Recently, I was on the phone with a journalist, chatting about nutrition and macros. While I could go on for hours about both, she interjected with a question reminding me that nutrition not only is complex, but our vernacular is also confusing. The question? “What exactly are macros? Or micros? And why should we care?”
Simply put, macros are the shortened form of macronutrients. These essential components of the diet are needed in relatively large amounts and support our growth, development and health. Loosely defined, macronutrients could include water and, some may argue, alcohol. But in the world of “if it fits your macros” (#IIFYM), the only macros that are tweaked and tracked are the ones providing energy throughout the day: carbohydrates, protein and fat. Comparatively, micronutrients are essential but needed in small amounts, providing no energy. Vitamins and minerals fit into this category. What these definitions don’t tell you is that when you experiment with where your calories are coming from and land on a macronutrient mix that supports your goals, the real magic begins.
Your personal macro mix is important because it can determine whether you hit your health, wellness and weight goals. Sure, you can and will lose weight if you focus solely on calories and consume fewer calories than you burn. You also can end up losing muscle, though, and your overall health can suffer if you ignore the big picture of better nutrition. And even if weight loss is not your goal, when it comes to health and wellness, macros always matter. The right blend can help you fend off cravings, keep energy levels steady, and help you see improvements at the gym and at the doctor.
If you’re like the average American and consume about 50 percent of your calories from carbs and believe those carbs are the culprit responsible for your current weight, you might start reducing carbs and land on 40/30/30. This blend is rather flexible, allowing for some indulgences and familiar favorites but definitely a lower carb approach than typical. Feel great on this plan but want to reduce carbs, boost satiating protein and get to an even better place? You might consider a low-carb approach. The definition of “low carb” varies greatly, but you might start at 15 to 25 percent of calories from carbs, 40 to 50 percent of calories from protein and 30 to 35 percent of calories from fat. Cut those carbs further and you’re at keto, a blend of 5 to 10 percent of calories from carbs, 20 to 25 percent from protein and 70 to 80 percent of calories from fat.
Written by Pamela Nisevich Bede for Oxygen Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.