What Are Macros and Why Do They Matter for Weight Loss?)
Dr. Philip Rodger
Owner and Clinic Director
Are you struggling to lose weight? Maybe all you really need is a little tuition in your nutrition.
The problem with weight loss is that so few really understand the fundamentals behind it. They hear the advice, “just go on a diet and do more exercise”. And while there is some credence to this, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you may really struggle to succeed.
Exercise is important, but nutrition is paramount in achieving your weight loss goals. If you’ve always wondered, “What are macros?” the good news is you’re about to find out. And more specifically, why they’re crucial when it comes to losing weight effectively.
What Are Macros?
Macros are short for macronutrients. They are one of the two main types of nutrients our bodies need to function optimally. The other is micronutrients which consist of things like vitamins and minerals. We need smaller amounts of micros, but we need larger amounts of macros.
Macros take the form of protein, fats, and carbohydrates. A healthy balance of these is essential to good health. Too much or too little of them can be a major factor in whether you lose or gain weight. So now let’s look at each in more detail to get a better understanding of the importance of macros.
Proteins are the building blocks to life, assisting the growth and repair of tissues in the body. If you lift weights in the gym, muscle tissue is broken down and in order for it to repair and grow bigger, additional protein is needed to synthesize that new tissue.
But its function goes beyond this, attributing to many other bodily functions, and can even serve as an energy source if needed. It is commonly found in meat, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, and some plants. Each gram of protein you consume contains 4 kilocalories and the recommended daily allowance (RDA) should make up 10-15% of your calorie intake.
Carbs make up the majority of our energy sources as it gets broken down into glucose and transported to our cells to function. It can also be stored in the body as glycogen in case it’s needed when energy reserves are low.
They also come in two main forms – simple (sugars), such as biscuits, cake, and sweets; and complex (starches), such as pasta, bread, potatoes, and rice. Simple carbs create short energy spikes and complex work over a longer duration. Every gram is worth 4 kilocalories and 50-60% of total calorie intake (RDA).
People used to believe it was fat that caused their weight gain and so everyone started to opt for fat-free foods in the attempt to lose weight. But fats do so much more than make you fat. They are vital to a range of bodily functions from being an energy source to providing insulation and protection.
They come in two main forms – saturated, such as in meat and dairy foods, and unsaturated, such as in fish, nuts, and seeds. Every gram of fat equals 9 kilocalories. That’s more than twice that of protein and carbs, which is why you need to keep a close eye on it when meeting your RDA of 20-30%.
Calculating My Macros
When it comes to losing and gaining weight, it is simply a matter of mathematics. Eat more calories than you burn and you gain weight. Eat less and you lose weight. It really is that simple! The problems tend to arise through an improper calculation of macros if it’s done at all.
It can be a little off-putting to do this, but it’s far more effective than adopting the latest fad diet. You just need to work out your daily caloric needs in accordance with your goals, and then plan your meals to meet it.
To work out your daily calorie needs, you can find an excellent calculator here. You can also use a calorie tracking app such as My Fitness Pal, to record all the food you consume and it’ll work out and track all of your macros for you.
If that’s still all too much then you might benefit from enrolling in a weight loss program such as ChiroThin. This takes a lot of the work out of everything, leaving you to enjoy life a little more.
Making Macros Work for You
Now you know what macros are and how to balance them effectively. So in the interest of losing weight, let’s look at some additional ways to really get the most out of them.
Reducing your carb intake, especially sugars, is an effective way to lower your weight, so long as you make up the calories elsewhere. Then when your body needs the energy, it’ll pull it from stored fat reserves rather than use the carbs you eat.
An effective method is carb cycling, where you consume more calories when you’re most active, and less on your sedentary days. This way you have the energy for exercising and not storing it on your days off.
Being so calorie-dense, you want to make sure you’re not consuming too much fat that can hide in foods. Things like cooking oil and dressing should be used minimally to keep it in check.
Fats are a great source of energy, so if you’re reducing your carb intake, try to get more healthy fats in from things like oily fish, avocado, nuts, and seeds – all good stuff for a healthy body.
Protein can really help with weight loss for many reasons. For starters, it boosts your metabolic rate which means more calories burnt. It also keeps you fuller for longer so you won’t reach for those high-calorie snacks when the hunger pangs hit.
If that wasn’t enough, protein is like food for muscles and helps maintain them. The more muscle mass, the higher your metabolic rate. And finally, the body must work harder to break down protein than the other macros, actually burning extra calories in the process. Amazing huh?
Understanding the Importance of Macros
Hopefully, this guide will answer your question of what are macros, what makes them so important for your body, and how to use this information to effectively lose weight. It might appear a little daunting at first, but after a week or two, you should get the hang of it.
As you can see, nailing your nutrition isn’t just about losing weight. It’s vital to understanding what your body needs to function at its very best. Couple that with regular exercise and you’ll be well on your way to meeting all of your health and fitness goals with ease.
Are you ready to get started on the path to a healthier you? Click here to find a ChiroThin doctor in your area.