Macros is the new buzzword, so much so that the question ‘What do you Bench?’ has now been taken over with ‘What are your Macros?’ but what the hell are macros anyway and do you need them?
In this article we’ll explain all you need to know about Macronutrients.
So what are Macros?
Macronutrients or macros for short are comprised of proteins, carbohydrates and fats and all are essential for good health, weight loss and maintenance. I say essential, carbohydrates aren’t actually essential but I think we’d all go slightly mad if they were not around.
So lets take a very brief look at each of the macronutrients and their importance mentioned above.
The body of a 70kg man contains about 11kg of protein with almost half of this belonging to our skeletal muscle. But portion isn’t all about muscle building, we need protein for our hair (speak for yourself), nails, skin and organs.
So making sure we have an adequate amount of protein each day is essential to health. Proteins can also be much harder to digest than our other macros (carbs and fats) as they are much more dense, meaning we burn more calories when we digest protein than any other macronutrient.
We can burn anything from 10-30% of our calories just by digestion alone. So if we had 100 calories of Rib Eye Steak (my personal favourite) we’d most likely burn up to 30 calories by eating it! Meaning we only have 70 calories left! BONUS…we burn calories and eat steak!
Often blamed as the cause for weight gain, carbohydrates will often be the first thing to be taken out of a persons diet if they are looking to lose weight (ideally body fat).
Let me first explain that there is nothing wrong with good natural healthy carbs. It’s the refined sugars in carbs that cause issues with our bodies and all of them tend to be tarnished with the same brush (very much like bad personal trainers).
These refined sugars are sometimes hidden, overlooked or misunderstood ingredients such as corn syrups, although we are often aware of them when we have biscuits, white sugar, cakes or sweets.
A very popular white bread contains 1.7g per slice and is classified as low on the nutritional table, yet some will eat anything from 2-4 slices per meal. Meaning your sugar content could be up from 3.4 – 6.8g.
The NHS (UK’s Health Service) state that more than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g is high and 5g of total sugars or less per 100g is low. What very often isn’t taken into account is how many slices, pieces or servings we have.
So why do we at RTB Performance advise that carbohydrates are dropped for the first 2-4 weeks?
Firstly, we want to create something called insulin sensitivity (you’ll learn more about this on our members only site but it’s not compulsory).
Secondly, motivation is high and we want it to stay that way. You may lose a fair amount of weight in the first 2-4 weeks (some have lost over 14lbs/1 stone in weight).
This is due to water weight loss as carbohydrates are made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen and because the carbs that are taken out are not always replaced with the same amount of calories, meaning you find yourself in a calorie deficit.
Once you have done your low carb for 2-4 weeks, you’ll be introduced back to carbs again but as Charles Poliquin says…’You have to earn your carbs.’
Here is an example of a typical low carb, medium protein and high fat diet (Keto Plan) that we take our clients through for 2-4 weeks depending on their insulin resistance.
More calorific gram for gram than protein and carbs, fats had it bad in the 70’s and 80’s, so if you grew up in that era you may have a harder time believing that fats are actually very good for us and needed. Saying that, if you’ve got a heartbeat and you’re reading this, you may also need convincing.
There are 3 types of fats saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated.
Saturated fats still get the bad name as the fat that causes cholesterol due to their rise in LDL (bad cholesterol). The one thing that not many know is that Saturated fat also causes a rise in good cholesterol HDL.
Just 1 tablespoon of Coconut Oil (11g of fat) comes in at 9.52g of Saturated Fats but what isn’t taken into account here is that coconut oil is a Medium Chain Fatty Acid. These are sent directly to your liver, where they are immediately converted into energy rather than being stored as fat.
They also help stimulate your body’s metabolism, which may lead to weight loss.
Unsaturated fats, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated are not as stable as our saturated fat because they have a different chemical structure. Unsaturated fats have a lower smoking point, which basically means they are more vulnerable to heat, light and oxygen. Making them a less suitable choice for cooking but not all unsaturated fats are oils. You’ll find these fats in nuts, avocados and fish.
So why are macronutrients so important and what is the difference between counting macros and counting calories?
Counting your macros is similar to counting calories and but instead you are focusing on the grams of each macronutrient rather than the calories of each macronutrient. So someone on a 2000Kcal plan who is watching his or her macro intake could look something like this.
160g Proteins = 640Kcals
120g carbs = 480 Kcals
97g Fat = 873Kcals
Total Calories intake = 1993Kcal
Take in to account that not all protein comes from protein sources…ie you get protein in a baked potato or in rice. The same goes for carbs in protein sources and fats in protein and carb sources.
Here’s an example:
220g Baked Potato – Carbs 49.7g – Protein 5.5g – Fats 0.4g
200g Chicken Breast grilled – Carbs 0g – Protein 59.6g – Fats 6.2g
100g Broccoli boiled – Carbs 2.8g – Protein 3.3g – Fats 0.5g
Total = Carbs 52.5g – Protein 68.4g – Fats 7.1g
That now leaves us with Carbs 67.5g – Protein 91.6g – Fats 89.9g
It may seem a little too much hard work but don’t worry, if you have signed up with us you get our app as a part of your package and it does all the hard work for you.