrient content of the entire recipe.
⚠️ When calculating your macros, have in mind the serving size and is characteristics of preparation method of the food. For example, the macronutrient content of cooked versus raw vegetables may differ, and adding oils or sauces to a dish can significantly increase the fat and calorie content.
That’s it, now the difficult part is to stick to it and stay constant. And remember that tracking macros can be a helpful tool, but it's not necessary for everyone.
Eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of whole foods can provide all the necessary macronutrients without the need for tracking.
If you are unsure about whether you should track your macros, and interested in personalized nutrition coaching or advice, take the time to meet me. Contact me if you need professional advice!