What is a macro nutrient, and more importantly how do I count them??
One of the most effective, and essential parts of any fat loss program is tracking your food intake. Most of us, at one time or another have done it. Today it is so easy to access an online tool or app that helps you not only find the foods you have eaten, but also automatically break down the food label information into easy to view categories such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats. These three categories are the “triple threat” of food journaling. There are a plethora of programs out there that focus solely on counting total calories…others that are only concerned with sugar consumption, fat grams, or protein. At S2 we believe that Macros are King, and this is how we make our nutritional program suggestions.
If we look at the essential elements of our food intake, we begin to understand that the “major” or “macro” elements of food are the proteins, the fats and the carbohydrates. These, in combination, essentially make up the total caloric profile of the foods we eat.
- 1g of Carbohydrate = 4kcal
- 1g Protein = 4kcal
- 1g Fat = 9kcal
- 1g Alcohol = 7kcal
Check out the food label below.
This Pure Protein Bar (one of my favorites!) has 19g Protein, 20g Carb and 5g fat. Using our assigned values above (19g x 4kcal) + (20g x 4kcal) + (5g x 9kcal) = (76) + (90) + (45) = 201kcal
There are also micro nutrients such as vitamins and minerals that contribute to the overall nutritional benefits of certain foods. By and large, if we calculate and track our “macros” these, in sum, will directly correlate to the total calories consumed. Many trackers like MyFitnessPal and Livestrong’s MyPlate will breakdown your food choices into macro nutrient categories making it very simple to assess if you are on track and whether you need to make adjustments to stay within your “budget”.
Why macros rather than calories? Well, think about it…not all calories are created equal. In other words, if you eat 2200 calories of predominately high carbohydrate foods like Hot Krispie Kremes, your body is going to respond very differently than if you eat 2200 calories of predominately proteins and fats. The key is to not only eat the appropriate AMOUNT of food for your unique metabolism and energy expenditure, but you also have to think about the composition of those foods. Creating a balance between the three macro nutrients, in a combination that is right for you, is the only way to achieve sustainable, and significant results. I will agree that if you are tracking at any level, then you are better off than 95% of the population. Tracking alone just ain’t gonna cut it long term. You have to know what and how you are tracking so that all the energy and time will pay off. Breaking down total calories into a more intricate and nutrient specific goal will provide you even more chance at ultimate fat loss success.