- A beginners guide. 

What is a Macronutrient?

Macronutrients are nutrients that are energy-providing chemical substances used for energy, growth, and bodily functions. Depending on the nutrient, these substances are needed in small amounts or larger amounts. Those that are needed in large amounts are called macronutrients.


There are three macronutrients required by humans: carbohydrates (sugar), lipids (fats), and proteins. Each of these macronutrients provides energy in the form of calories. For example:

  • In carbohydrates, there are 4 calories per gram
  • In proteins, there are 4 calories per gram
  • In fats, there are 9 calories per gram


This means that if you look at a food label and it lists 10 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of protein, and 0 grams of fat, that food would contain 40 calories… Your macronutrients are usually determined by your body type, (height, weight, age, etc.) and what your goal is. If your goal Is to gain weight, the percentages of each need to increase, and if your goal is to lose weight the percentages of each need to decrease.


Protein –

  • Building, maintaining and repairing body tissue.

  • All enzymes and hormones, which perform vital functions, are proteins.

  • Are used to aid in the immune process.

  • Can be used as an energy source for your body.


Carbs –

  • Glucose is essential for the body, as it is the preferred source of energy in our brain, heart and central nervous system.

  • Most Carbs (fruits and veggies) contain fiber which is essential for your body. 

  • When eaten in excess, our bodies will store carbs as fat.


Fats –

  • Main functions is protection. This includes insulation to keep body temperature and cushioning to protect body organs.

  • promotes growth and development, as well as maintaining cell membranes.

  • A vital role in the digestion of vitamins.

  • Can be used as an energy source for your body.


What is a calorie?

A calorie is a unit of energy. In nutrition and everyday language, calories refer to energy consumption through eating and drinking, and energy usage through physical activity. For example, an apple may have 80 calories, while a 1-mile walk might use up about 100 calories. Calories are essential for human health; the key is taking on the right amount. Everyone requires different amounts of energy per day depending on age, size and activity levels.

If you consume just the right number of calories your body needs each day, every day, you will be at maintenance of your body’s current physical condition. If your calorie consumption is too low or too high, you will eventually experience weight loss or weight gain.

3,500 Calories = 1 lb.

To put a calorie into a fitness perspective… If you are at a calorie deficit of -500 cals per day, you will lose 1 pound per week. If you are at a calorie surplus of +500 cals per day, you will gain 1 pound per week.


Why track macros?

Changing your body composition is tricky business. Everyone’s body is unique and it takes a great deal of knowledge and a fair bit of experimentation to find out what’s going to get you to your goals. Along the way, many people find themselves hitting this brick wall: do I count macros or calories? Explained above was the difference between a macronutrient and a calorie. 

All three macros are made up of calories. But your body puts those different types of calories to use in different ways. And the fact is, your body needs precise amounts of each type of macronutrient in order to fuel your workouts, repair muscle damage, grow stronger, and shed fat.

While you could get all your calories for the day from carbs, I don’t recommend it. Rather, you need a healthy balance of carbs, protein, and fat to make sure your body is fully equipped to transform the way you want it to.

Instead of focusing on how many calories you’re eating in total, it’s best to look at the content of what you’re eating and ensure your body is getting the tools it needs to build a better you. If your goal is to have a poppin’ six pack and sculpted shoulders, then counting macros is the only way to prevent muscle loss and guarantee that the weight you’re shedding is unwanted fat.

Bottom Line: Counting calories can help you lose weight. But counting macros can help you lose weight, build muscle, have more energy, and get lean.

- Ashley Lynn

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