It goes without saying that your shape (how your body looks like) and your progress mostly depend on what you eat and how you eat, rather than on how hard your train in the gym.
Right nutrition is one of the important factors in terms of improving your physical performance, speeding up your recovery and staying injury free.
Focusing on macros, rather than calories, is also a great educational tool for people who don’t know anything about what exactly they consume on a daily basis. It’s important to understand that calorie is just a measurement unit of energy, like centimeter, is a measurement unit for length. So, counting calories just gives you a number with no understanding of what exactly your body needs right now.
Depending on your goal (losing weight, maintaining form, gaining muscle mass), age, height, weight and activity level the number of macronutrients you should consume varies. Just a simple example: one pack of Lay’s potato chips has almost the same number of calories as 4.5 oz of salmon. But they both are very different in macronutrients. Lay’s and salmon both contain a large amount of fats, but they are not the same. Salmon belongs to a fatty fish and has a lot of healthy fats required by our body, whereas potato chips contain harmful transfats in them, which can lead to body inflammation and other diseases. Lay’s loads with carbohydrates, while the salmon is packed with protein etc.
Don’t get me wrong calories do matter. If your goal is to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you’re eating or drinking, and if your goal is to gain muscles, of course, you need to consume more calories than you’re burning. That’s something that everybody knows. But again, instead of focusing on how many calories you’re eating in total, it’s much better to look at the content of what you’re eating and ensure your body is getting the right fuel for building better a version of you.
To sum it up, if you want to have shredded six-packs, sculpted shoulders, improve your physical performance and prevent muscle loss while burning fat, then counting macros is the only way.
WHAT ARE MACROS?
Macros? Count? I bet, lots of people got super confused after hearing all those things for the first time. Before I also thought that you need to be a professional dietitian to count and know it. But the good news is, it’s not rocket science! Here I will explain to you all the things you need to know, in order to improve your health, physical performance and finally open your eyes to what you eat on a daily basis!
What is the meaning of the word “macros”? “Macros” is short for “macronutrients”. They shouldn’t be mistaken for “micronutrients”, which are vitamins, minerals and electrolytes required in much smaller amounts. Macronutrients are big-picture nutrients. They provide human bodies with energy and we need them in big amounts simply to survive. Macros form of calories and make up the three major components of food:
1. Proteins – help you to grow, repair injuries and tissues, speed up your recovery after exercises, build lean muscles and curb hunger.
2. Carbohydrates – body’s first and most preferred source of energy. When you eat carbs, your body converts them into glucose (just a fancy name for blood sugar) and either use this sugar immediately or stores it as glycogen for later use – mostly, during exercise.
3. Fats – are your second source of energy after carbs, which also help you to absorb certain vitamins.
HOW TO COUNT YOUR MACROS?
Alright, now we already know that proteins, fats and carbs are exactly those “magical” macros we need to have a track on. But how to count them? And how do we exactly know what of which should we eat? Should we really follow a super strict diet, or we can moderately eat almost everything we want to?
Okay, here’s something everybody should keep firmly in mind:
- 1g of carbohydrates = 4 calories
- 1g of fats = 9 calories
- 1g proteins = 4 calories
*Useful note: even though alcohol doesn’t relate to macronutrients, it still has calories.
1g of alcohol = 7 calories.
Knowing that we can finally start tracking our macros and counting our calories. But here’s another question you might ask: should we eat only salads, brown rice and chicken breasts in order to lose weight or stay in shape? My answer is NO! This is the biggest misconception of almost all simple diet plans.
Apparently, these kinds of super strict diets DO WORK and you can lose weight and somehow maintain your muscles. But will you be happy living like this? What will you do next as soon as you finish? Will you go back to what you used to eat before and start slowly losing your results again? It’s important to understand that these strict diets are TASKS TO COMPLETE, and you will be craving to finish this madness as fast as possible, missing to be enjoying the process. The truth is, you can eat almost everything (much better to choose high-quality products), and still be in a good shape, as long as you fit your macros.
WHAT IS AN IDEAL MACROS RATIO?
As you should have already realized, macros-based diet plans are focused on the percentage of carbs, proteins and fats in a person’s daily diet rather than just on calories alone. How many grams of each of the macros you should eat every day, mostly depend on your age, goal and activity level. But the average person should approximately consume:
- 1.5–2g of proteins per 1kg of your bodyweight
- 0.8–1.5g of fats per 1 kg
- 2g of carbohydrates per 1 kg of your bodyweight
Keep in mind these numbers, we can do one of the most interesting and hard things at the same time – food prepping. In order to log the food, you eat, and be accurate with macros you consume daily, you need to scale your food.
When you follow the diet, food scales becomes the thing you are not able to get to your goal without. Before cooking you need to precisely know, how many grams of each you need to use and then do simple math based on your goals and information at the top!
Don’t forget that your abs are mostly trained in the kitchen, not during doing crunches!