What are Macros?

  • By Silviu Bona
  • 03 Jan, 2018

What's the big deal with Macros?

Lately people have been focused on macros in the nutrition world several trends have either resurfaced or are becoming more and more popular. What is the right one for you? The simple answer is I DON'T KNOW. No one does and that's ok. You see, we all process food differently so what may work for me may not work for you. However, there are some basic guidelines that are tested and true. For example, eating a processed, high sugar diet is horrible for you and you'll probably die a lot sooner then you should. 

In all seriousness though, macros are a way we track our nutrition in trying to keep balance. Macros consist of Fats, Carbohydrates and Proteins. Fats being the most dense as 1g of fat is equal to 9 cal, where as 1g or either protein or carbohydrate is equal to 4 cal.  So who do these all fit into our nutrition?  Well, there are several approaches to balancing out these macros. Here are a few that I will lay out in CARB/PROTEIN/FAT as percentages of your daily intake:

High Carb Diet 60/25/15
Zone Diet 40/30/20
Low Carb Diet 25/45/30
Keto Diet 10/15/75

As you can see, some are more balanced then others while others are more extreme. They all play their part in weight gain, maintenance, and weight loss. Each approach to these diets involves whole foods, quality carbs and precisely tracking what you put in your mouth to ensure adequate balance. The high carb diet is used by athletes, especially power athletes who need fuel to perform. If you're trying to add weight "bulk" then a higher carb diet coupled with an increase in steady protein is also going to help. The zone diet is a balanced diet where carbs are just enough to ensure performance, protein is high enough (about 1g/lb of body weight) and fats are generally low. A low carb diet relies on a high intake of protein, which if you notice also has a slightly higher intake of fat. Why, well since you need to take a ton of protein you'll inevitably have trace amounts of fat as well. This is a great diet for building muscle and staying lean, however a low carb diet may not be as sustainable and I'll explain later. Finally, we have the Keto Diet, which is gaining in popularity. I've tried it and liked the mental clarity, the 15lb of weight I shed in 4 weeks, and the absence of inflammation in my body. But I did feel sluggish when trying to go heavy in a workout. There is a time and place for all these diets and you have to decide what is right for you. 

A low carb diet would be great for learning how to whole food like meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit little starch and no sugar. Sound familiar? It should, it's the Paleo approach to nutrition, which many like. If you'd like to lean out this is a great diet. As mentioned above, Keto is also a great way to shed unwanted weight. 

The Zone diet is interesting since it's more of a maintenance diet. I'm not saying you can't lose weight with a zone, since all you have to do is start with 200-250cal less of you daily maintenance and subscribe to the macros outlined above. What I do mean is that zone seems to be the easiest to maintain long term. Zone utilizes blocks to make macro counting easy, but with the growth in popularity of apps like MyFitnessPal, I really don't see the need for blocks. I am currently on a zone type diet with a slightly higher protein intake as I'm currently trying to gain some more muscle and my training reflects it.  

Finally, we have the carb cycling which can be done in a variety of ways. If you're trying to gain weight, go high carb for 5 days, then low carb for 2. If you're training and want to stay lean, and still maintain performance, you may want to take a turtle approach and go low carb 2 days high carb 1 day.  These are just suggestions and you'd have to play with it to see how you feel during these attempts to finding what optimal nutrition looks like to you.  Here in lays the importance of nutrition coaching. There really isn't any one correct answer as we are all individuals. There are basic rules we follow and from there you're guided to experiment in order to achieve the results you want. There are many online nutrition offers today that give you a set of numbers and wish you luck. Although the numbers are important, there's nothing that beats working with someone that can guide you through the good and bad. 

We'll be starting our 30 day challenge and my hope for you is to chose one approach and stick to if for 30 days. You'll learn a lot about your body, how it responds to various types of food and macros. You'll also learn a lot of "tricks" when tracking macros in order to ensure that you can maintain adequate balance between your fats, carbs and proteins. I'll answer questions and help to the best of my ability. I'm a believer in trying every type of approach to eating and choosing something that works for me. I will not criticize any diet, not even a donut diet lol. Yes you heard me but that's for a different blog. See you at the gym. 


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