Understanding macros & nutrition
Part 1

What does it mean when people talk macro? are carbs bad for you? why should we eat proteins? All your questions answered in this article on the basics of nutrition.

healthy food macros protein fats carbs

Having a basic understanding of nutrition can go a long way to improving your health and wellbeing. Indeed, being empowered with the right knowledge in a sea of misinformation, gimmick and fake news will give the power to make the right choice. In brief, getting to grasp with some of the most fundamentals aspects of what you put into your body will help you live a longer, better and happier life.

When it comes to fitness goals, everything is governed by nutrition. You want to grow muscle? Nutrition. You want to lose weight? Nutrition. Do you want to look good on the beach? Nutrition.  Training is simply the stimulus, food is what fuels changes in your body. So, arming yourself with the right knowledge will set you up for success when it comes to achieving your fitness goal. 

What is a calorie?

This is so important, this is 101, the first thing you need to understand to be successful. Understanding what calories are and what role they play in the body  is  fundamental : A calorie is a unit of energy, think of it as the unit of measure to run a human body. In fqct, that breath you took 0.3kcals, that blink you just did 0.5kcals. The energy your brain is using to read this 0.2kcals.  Everything you eat as a kcal value, that apple 100kcal, that burger 500kcal.

Then onto a  few other definitions to know :

Daily Energy Expenditure : How many calories you use a day.  Walking, thinking, exercising, running your organs etc…everything you do, the more you do  the  more calories the use.

Calories Surplus : Going over your daily energy expenditure will make you gain fat

Calories Deficit : Going under your daily energy expenditure will make you lose fat 

Calories Maintenance  : The number of calories you need to maintain your weight

Calories matter, it matters more, how much you eat rather than what you eat. Don’t get me wrong, eat unprocessed whole nutritionally dense foods when ever possible.  But understand, there are no magic foods, no foods make you put on weight or lose weight more than others. In factEverything from muscle gain and fat loss is governed by the amount of calories you consume.

For the same reason, I can lose fat eating junk every day, if I’m in calorie deficit. Will I feel terrible, will it be optimal, will I be hungry because the junk food doesn’t really fill me up? yes, but I can still lose weight. So please understand this, nothing supersedes calories, NOTHHHIIINGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG ok.  If you think “eating clean” cutting carbs, or keto dieting will make you lose weight, no it’s wrong ;  it’s being in a calorie deficit that actually makes you lose weight.

pyramid calorie deficit sufficient protein and quality of food

What is a macro?

Maybe you’ve heard this term, maybe you haven’t, let me explain. All foods can be broken down into three major categories : Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fats. While some foods are a mixture, there are three types, each playing a different role in the body, and understanding the role they play in the body is important.

protein photo with meat cheese eggs nuts

Protein  1g=4kcal , like Meat, eggs, cheese

Your body uses protein as its building blocks for new tissues, muscles, organs, and well, everything. Protein can also be used as an energy source in the case of an emergency when other sources are running low, but you really don’t want this. Protein is used for building new muscles, as the indigested proteins are converted to amino acids which are the building block of new tissues. Therefore, protein improves recovery and gains in muscle sizes and strength of muscles (1) Simply put, if you don’t get enough protein, you’re not giving a reason for your muscles to grow. Some bad news, when dieting to lose weight, you want to mostly lose fat, but unfortunately you will also lose muscle. But adequate amounts of protein in a diet have been shown to help you maintain lean muscle mass when dieting (2). Another great quality of protein is it takes a lot of kcal to digest, 20-30% in fact, so diets higher in protein can promote weight loss by pushing you into a higher kcal deficit. However be warned, more is not better, everyone has an optimal amount : between 2.2 to 2.8g of kg of body weight.

carbohydrates with vegetables fruits nuts

Carbohydrates. 1g=4kcal , like rice, bread, veg, fruit

Carbohydrates are your bodies main fuel source ; your body loves carbohydrates. When you eat carbohydrates, they are converted in glycogen and stored in the muscle and liver to be used for fuel. Also, the brain exclusively runs on carbs. This is why I never recommend just cutting out carbs completely. In fact, it takes 100-120 gram of carbs a day to run your brain optimally.  They help fuel training and even make muscles look fuller. Carbs are often demolished, but they shouldn’t be. Furthermore, carbs help you produce serotonin (the happy chemical in your brain, which in turn helps you release melatonin the chemical which helps you sleep). Yes if you are in calorie surplus carbs can increase insulin which signals to your body to store fat, so be warmed. But if you are in calories deficit carbs will not make you put weight on more than anything else.

healthy fat with oils avocado nuts

Fats 1g=9kcal, like butter, avocado, oils, almonds

Fats are mostly used as energy in the body,  but they have a vital role in hormone production as well (hormones regulate your body’s system and processes). Hormones are made out of cholesterol and we’ll all know cholesterol is made out of fat. Again, fat is demolished but, a diet where fat makes up less than <20% of total intake has been shown to have a negative effect on anabolic hormones (hormones that help build and keep muscle, keep you focused and motivated and all-around help you feel great). So please don’t cut out fat because you think FAT MAKES YOU FAT. Yes, fat is kcal dense and it’s easier to over-eat your daily kcals whilst eating fat, but fat doesn’t make you fat…too many kcals does.

In summary :

  • Kcals matter
  • All macros are important and there is no need to cut out any
  • In part 2, I will discuss how many kcals you should eat for your goals and what ratio of protein carbs and fats you should eat. Stay tuned!
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