What are Macros?

 

These are the major nutrients that your body requires in large amounts in the diet. They are broken down into carbohydrates, protein and fats, and each group provides different nutritional components and Calories to the body.

 

Calories are the way we measure units of energy - basically they describe how much energy our bodies will gain from consuming something. The thing with energy is that it can be neither created or destroyed. Meaning that if we consume it, and the body does not use it, it must be stored. Conversely, if we need energy but the body has none stored, we simply will not be able to perform the physical task to the extent we want or need to.

 

 

MACRO

NUTRIENT

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Protein

  • Source of amino acids used in building muscle


  • Found in foods such as lean meats, eggs, fish, dairy


  • 4 calories per gram

Fat

  • Used in cellular transport, hormone regulation, cell support, immune health and brain function


  • Found in meat, fatty fish, nuts, oils


  • 9 calories per gram

Carbohydrate

  • Provides the body and brain with energy to use and store


  • Found in foods such as fruit, vegetables and grains


  • 4 calories per gram

 

Your body needs different amounts of total Calories as well as each of the macronutrients, depending on physical activity levels, age, gender, health status, etc., so there isn’t a one size fits all approach.

 

The traditional rules of Energy Balance:

 

 

 Results

Calories in equal to Calories out

 Weight Management   

Calories in greater than Calories out  

 Weight Gain

Calories in less than Calories out

 Weight Loss

 

 This is a simplistic view of what is in reality, a very complicated concept. However, the message it conveys is still valuable: fuel your body according to its needs as well as your goals.


How To Track Your Energy Balance

 

Using an App or Website:

 

There are simple apps and websites available that can generate a daily Calorie requirement once you have entered your height, weight and sometimes physical activity level. Generally with such calculators, the more information you put in, the more accurate the daily Calorie estimate will be. You can also use online food databases to help you calculate and track your energy intake. Comparing your expenditure against your intake will allow you to work out whether you are in positive, equal or negative energy balance. This is the basis of tracking your macros, and while it can be labour intensive, it provides an effective method of weight management and helps you learn more about nutrition and exercise.

 

Remember that these values are always an estimate. Foods are influenced by the environment in which they were grown/produced, ingredients used, cooking methods, freshness, serving size, etc., which affects their Caloric and nutrient content. In addition, each individual’s Calorie burning potential is influenced by their age, size, muscle mass, health status, etc. This means there is no way to be 100% accurate when calculating Calories in versus Calories out. By tracking your energy balance over time, it can be a valuable and effective way in helping you reach your goals. 

 

 

 

Intuitive Eating:

 

It is important to note, in light of the fact that energy balance is based around calculated estimates, you have a valuable tool in simply listening to your body. If you combine tracking methods with being in tune with your body’s needs, you will find you are better able to adjust your nutrition and energy balance accordingly. This does not mean succumbing to snack cravings, rather observing how your eating and exercise habits affect you physically and even emotionally.

 

A key component of counting your macros is to see the bigger picture - your body is a sum of the nutrition and exercise it is exposed to day after day. If you are vigilant every day, ensuring your nutrition and energy expenditure match up with your goals, you will slowly but surely achieve the physique you want.


‘Success is the sum of small efforts - repeated day in and day out’- Robert Collier


  


WHERE DO I START?

 

Decide what your goals areFat loss, physique maintenance or muscle gain? We start by working out our Daily Caloric Requirements, then choose a Daily Calorie Intake that relates to our goals. Here is a general guide to how different Calorie intakes can influence the end result: 

 

 

 Fat Loss

 10 - 20% Calorie deficit below Daily Caloric Requirements

 Maintenance  

 Consume Daily Caloric Requirements

 Muscle Gain

 10 - 20% Calorie surplus above Daily Caloric Requirements

 

The fundamental element here is to consume the appropriate amount of Calories to create a sustainable path towards your goal. Depending on your starting point (this relates to current physical activity levels, eating habits, muscle mass and fat mass), this 10-20% deficit or surplus will result in around a 0.5kg weight change per week. 

 

  

Step 1

Calculate your daily Calorie needs by inputting your age, gender, weight, height and physical activity levels into an online calorie calculator. This will provide you will the Caloric value required to maintain your current weight. Depending on what your goal, you then need to work out if you will be aiming to maintain this Caloric intake, or increase/ decrease it slightly to reach your goals. When aiming for weight loss or weight gain, around 10-20% above or below maintenance Calories will provide a Caloric surplus/deficit that will produce results at a sustainable rate.


Example

If your Calories for maintenance are 1800 Calories per day, and you are aiming for a 20% Caloric deficit with a goal of weight loss, you would complete the following calculation - 1800 / 100 = 18 (this is 1% of your total daily maintenance Calories)180 x 80 = 1440 (this is 80% of your total maintenance Calories, and hence a 20% Caloric deficit)


Step 2

Based on your total daily Calories, calculate your macronutrient ratios. If your goal is to build muscle while losing body fat then use the following macronutrient split: 

 

Protein = 50%

Carbohydrates = 30% 

 Fat = 20% 

 

Your actual macronutrient intake does not need to exactly match these ratios and amounts, and they can be altered to suit individual needs. Using these ratios as a guide will help you structure your meal plans. There are endless ways to adjust macros to suit different goals, body types, physical activity levels, etc, which I will cover later on in this series.


Example

Continuing on from the above example, with the goal of fat loss, the macronutrient calculations would be as follows:

Protein → 1440 / 100 = 14.4 x 50% = 720 calories from protein

Carbs → 1440 / 100 = 14.4 x 30% = 432 calories from carbs

Fat → 1440 / 100 = 14.4 x 20% = 288 calories from fat 

 

  

Step 3 

Convert your macro Caloric values into grams (continuing with the above example):

- Protein = 4 Calories per gram

720 / 4 = 180 grams protein per day

- Carbs = 4 Calories per gram432 / 4 = 108 grams carbs per day

- Fat = 9 Calories per gram288 / 9 = 32 grams fat per day

 

These example calculations and values provide a daily macro breakdown to aim for, that is based on a goal of fat loss and therefore a 20% Caloric deficit. From here, it’s time to create a meal plan that satisfies these macro requirements as closely as possible. For optimum results when counting your macros, you should be aiming for a wide variety of whole foods in the form of fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources, whole grain carbohydrates and healthy fats. The good thing about counting your macros is that there are no restrictions in terms of what foods you select, as long as your macros for the day are satisfied. This doesn’t mean that unhealthy foods should make up the bulk of your diet, however they can be factored in every now and then if you feel the need. 

 

 

Dedicate some time and focus to this initial calculation and planning process, as setting up your meal plans carefully and thoughtfully will help with compliance and hence results in the long run. If you struggle to incorporate the right meals into your diet based off these concepts, don’t worry! I personalise my training and nutritional programs for ALL my clients.The best thing about this is that you can choose which foods you don’t want to eat, how often you want to eat each day, food allergies, etc.

 

View my meal plans here!

 

It takes some time to adjust - not just to track your macros, but also getting your Calorie levels and nutrient ratios really dialled in! You will also find the process time consuming initially, however with practice this will improve and benefit you significantly in the long term! Remember, this is a lifestyle, not a diet! So listen to your body, trust the process and put in the effort each and every day!