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  • Writer's pictureAbbey Booher

Macronutrients: The Basics

Nutrition is best presented like an onion - one layer at a time.


So for maximum retention and minimum tears, today we will be focusing on the first layer:

  1. What are macronutrients?

  2. What (in the context of exercise) does our body use them for?

  3. How did calories somehow got into this mix? 🤨


 

First, there are 3 main macronutrients:

  • Protein

  • Carbohydrates

  • Fats

These are the same proteins, carbohydrates, and fats that you see on nutrition labels.


Macronutrients, often called "macros" for short, are nutrients that are essential for your survival (obviously, this is important).


We need macronutrients in large quantities (think macro = large) to carry out necessary physiological functions.

Making sure we have the right quantity of each macronutrient is important for general health, but it is especially important for any specific exercise performance or body recomposition goals you may have (particularly protein).

Macros + Calories: How Are They Related?

What if told you, the diligent calorie counter, that you have likely been unknowingly counting macros this whole time when you log food? Yep. Go to your app right now and I bet you will find listed somewhere some macronutrient ratios in relation to your daily calories.


You see, each macro has an assigned caloric value that is always true. In other words, each one provides your body a specific amount of energy. Always.

Macro's assigned caloric values are: For every 1g of carbohydrate, your body receives 4 calories. For every 1g of protein, your body receives 4 calories. For every 1g of fat, your body receives 9 calories. Remember that a Calorie = one unit of food energy. Calories are what give your body the energy it needs to exercise and carry out basic the functions necessary to keep you alive (like breathing and digestion, for instance).

Fats will always provide 9 calories per gram, just as protein and carbohydrates will always provide 4 calories per gram no matter the food type:

If 1 serving of candy is 15g of fat and 1 serving of peanut butter is also 15g of fat, then they both provide your body 135 calories. (More on that in a later blog 😉) So you may be wondering, how many calories do I actually need then? Well, it depends.

It depends on:

  1. Age

  2. Biological Sex

  3. Height and weight

  4. Current non-purposeful activity level (i.e. any movement you do outside of the gym, like gardening or cleaning your house)

  5. Current purposeful activity (i.e. exercise you do inside the gym)

  6. Fitness goals

The relationship between macros and calories is important to consider for body recomposition goals because:

  • To lose weight you must be in a caloric deficit (expending more calories than you are consuming).

  • To gain weight you must be in a caloric surplus (ingesting more calories than you are expending)

  • To have body recomp occur, you must have the proper ratio of macronutrients.

Summary

  • There are 3 Macronutrients: Protein, Carbohydrates, Fats

  • Macronutrients are important because they are essential for our survival

  • We need macronutrients in large quantities

  • Macros have assigned calorie amounts that are always constant:

1g Fat = 9 calories

1g Carb = 4 calories

1g Protein = 4 calories

  • "Counting macros” is really just another usually more nutritionally well rounded way of counting calories! 🤯

  • Macros are truly individualized and will vary from person to person (my macros will not work for you because you are not me and vice versa)



For more information on macros download our free Lifestyle Guide at the link below!



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