What are macros? The full guide to understanding them, and applying them to your fitness goals.

What are macros? The full guide to understanding them, and applying them to your fitness goals.

Macros are a shortened term for the word "macronutrients" which are the building blocks of energy in the body. Your macros are comprised of three main groups which are protein, carbs, alcohol, and fat and will be the main focus of this article.

There are other groups of macronutrients including fiber, water, and antioxidants that do not provide the body with energy, so they are generally not taken into consideration when counting your macros for the purpose of losing weight. There are also things called micronutrients which are comprised of vitamins and other not so common forms of energy in the body. Since micronutrients take up such a small percentage of your diet, they are also generally not taken into consideration.

Protein, Carbs and Fat: The Building Blocks Of Your Macros

Carbs: This is your body's first stop for energy. Your body and brain use carbs to function. Every gram of carbs adds 4 calories to your total calorie count.

Carbs can be found in things like pasta, bread, grains and basically anything with sugar.

Fat: Fat is used as a backup for energy and helps protect organs and bones. There are two types of fat, saturated and unsaturated. Unsaturated fats are good for you while saturated fats are unhealthy and can be found in things like donuts and fast food. Every gram of fat adds 9 calories to your total calorie count.

Healthy fat can be found in eggs, nuts, avocados and some forms of healthy meat.

Protein: Protein is the building block for your muscles and is what your body uses to repair them. In fitness and especially bodybuilding, getting enough protein is very important for Every gram of protein adds 4 calories to your total calorie count.

Protein can be found in most all meats, eggs, fish, and protein powders. 

Alcohol: While alcohol does not have a lot of nutritional value, it does add calories to your overall total. One gram of alcohol is 7 calories. This is why it is important to generally avoid alcohol as it adds calories but doesn't actually provide any nutritional benefit. It is also why cutting alcohol out of your diet generally yields quick, immediate results when losing weight.

By knowing the amount of grams for each energy type we can find the total number of calories like so:

(grams fo carbs * 4) + (grams of fat * 9) + (grams of protein * 4) + (grams of alcohol * 7) = Total Calories

Using Macros To Reach Your Goals

Knowing what macros do and how they affect the amount of calories in your food is one thing. However, how do we use this knowledge to reach our goals? While yes, when trying to lose weight you can simply just eat less calories, and to bulk you can eat more calories; but the quality of your cut or bulk will suffer significantly.

In essence, your goals may have been accomplished, but they could have been accomplished faster and with less effort had you taken your macros into consideration. There should never be a shorage of protein and fat in your diet. Carbs can fluctuate depending on your goals.

How Much Protein, Carbs and Fat Should I Eat

Deciding how much of each macronutrient to eat requires a particular amount of trial and error as each person is going to respond differently. For someone starting out, it is recommended you use the macronutrient calculator here.

That calculator will give you approximate calorie intake recommendations for different goals based on your weight, height and current workout intensity. 

For more information or questions, add a comment below!

The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not always reflect the views of Bodybuilding Nation.
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