Macro is a short term for macronutrient! The three macronutrients (fats, proteins and carbohydrates) all have their own specific roles and functions in the body and supply us with calories or energy. For this reason, the body requires these nutrients in relatively large amounts to grow, develop, repair and feel good!
Each macronutrient is almost always found in every item of food, whether that’s a healthy snack bar or a raw vegetable; the only difference is how the macronutrients are balanced. As an example, the nutritional composition of an avocado is generally made up of 75% (good) fats, 20% carbohydrates and 5% protein, therefore this is clearly a fat-based food. On the other hand a banana consists of 95% carbohydrates, with only small amounts of protein and fats. The trick is to understand how each macronutrient plays a different role in the body and tailor your diet accordingly! But how does one know that an avocado is made up of 75% fats, 20% carbs and 5% protein??? Keep reading along!
Carbohydrates are your body’s go-to source of fuel. Carbs are very beneficial in resistance weight training so do not be scared of them!!! They’re found in large quantities things like bread, whole grains, potatoes, as well as in fruits and vegetables. Sugar is also a form of carbohydrate. Some carbs give you slow-burning energy, while others only give you quick bursts that will soon leave you feeling flat. Generally, “natural” foods will provide the former kind of energy, while processed and high-sugar foods will provide the latter.
Protein is for growth and repair. Most people know protein is vital for packing on muscle, and that’s because protein more or less provides the building blocks of your body. Protein is found in large quantities in meat and animal products (like eggs and dairy), though if you’re vegetarian or vegan there’s also protein are also plant based proteins. When you eat protein it’s broken down into smaller compounds called amino acids. There are nine essential amino acids that your body can’t make them by itself — you have to get them from food. Protein from animal sources is called “complete” protein because it supplies all these essential amino acids, whereas vegans and vegetarians need to take care to eat from a variety of sources to gain complete proteins.
Fat is essential for general health and wellbeing. Its scary reputation is not deserved: you need to eat fat to keep your body functioning. Fat is found in large quantities in foods such as meat and dairy (sources of what’s called saturated fat — aka “bad” fat, because of its link to heart disease if you eat way too much of it). It’s also found in foods like olive oil, nuts, fish and avocados (sources of what’s called unsaturated fat — aka “good” fat).
There’s not really such thing as a food that’s all carbs or all protein or all fat — everything you eat contains a varying mix of the three.
So why is it important understand macronutrients? Because it informs what you’ll eat to hit your goals. If you have no energy to exercise, it might be because you’re not eating enough carbs. If you’re not gaining muscle, it might be because you’re not eating enough protein. If you’re not losing fat, it might be because you’re eating too much of any one of the macros.
Often you’ll hear people insist they’re on a low-fat or low-carb diet because eating fat or carbs makes you fat. That’s not strictly true — yes, eating too much fat or carbs can make you put on weight (as can eating too much protein), but avoiding them can also have a negative effect because you’ll miss out on vital nutrients. Paid Powher.fit community members learn in our nutritional section the macro nutrient breakdown we suggest for a healthy and balanced diet!
To help you better learn about foods you consume and “just what macros” they are made of, we have created a Macro Cheat Sheet for you. Feel free to save this image as a reference when grocery shopping, cooking or eating out.
How We Suggest Learning/Counting Your Macros:
We suggest using the My Fitness Pal App (which is FREE through the app store). Within this app you can search and add an unlimited amounts of foods (even including tons of restuarant menus) to better help you hit your maco nutrient goals! Click here for the Essential Guide to My Fitness Pal.