Hey Angels and Alphas,
Macros have become a sort of bucket term for the nutrients that make up the bulk of what we eat: protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Our bodies require specific amounts of each to properly function. Macronutrients are augmented by micronutrients, a.k.a minerals and vitamins, so they can meet all our nutritional needs.
But what is the individual role of each of these macros in our diet, and where do we find healthy sources that we can use to develop a framework for overall healthy eating? Let’s answer both these questions right now.
Where do you find healthy sources of macros?
Whether you’re using macros to improve your food choices or you’re just trying to eat a balanced diet, it’s good to know which foods contain more of which specific macros:
High-carb, low-protein: mostly fruits and vegetables.
High-carb, low-fat: options include pasta, rice, cereal, bread, legumes, fruits, vegetables.
High-protein, low-carb: sources include eggs, meat, fish.
High-fat, low-carb: healthy options include nuts, seeds, olive oil, cheese.
High-protein, low-fat: nonfat Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, chicken or turkey breast, lean ground beef, and whey protein powder.
High-fat, low-protein: healthy sources can be avocado, olive oil, coconut milk.
NOT ALL MACROS ARE CREATED EQUAL
Yes, 100 grams of salmon and 100 grams of chicken wings may essentially have the same macronutrient profile (as both are around 60% protein and 40% fat.)
But they’re hardly equivalent. Jelly beans and sweet potatoes may both be about 100% carbohydrates, but once again, there’s no way you can compare the two when it comes to their real nutritional value.
Could you lose weight eating nothing but hot wings and jelly beans, as long as you’re still burning more calories than you consume? Probably. But most people who start doing IIFYM quickly realize they would prefer to spend their macros on fruits, veggies, nuts, healthy fats, and lean proteins, instead of wasting them to quick snacks.
While we know a calorie isn’t just a calorie and we all realize the quality of the food you eat matters a bunch, IIFYM may actually help people who are jaded by choosing “healthy” food all the time. After all, no nutritional solution is a one-size-fits-all. If you’re a healthy individual, it’s still helpful to explore different options and find the one that works for you.
If you’re new to using calorie and macros calculators, here’s how you can determine the best macro breakdown for yourself:
#1 SET YOUR CALORIES
The first step is to establish a target calorie intake based on your current weight, age, height, activity levels, and goals. That’s the first thing you’d usually do when you go to any calorie calculator.
#2 SET YOUR MACROS
Next, you will want to determine how you’re going to be dividing portions among the three major macronutrients. Most calculators automatically set your macros for 50% carbs, 30% fat, and 20% protein. But you can tweak this distribution as you like – the app will translate percentages into grams for each macronutrient.
#3 START TRACKING YOUR DIET
You can enter as many meals and snacks a day into your food diary, and calculate your total grams of carbohydrates, fat, and protein. It’s key to plan your meals ahead of the day, or you may find yourself at dinnertime with a ton of protein left that you need to consume. This combination can lead to some strange midnight meals!
#4 RINSE AND REPEAT
With time, when you combine proper planning with proper execution, you’ll start developing a macro trend that you can easily keep up with. You can always refine the exact percentages based on your specific goal at the current time, but once you develop this habit, you’ll be able to consume a healthy amount of each macronutrient (and from healthy sources) for the rest of your life.