If you’ve heard the words macros, flexible dieting, and IIFYM, you know this is all the rage when it comes to “dieting” and being successful with reaching your goals, and I agree with this philosophy. But what’s it all about? What are all of these acronyms and abbreviated words mean and how can they help me live a healthier lifestyle? Maybe you’re completely unfamiliar with all of this or you want to learn more about it because you have been hearing and seeing all the success stories with macros based meal plans.
First, lets start off with a little background on Macros so you can better understand the science behind this philosophy. Macros, or Macronutrients, are made up of fats, carbohydrates and proteins. These are the most important parts of your diet and a proper balance of macros will help you gain muscle and lose fat in all the right places.
Macro based eating relies on you tracking your macros and the thought of logging and tracking your food may seem daunting and pointless, but rest assured that this is the key to your fitness success. The real work is done outside of the gym through proper nutrition.
But wait, can we simply track calories versus fats, carbs and proteins? Yes, but tracking calories alone without looking at each macro component will not ensure your body is receiving the proper nutrition to achieve your fitness goal. By having a strategically designed macro plan you can ensure your body is getting the proper calories from all three components in order to achieve fitness success.
Why Does Our Body Need Macros?
Fats, carbohydrates and proteins all play an important role in our body. We need a proper balance of all three in order to build muscle, lose fat and essentially function properly from day-to-day.
Who Needs Fats Anyway?
Fats are essential in balancing our hormones, protecting our organs and keeping the brain functioning. When hormones are balanced it makes it easier to loose weight and build muscle. It is very important that healthy fats (unsaturated) are included in an everyday diet. Fats come from meats, fish, nuts, oils, avocados etc. We want the healthy fats, not the fried trans fats you can find at McDonalds….. those fats clog your liver and arteries. Good fats keep a healthy heart and happy mind.
What Does Protein Do?
Protein is vital for building and maintaining lean muscle mass. When we have muscle, we have a better metabolism. It is important to have substantial protein in the diet because when trying to loose weight we may put our bodies in a calorie deficit (calories out are greater than calories in), but we do not want to loose the vital muscle we just built. During a calorie deficit our bodies will use proteins or fats for energy when our glycogen stores (carbs) are depleted.
So just remember, Protein = muscle/metabolism. The more muscle we build the better our metabolism will be and the more calories we will burn.
Give Me Carbs!
We all love our carbs. Carbohydrates are the main energy source for our bodies. Think of carbs as your fuel, the body needs this to keep working. Carbohydrates are also very important for brain function. We can find carbs in grains, breads, processed foods, fruits, vegetable; essentially everything. Many people may ask about net carbs, when counting macros we don’t believe in this. You are still absorbing the same amount of calories. Net carbs just means the glycemic index is lower due to increased fiber in the product. A carb is still a carb.
Don’t Macros Have Calories?
All food has calories, but all food is made up of macros. This goes back to counting calories alone vs. macros. By counting the grams of protein, fat and carbohydrates we will essentially end up with a final calorie count. Do we care what that is? No, because we are counting the grams of protein, fat and carbs you are eating. But for calorie purposes here is the breakdown:
- Protein contains 4 cal/gram so if something has 10g of protein, it contains 40 calories.
- Fats contain 9 cal/gram so if you have something with 10g of fat, it contains 90 calories.
- Carbs contain 4 cal/gram so similar to protein, if it has 20g of carb, it contains 80 calories.
How to Navigate a Macro Plan
So, enough about the science behind macros. Let’s get to the point of it all. If you’ve never tracked macros I recommend you download the app “My Fitness Pal” and track the next several days of the foods you are eating to get a baseline where your macros are. You might be surprised how quickly the calories or surplus of carbs/fats add up just by mindless snacking or not being prepared for mealtime. If you’re unsure what to do next or how to adjust your macros to achieve your fitness goals of weight loss or building lean muscle we can help put a strategic plan together for you and further teach you the process which you can then implement for years to come.
Macro-based flexible dieting is a successful approach because you can implement a variety of foods and exchange foods on your meal plan as long as all the numbers meet up at the end of the day. The fun part about macros is you don’t have to follow some boring “chicken and sweet potato” plan every day. You can change up your meals and keep things interesting. Boring diets lead to binge eating and are unsuccessful. We recommend spacing out your macros throughout the day so you don’t end up with a large amount of food to eat before bed. The best way to do this is to plan your meals the morning of or night before. This way you have a sketched out plan that will help keep you on track. “Winging-it” as a beginner can lead to over or under eating. (We don’t want that)
As with anything new, it’s all unfamiliar territory, but this successful approach to “dieting” isn’t going away anytime soon and it’s helping thousands of people reach their goals daily. Once you understand the macro plan this will become a way of life.
For further information or to have a plan designed for you contact firstname.lastname@example.org as we’re passionate about teaching others the successful and healthy approach to macro based flexible eating.
Owner of Pro Physiques (formerly Az Pro Physiques) the largest personal training gym in Arizona. She is an IFBB Fitness Pro traveling the world representing the United States at competitions internationally and here in the U.S. A personal trainer and contest prep coach to athletes around the country, Radio show host of ProBodyTalk, Fit Fluential ambassador, Sponsored athlete for Gamma Labs, Legend Fitness, Lifestyle Healthy Foods and a Mom of two incredibly amazing boys.