?v=1606281515, //cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/1564/6971/t/1/assets/global.css?70682

nutrition

-

Macronutrients: What They Are & How To Track Them

SWEAT sweat.com

Macronutrients: What They Are & How To Track Them
Macronutrients

Macronutrients are a key component in your overall diet. Whether you’re already a conscious-eater, or you are learning how to eat healthy, understanding macronutrients can allow you to understand how food functions in the body, and how to choose foods that will make you feel great. This article will show you what macronutrients are, why you need them, and how you can use them to fuel your body in the right ways.

Find out: 

What are macronutrients?

Macronutrients are the nutrients your body needs on a daily basis to function properly. They can be broken down into three main types: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Whilst they are all vital in providing your body with energy, they each play a different role in doing so. 

What do each of the macronutrients do?

The three macronutrients, whilst each play an indispensable part of your diet, contribute to the overall functioning of your body in different ways:

Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates provide your body with energy, namely helping with brain and muscle function.

Protein: Proteins are made up of amino acids, and play a vital role in repairing and building bodily tissues, including skin, muscles and bones. 

Fats: Fats add flavour and texture to the food you eat, whilst also supporting your body in absorbing vitamins, regulating metabolism, and storing energy.

Macronutrients vs micronutrients

While macronutrients are the nutrients that your body requires in large amounts, micronutrients differ in that are only needed in smaller volumes. Whilst they are both essential for proper bodily function and physical health, micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals that exist within macros. This means that if you are eating the recommended amounts of each macronutrient, you will likely be fulfilling your necessary intake of micronutrients in the process. 

How much of each macronutrient do I need?

There are general guidelines to follow so that you can ensure you are eating enough of each macronutrient. The recommended daily amounts of each macronutrient are: 

  • 45-65% of your daily calorie intake should be complex carbs
  • 10-35% should be made up of protein
  • 20-35% should be made up of fats.
Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates

Whilst carbs often get a bad rap when it comes to eating healthily, it is the macronutrient that is recommended you eat the most of. Understanding what carbohydrates are,  how they work in the body, and which foods you should eat to get the right kinds of carbohydrates will help you make more informed food choices, and support your overall health.

What are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are the main energy source of the body. Carbohydrates provide your body with glucose (also known as blood sugar). Maintaining glucose levels is very important for optimum bodily function and ensuring you have the energy you need on a daily basis. 

Carbohydrates fall into two different categories: complex carbs and simple carbs. This is an important distinction to make, as they both contribute to bodily function in different ways. You should always aim to focus your carbohydrate intake on complex carbs: this is because they keep you fuller for longer, and are generally higher in fiber than simple carbs. And, they won’t spike your blood sugar in the way simple carbs can.

How many carbohydrates do you need?

It’s important to know how much of this macronutrient you actually need on a daily basis to help you feel your best. The general rule of thumb is that carbs should make up about 45-65% of your calorie intake for the day. It’s important that most of these come from complex carbohydrates to help you stay fuller for longer and support your energy levels. If you’re seeking to increase your muscle mass or lose body fat, you can also try carb cycling which requires tracking your macronutrient intake.

Which foods are high in complex carbs?

Complex carbohydrates are present in many foods that you may not be aware of. Here are some of the foods you can eat to get your daily intake of carbohydrates:

  • Fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes or bananas
  • Whole grains (eg. brown rice, wholewheat bread, rolled oats)
  • Legumes
Protein

Protein

Protein is another crucial macronutrient that you should be including in your diet. If you’re familiar with macronutrients, you may have heard that protein is what you should be eating lots of to grow muscle mass. While this is true, protein plays many other important roles in the body to help you thrive. 

What is protein?

Protein is made up of amino acids. There are 20 different types of amino acids total, but 9 of these your body cannot produce itself and must be received from food. Protein helps to build and repair tissues in the body, and is vital in helping produce important hormones and enzymes that your body uses for immune system health.

How much protein do you need?

How much protein you need depends on several factors: your age, gender, and activity level. For women over the age of 18, the recommended daily intake is 0.3 oz per 2.2 pounds (or 0.75g of protein per kg) of body weight. However, if you are very active, you may need 1.2 to 2 times more. The more strength training you’re doing, the more protein you may like to include in your diet. The rule of thumb to go by is to have 10-35% of your daily calorie intake made up of protein. 

What foods are high in protein?

Knowing which foods are high in protein will help you when choosing what to put on your plate. These are some of the most protein-dense foods you can eat:

  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Legumes
  • Soy products (Eg. tofu)
  • Dairy products (Eg. cheese, milk and yoghurt)
  • Seafood
Fats

Fats

Fats are the final macronutrient that you should be ensuring you get an adequate amount of on a daily basis. Often eating fat is associated with weight gain, however this macronutrient plays an integral role in many other bodily systems that allow us to thrive.

What are fats?

Fats can be categorised into a variety of types: saturated, unsaturated, and trans fats which are a sub-type of unsaturated that actually acts like a saturated fat. Eating too much saturated fat can lead to inflammation, heightened cholesterol and blood clotting, while eating unsaturated fats helps the body absorb minerals and vitamins, and supports muscle movement. 

