Metabolic

Nutritionist explains what macros actually mean: carbohydrates, protein, fat

You’ve probably heard the term macronutrients before, and perhaps have some understanding of how they relate to our nutrition and diet.

But do you really understand what they are? And how to work out your own recommended daily intake depending on your personal health and fitness goals?

“Macros – or macronutrients – are essential nutrients required in large amounts by the body for major processes, including energy metabolism,” F45 Nutritionist Kim Bowman tells 9Honey.

Here, we ask Kim to help break down the important info around macros and explain why they are so important for the body.

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Macronutrients are essential nutrients required in large amounts by the body. (Getty)

There are three key macronutrients – carbohydrates, protein, and fat – which are measured in the form of calories (or kcal). Carbohydrates and protein provide 4kcal per gram, while fat provides 9kcal per gram.

“Each macronutrient plays a specific function in the body for optimal body function and health,” Bowman explains.

Carbs, proteins, and fats

Carbohydrates provide the body with glucose, the body’s primary energy source.

“They also help to synthesize specific amino acids and optimize our digestive system,” she says.

Meanwhile, Bowman says protein supports enzyme function and hormone systems in addition to optimizing lean muscle development through building and repairing tissues.

“Quality fats are necessary for energy storage, fat-soluble vitamin transportation, hormone regulation, and organ protection,” she adds.

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Healthy protein bowl with brown rice, salmon, broccoliThere are three key macronutrients – carbohydrates, protein, and fat. (iStock)

All macronutrients play a key role in every physiological process in the body from blood sugar balance and appetite regulation to energy metabolism and immune system function.

“Different combinations, daily ratios, of daily protein, fat, and carbs intake can be individualized to target specific body composition goals like weight loss, strength,” Bowman says.

“However, everyone’s daily macronutrient requirements vary largely and depend on a number of factors like gender, age, basal metabolic rate and activity level.”

Why is understanding macronutrients important?

Bowman explains that the macronutrient distribution of protein, carbs, and fats, along with the quality of these foods, has a large impact on how our body utilizes the calories.

“The breakdown of food can affect our energy levels, mood, metabolic rate, and hormonal response depending on their nutrient density,” she says.

“Therefore, knowing how to differentiate high quality from poor quality macronutrients will help you stay on track with a healthy eating routine.”

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F45 Nutritionist, Kim BowmanF45 Nutritionist Kim Bowman recommends tracking macros as well as calories. (supplied)

How to track your macros

To target macros to a specific goal, it’s important to first determine Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), along with total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).

“BMR refers to the total calories the body requires to function at rest – without exercise or exertion) – while TDEE refers to the body’s total calorie needs when weekly activity and exercise is accounted for,” Bowman explains.

There are a host of online calculators available, as well as F45 challenge app, to help you get a rough idea of ​​your numbers. But remember they aren’t a hard and fast rule either, and will change according to your progress.

It’s also important to not just look at the numbers, Bowman says, but also consider the food quality.

“It’s very important to consider food quality and meal timing, as these factors can also have a large impact on the longevity of a specific health or fitness goal,” she says.

Man eating as he works from homeThe quality of your food is just as important as the calories and macros. (Space_Cat – stock.adobe.com)

This is why tracking macros can be helpful.

“One of the biggest differences between calorie counting and tracking your macros is that calorie counting focuses primarily on overall ‘quantity’ while macro tracking focuses on the quality and the quantity of your daily eating pattern,” Bowman says.

“If your recommended daily calorie intake is about 1,700 calories, but these calories consist of mainly refined sugar and processed foods, then you aren’t actually gaining any real nutritional benefit.

“The key to achieving a specific fitness goal through macro tracking is to not only determine your goal, but to also understand what types of protein, carbs, and fats to include as part of a quality, well-balanced eating routine.”

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