Mac-ro-nu-tri-ent – A substance required in relatively large amounts by living organisms, in particular.
A type of food (e.g., protein, carbohydrate, fat) required in large amounts in the human diet.
Macronutrients contain calories and when we add them up, they equal our total daily intake.
Protein & Carbs have 4 calories per gram
Fat has 9 calories per gram
Alcohol has 7 calories per gram
Alcohol isn't actually a macronutrient. There isn't anything nutritious about it, but it does carry a caloric value outside of the three macros that do have caloric values so it's always accounted for.
Any food or drink you have will be made up of Protein, Carbs, and Fat.
If it's alcoholic, there will be calories associated with the alcohol, unfortunately.
This is important to call out, because most people don't realize that the alcohol's calories are counting towards their daily or weekly intake.
A diet of salads and a bottle of wine can still cause you to gain weight.
Calories affect your total weight loss or weight gain, but macros are going to affect how you look and feel.
Each macro plays a role in your internal health and your body composition.
Protein powers a majority of the bodily functions we perform each day, including rebuilding tissues or parts of your body like bone, skin, and hair.
Here are four benefits of protein:
Studies have shown that we require between 0.8-1.2 g/lb of bodyweight.
(180lb man = 180g of protein = 1.0g/lb)
Depending on your goals, you’ll want to aim for those numbers.
Carbs often get a bad rep because they are associated with so many foods that are easy to eat in excess and when you eat in a surplus, you will gain weight.
Cookies, pasta, bread, and pizza all have carbs. That's true. But so do other foods that are part of a healthy diet like fruits, whole grains, and vegetables.
First thing to realize is that foods like cookies and pizza aren't bad foods. They don't club baby seals and rob banks. A lot of times people associate morality and carbs which isn't healthy because food is just fuel. Not a villain in a Disney movie.
Pizza in moderation is healthier than binging fruits, almonds, and avocados. Can you lose weight cutting out carbs? Yes. But you're losing weight because you're cutting out excess calories from fries and Thai food.
There are many benefits of carbs for health and training.
- Energy. We need carbs to have energy to do things like breathe, digest, move, or think. We also want carbs as they are the primary fuel source when you are exercising. As mentioned earlier, carbs are the primary and best fuel source for high energy, explosive activities like working out. This is a big one to focus on because the more energy you have for workouts, the more effort you can exert. More effort leads to moving more weight which leads to expending more energy (burning calories) and building muscle. So while you can just eat less and lose weight. Eating more healthy foods and training hard allows you to eat more food and see more benefits from training. AKA WIN WIN.
- Recover. Carbs help replenish muscle glycogen for future performance. They can also help repair your muscles if protein is low.
- Hormone Health. A lack of carbs can risk affecting your hormones that are involved with energy balance and fat stores. A low-carb diet can lead to a low leptin profile which is responsible for signaling to the body energy stores. If energy is is perceived as low, the body will adjust thinking it needs less calories than it actually does. When this happens, your Resting Metabolic Rate might drop causing you to gain weight when you've been sticking with the same diet and routine for years.
- Source of fiber. You want fiber in your diet and a lot of fruit and vegetables that are carb heavy are also loaded with fiber. Fiber helps you stay full longer and it will also improve digestion.
Remember when "Fats" were the enemy?
Now we are more educated and aware that not all fats are bad for you. You just want to make sure you focus on eating “good” fats and avoiding harmful “bad” fats.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can lower disease risk
Sources: Vegetable Oils (olive, canola, sunflower, soy, and corn) Nuts, Seeds, and Fish.
Trans Fats can increase disease risk.
Sources: Processed Foods made from partially hydrogenated oil.
Saturated Fats while not as harmful as trans fats, by comparison with unsaturated fats negatively impact health and are best consumed in moderation.
Sources: Red Meat, Butter, Cheese, and most Ice Cream.
Benefits of Fats:
- Balances hormonal health. When you consume enough good fat you make it easier for your hormones to pass into your cells.
- Brain function. Your brain is 60% Fat. In order for your nervous system to fire properly, you need to ensure that the commands from your brain to your body are transmitting correctly. This is crucial when training new movement patterns in the gym.
- Energy. It's best used for slow activities like walking, yoga, or even daily activities at work or at home. Fats aren't great when you need quick, explosive energy, which carbs are best utilized for.
- Heart health. Choosing the right types of food fats as part of a holistic diet and lifestyle approach to health can effectively reduce the risk of CVD and other chronic diseases, both in patients and in the general population. Food-based guidelines on dietary fats recommend limiting the consumption of animal fats high in saturated fatty acids (SAFA), using vegetable oils high in monounsaturated (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), and focussing more on eating fatty fish.
All three macros are important.
Unless you have a rare, medically-diagnosed disease, don’t let people scare you into thinking one is better or worse than the other.
Can you consist of a diet that limits one of the macros? Sure.
You can also walk from New York to LA.
But it isn’t optimal.
https://www.t-nation.com/diet-fat-loss/harness-the-power-of-tef https://www.t-nation.com/diet-fat-loss/tip-mass-gain-101 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5030225/ https://www.t-nation.com/diet-fat-loss/best-and-worst-fats-for-bodybuilders-athletes McBroom, Cody. “The Nutrition Hierarchy: Your Guide To Setting Up A Successful Nutrition Plan.” Boom Boom Performance & Nutrition, 2017