It’s important to prioritise unsaturated fats over saturated and trans fats, as too much of the latter can produce too much cholesterol, and eventually increase the risk of heart disease. 

How much fat do you need?

20-35% of your daily calorie intake should be made up of fats. Ideally, most of these will come from unsaturated fats, with saturated fats taking up no more than 10%. This is due to the increased risk of heart disease and high blood pressure associated with eating large amounts of saturated fats.

What foods are high in fats?

Different kinds of fats are present in different foods. Unsaturated fats can be found in:

  • Vegetable oils (like flaxseed oil, and canola oil)
  • Olives and olive oil
  • Avocado (and avocado oil)
  • Fatty fish like salmon
  • Nuts and seeds (including nut butters)

Meanwhile, saturated fats can be found in:

  • Meat (particularly red meat)
  • Coconut and coconut-derived products like coconut oil and milk
  • Dairy products
  • Pastries and other sweet snack foods
  • Deep-fried foods
How To Track Macros

How to track macronutrients in your food

If you are following a strength training program, you may be interested in tracking your macronutrient intake. You can measure your macro intake by measuring the number of calories you’re having per day, and the number of macros you’re getting from each calorie. To do this, you’ll first need to work out how much of each macro to be eating on a daily basis. The general guidelines for these are:

  • 45-65% of your daily calorie intake should be complex carbs
  • 10-35% should be made up of protein
  • 20-35% should be made up of fats.

And, you’ll also need to know the calories per gram of each macronutrient. For carbs and protein, there are 4 calories per gram. For fats, there are 9 calories per gram. Once you know this, you can measure the grams. 

Then, you can calculate the number of macros you’re getting for each calorie by dividing the number of calories you’re eating per day by the number of calories per gram that each macro contains. For example, if you’re eating 2,000 calories per day and you want 50% to be made up of carbs, then you should divide 1,000 (50% of 1,000) by 4 (the number of calories per gram in carbs). This would mean you’d be eating 250g of carbs per day.

 Should you track macros?

Tracking macros is not essential for developing healthy eating habits or leading a healthy lifestyle. It can be beneficial for people who are on a vegan diet, have specific fitness goals or have other dietary requirements to ensure they’re getting the nutrients they need. There are both pros and cons to tracking your macros.

The pros of tracking macros

  • Tracking macros can help with weight management 
  • Tracking macros can help you get fitter and stronger, as ensuring you’re getting the right amounts of protein and complex carbohydrates can help with muscle growth and endurance
  • You may be able to perform better in the gym and recover faster 

The cons of tracking macros

  • Tracking macros can be time consuming
  • Those with a history of eating disorders may be at-risk as it requires a level of tracking that can lead to obsessive behaviours
  • Tracking macros can have an impact on social outings by not allowing you to enjoy food without tracking macro content

Counting macros vs counting calories

Counting calories and counting macronutrients each have their place in improving health and fitness levels, losing weight and/or building muscle mass. The key difference between calories and macronutrients is that while calories are a measurement of energy going into the body, macronutrients are the key nutrients that your body needs to survive. 

Macronutrients tell a more detailed story about where these calories are coming from and what they are doing in the body once you’ve consumed them. For example, both a handful of almonds and a handful of lollies might have the same number of calories. If you were just counting calories, then both have the same impact or results for your body. 

But when measuring the macronutrient makeup of each of these snacks, you’ll find that almonds are providing you with healthy unsaturated fats, protein, and complex carbs, while lollies are providing you with large amounts of simple carbs. This is where the difference between calories and macronutrients lies – in the nutrient makeup of the food dictating the food choices you make.

Food is fuel

The most important thing to remember is that food is fuel. Tracking macros is a tool some people use to understand if they’re getting enough of certain nutrients to reach their health and fitness goals– it shouldn’t be used to restrict yourself from foods that your body needs (and the foods you want!). Understanding macros is just one important part of developing healthy habits, allowing you to live a long, healthy life and supporting your fitness levels, too. 

* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.

<# for (var i = 0; i < comments.length; i++) { var s = comments[i]; #>

<#= s.user.username #><#= moment(s.created_at * 1000).fromNow() #>

<#= s.html_body #> <# if (s.images) { #>

<# } #>
Reply Like Unlike
<# if (s.replied_comments_count) { #> <# for (var j = 0; j < s.replied_comments.length; j++) { var c = s.replied_comments[j]; var lastComment = s.replied_comments[s.replied_comments.length - 1]; #>

<#= c.user.username #><#= moment(c.created_at * 1000).fromNow() #>

<#= c.html_body #> <# if (c.images) { #>

<# } #>
Reply Like Unlike
<# } #> <# if (s.replied_comments_count > 3) { #> Show more replies <# } #> <# } #>
<# } #>
<# for (var i = 0; i < comments.length; i++) { var s = comments[i]; #>

<#= s.user.username #><#= moment(s.created_at * 1000).fromNow() #>

<#= s.html_body #> <# if (s.images) { #>

<# } #>
Reply Like Unlike
<# } #>

Leave a comment...
Sort by: