What are macros? Macros stands for macronutrients which are all of the nutrients that provide calories from food. You have proteins, fats, and carbs.
Protein contains 4kcal/gram so if something has 20g of protein, it contains 80 calories.
Fats contain 9kcal/gram so if you have something with 5g of fat, it contains 45 calories.
Carbs contain 4kcal/gram so in the same way as protein, if it has 20g of carb, it contains 80 calories.
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Net carbs is just simply the amount of carbs that are in a particular food minus the amount of carb that has no impact on blood glucose levels. Keeping blood glucose levels staple can impact fat loss HOWEVER, YOU STILL ABSORB THE EXACT SAME AMOUNT OF CALORIES. It just simply has a lower glycemic index if the net carb is low so I pay no attention to net carbs. I count the complete carb in the food. Click here to read about net carbs.
Why do different distribution of macros matter?
Carbs are what we utilize for energy and are your main source of fuel. Carbs are converted into energy. Carbohydrates are essential for the functioning of many organs including your heart and brain.
Fats helps protect your organs and is the most concentrated form of energy. There are three types of fats (saturated, unsaturated and trans fat). No trans fat does not equal weight loss. It just simply has been shown that unsaturated fat decreases the risk for heart disease.
Proteins are essential for growth and development. Proteins help build lean muscle mass, and are the energy source when you do not intake carbohydrates. Muscle mass for the purposes of this blog equals metabolism. If you don't intake carbohydrates, you must use protein for energy breaking down your source of muscle mass preservation and essentially slowing down your metabolism.
How do I count macros if I'm just starting?
Myfitnesspal app and website are my favorite. There are other apps such as Macros+ that I've heard are great too! The easiest thing to do before you even commit to changing lifestyle is just to become familiar with foods. Click here to learn about myfitnesspal.
What foods are protein sources? What foods are carb sources? Fats? How can I arrange these foods into a puzzle piece that fits certain numbers that my body can metabolize for the day?
A key note here is that all protein sources have fats and carbs. All carb sources have fats and proteins. It all matters. No food has 0 calories although some are negligent. This is not to make you obsessive, but just to make you knowledgeable.
How do I know what my macros should be for the day?
1. Trial and error
--No one is going to be able to tell you on Day 1 what will make you lean out and how fast. Everyone is different, and sometimes it takes time to figure out what works which leads me to point ..
2. Get a human to help you
--All of the online calculators are using population averages and norms. They do not know your history of dieting and metabolism damage. They do not know your personal goals whether you want to lean down, bulk up, or maintain.
3. High protein and lower carb
--Again, many online calculators including myfitnesspal will do ridiculous percentages that make no sense for fat loss. Even though I believe it's ESSENTIAL to have carbs, I also think lowER carb is here to stay. It simply works. This DOES NOT mean eliminating them.
4. 40% protein/ 35% carb/ 25% fat
--I'm not giving away crazy secrets here. This is what seems to work really well for a lot of people. So if you have 1500 calories then that would mean:
1500* 0.40 (protein) = 600calories/4cal/g =150g protein
1500* 0.35 (carbohydrate)=525calories/ 4kcal/g= 131.25g carb
1500* 0.25 (fats)=375calories/ 9kcal/g = 42g fat
5. Learning your total daily expenditure or caloric amount can be tricky but again, trial and error
So what are those letters IIFYM?
This stands for "If it fits your macros"
This essentially means that no matter the source whether processed or "squeaky clean" foods, your body will metabolize them the same.
There are MANY opinions on this, many judgements on this, and all I want this to be is what I believe to be true.
Your body produces a different insulin response based upon the different forms of carbohydrates that you provide. This would be your high glycemic index foods (most of the time more processed foods) versus your lower glycemic index foods (typical sweet potato, brown rice, oatmeal). Stable insulin response is good for many reasons including fat loss, however if you maintain a balance of both high and low, this is still a stable insulin response that your body becomes used to.
Your body adapts to eating processed foods as carbohydrate sources. I am not endorsing that we eat crap all day. I hardly ever eat processed crap. My day is 90% whole nutritious foods with 10% junk because I love it just like everyone else.
However, if we are strictly speaking in terms of WEIGHT AND FAT LOSS not overall health from the vitamins and minerals of whole foods, you can essentially eat bad foods in the same macronutrient distribution and maintain the same progress. I am living proof of this.
I'm going to leave the entire science of IIFYM for another blog post because I could go into GRAVE detail on net carbs, insulin responses, trans fats vs unsaturated but I'm just trying to give you the nitty gritty "what is going to get me a rocking summer bod" post without starving myself.
I want to inspire you to become knowledgeable. Knowledge is power. I hope this helps you to figure out the elusive " What are macros?" question that you've always asked yourself!