What On Earth Are Macros?

If you frequent nutrition or bodybuilding forums, you may have seen users talking about counting macros.  What on earth are macros?  They are actually quite simple.  Short for macronutrients, they are the molecules that our bodies use to create energy: fat, protein, and carbs.  Macros are the basis of all calories you consume.  That means, all calories come from macros.  To count them, you just add up how the grams of fat, protein and carbs you consumed. They are measured in grams - fat is 9 calories per gram, and carbohydrates and protein are 4.  All three aspects are vital for a healthy body.  Fat aids vitamin absorption, hormone regulation, and brain function.  Carbs are needed for energy.  Protein builds muscle and controls appetite.  Your optimal level of intake depends on factors like age, gender, weight, BMI and activity level.  To figure out how much of each group you should be eating, use a calculator like this.

Now the more complicated question, is counting macros better than counting calories?  Professionals have different opinions on this.  Some believe that using macros is more efficient for losing fat and gaining muscle, citing research supporting that diets with high protein can lead to weight loss.  Of course, if you count calories then you can lose weight.  But, some argue, is it about quality over quantity.  Getting 100 calories from an avocado is much better than getting them from cake.  You can get protein from vegetables or from meat.  Monitoring your macros will result in quality weight loss.  It is better than a diet, it is more of a lifestyle change.

To get started, first use the calculator to find your optimal intake.  Then start paying close attention to nutrition labels and serving sizes.  Log your intake in a journal.  If you want to get serious, consider investing in a food scale.