What on earth are macros?

Are you all about IIFYM... or more WOEAM?

You may have heard of counting your macros, if it fits your macros (IIFYM) and diets which restrict a macro... and if it's left you questioning 'what are macros?... and why are they so important?' then stick with me for your simple guide to macros.

To maintain a balanced diet, we need water and food from five nutrient groups. It's these groups that are divided into macronutrients (macros) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Macronutrients are the ones we need in larger amounts as they are used to to function and fuel our body.

You're already familiar with what these macros are even if you weren't familiar with the term:

  • carbohydrates
  • protein
  • fats

Each one of these is used by the body in a different way and each one is necessary for an optimally functioning body. Each macro provides the body with energy as well as having its own unique role in supporting your body's structure and function. Fats supply the most calories at approximately 9 per gram, with carbs and protein following behind at approx. 4 calories per gram each.

Although to eat a balanced diet, we need to take in all 3 macronutrients, we don't require them in equal quantities. For the majority of people, the Food Standards Agency recommends calorie intake across the 3 macros as:

  • carbohydrates - at least 50% of your day's calories
  • fats - no more than 35% of your day's calories
  • protein - at least 55g of protein per day amounting to 9-12% of your diet (although there are many recommendations now which suggest this should be higher particularly for those of us who do a lot of physical activity).

There are diets of course which recommend cutting down (or removing) particular macros from your daily food intake. You will lose weight doing this but only because your overall calorie intake will be lower - it really has nothing to do with removing a particular macro. Plus, losing weight at the expense of taking in nutrients which keep us in good health isn't a sustainable - or recommendable - way to live!

So, that's a whistle-stop tour of macros. If you want to know more about the function of each one, stay tuned to the blog over the next week as we take an individual look at the benefits of each one... first up, protein.

Spark Fitness is passionate about helping you become the healthiest, fittest and most confident you. Providing in-home and outdoors personal training in north Manchester and nutritional advice, find out how I can help you to spark your fitness journey without stepping foot in a gym here.