The Beginner’s Guide To Macros

Whether you’re just getting into fitness or nutrition, or you’ve been keeping track of your eating habits for a while now, you might have heard of the term ”macros” or how important ”counting macros” are for certain trainers. You might also not be too sure what macros are or what counting them entails. If this sounds like you, you’ve stumbled onto the right blog post.

As a dietitian, counting macros can be problematic for certain patients and clients, and may lead to obsessions or eating disorders. So if you’re looking for someone to help you count each nutrient you eat per gram, that’s not what my intention is here. There is no harm, however, in being more informed about the nutrients that we put in our body, how they help us in our everyday lives, and where to find them.

Without further ado, here is your beginner’s guide to ”macros”:

”Macros” is a shortened word for the term ”macronutrient”. The term ”macro” literally means ”big”. Macronutrients are therefore bigger in size than ”micronutrients” (which are smaller and more micro in size), such as vitamins in minerals. The 3 macronutrients are protein, carbohydrates and fats.

  1. Protein comes from a variety of animal and plant-based foods (to find out the top 14 plant-based protein sources, click here). They are composed of smaller components, called amino acids. Think of amino acids as lego blocks. A chain of amino acids will be considered a protein once the chain is long enough to fold over itself in a 3D shape and have its own function. Your body is able to make amino acids from other molecules, but not all of them. Essential amino acids are the building blocks that your body cannot produce for itself, and that you need to get from an outside source: food.A complete protein is a protein that is composed of all essential amino acids. Complete proteins are mainly found in animal products, like meat. It is however to get all the amino acids you need as a vegetarian or a vegan, by having meat substitutes in your diet, and by eating a variety of plant-based protein sources (and not always the same ones!)

    How much protein should I eat in a day? About 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight (if you don’t do much exercise). This value can increase to 1.0 to 1.2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight depending on the exercise, and can go up to 1.5 to 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight for higher-level athletes.

    Fun fact: gluten is a protein!

    For a full assessment of your macronutrient needs, consult a registered dietitian!

     

  2. Carbohydrates are the ”carbs” that people dread so much! The reality of it all is that you shouldn’t fear carbs, as they are your body’s preferred source of energy, and glucose is the only source of energy it can use when it is not fasting. Carbohydrates are in so many foods that it is basically impossible to avoid them completely.Fun fact: you need a minimum of 130 grams of carbohydrates daily for proper brain function. You might end up feeling groggy or tired in the long run if you cut them out for too long.

    Sugars are also carbs. There is a variety of types of carbs that can be divided into 2 main families: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates easier to digest and are a short term source of energy, whereas complex carbohydrates are more of a longer-term energy source.

    How many carbohydrates should I eat in a day? As the minimum recommendation for proper brain function is 130 grams (you may also have more), the best way to reach your daily requirements of carbohydrates is my eating a balanced diet. Depending on the portions you eat, fill the quarter of your place with sources of carbohydrates, such as whole-grain bread, rice, pasta, quinoa, bulgur, oats, and more!  Here’s a great example in Canada’s Food Guide:
    Screen Shot 2019-11-07 at 11.28.07 AM.pngFor a full assessment of your macronutrient needs, consult a registered dietitian!

     

  3. Fats. Here’s another macronutrient that people dread but shouldn’t. On the other side of the spectrum, regular people with no health issues who eat high-fat diets aren’t exactly on the right track to a healthy or sustainable diet either! The best is to find a middle ground, a balanced diet for optimal health in the long run. A large variety of fats exist, and they have a variety of functions in the human body.For example, Omega-3 fatty acids have been proven as beneficial for health, but only when they are in foods, according to science. Taking extra omega-3 supplements will not bring any extra benefits.

    It is also recommended we choose unsaturated fats over saturated fats:
    – unsaturated fats are sources that are liquid at room temperature, like oils (olive, canola, avocado, sunflower, etc). Fats that are found in some plant-based foods are also unsaturated, like avocados, nuts, and seeds.
    – saturated fats are those who are solid at room temperature, like butter, margarine or lard. The fat you find in animal products or industrial food products (like baked goods, desserts, ready-to-eat foods), are also saturated most of the time.

    How much fat should I eat in a day? That depends. It should be less than the protein and carbohydrates you eat in a day, but there is no need to cut it out completely either. The proper recommendation is choosing unsaturated fats over saturated fats, for better health. No need to calculate how much you eat, especially at a beginner stage.

    For a full assessment of your macronutrient needs, consult a registered dietitian!

 

 

Make sure to comment any questions you may have, discussions are always a good idea 😍

-M<3

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