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What Are Macros?
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What Are Macros?

From calorie counting and intermittent fasting to the keto diet, there are many different diet and nutrition terms which you need to get your head around. One of the main terms you’ll hear dietitians, PT, and nutritionists talk about are macronutrients or ‘macros’ as they’re commonly known.

However, what really are macros?

What are Macronutrients?

Simply put, Macronutrients (macros) are the largest nutrient groups which we need to consume as part of any diet. The three main macros are:

Carbohydrates: These are the body’s most significant source of energy and are often the food group which contributes a large proportion of someone's calorie intake. The reason Carbs help to provide the body with energy is that, once consumed, they get broken down into glucose which is used for energy immediately, or gets stored as glycogen for future use.

Carbohydrates come in a vast array of forms, but the most common are sugars, starches, and fibres. The different types of carbs have different benefits. Starchy carbs, such as potatoes, pasta and bread, provide slow-release energy, while carbohydrates high in sugar have a quicker energy release.

Fats: These also provide the body with energy, but fat is important to keep critical functions maintained. This includes body functions such as hormone production, building of cell membranes and absorption of other nutrients which are fat-soluble such as vitamins and other beneficial nutrients such as carotenoids. As well as using fat for energy, our bodies store excess of this macro for future use, and also to protect vital organs and bones.

Consuming too much of certain fats can be unhealthy, but natural fats found in foods like avocado, nuts, seeds, meat and fish are important to any diet.

Protein: Protein is the third and final macronutrient which we’ll touch upon in this blog. Alongside fats and carbohydrates, these macronutrients help enhance muscle growth, repair, and stimulate muscle protein synthesis (the muscle-building process). Protein can be found in most foods, but higher levels can be found in meat, eggs and lentils.

However, for those who are looking to build muscle and avoid protein degradation or catabolism[1] (muscle-mass loss), it’s important to look at ways to add even more protein to your diet. Products created specifically to bolster protein intake, such as protein powders and high-protein snacks, are the perfect way to increase protein levels in a diet.

Focusing on Macronutrients?

Macronutrients are typically measured in grams and calories, and your intake of each can flex depending on whether or not you’re doing exercise, and the type of exercise you’re doing.

It’s important to remember that counting calories and counting macronutrients are different. Calories focus on the amount of energy being consumed, while macros are the level of macronutrients that make up food – all macronutrients contribute to your calorie count. Carbohydrates and protein provide 4kcal per gram and fat provides 9kcal per gram.

There are lots of helpful calculators available online to help you understand how to count macros, including Calculator.net.

There are lots of foods which are naturally high in protein, such as chicken, eggs and red meat. However, there are protein-rich products such as protein powders and snack bars – such as SCI-MX's Protein Blondie – that will help you increase your protein intake effortlessly. An ideal protein bar should have a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Look for bars that provide a mix of all three macronutrients, as this will help you feel full and satisfied.

Ultimately, optimising protein intake involves understanding the importance of reaching daily protein goals and the perfect timing of protein consumption.

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[1] Callis, J., 1995. Regulation of protein degradation. The plant cell7(7), p.845.

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