04 Oct Understanding Macros and Your Body Type
Have you ever heard a friend, family member, colleague mention that they are “counting their macros” and wonder what they’re talking about? Counting macros is a flexible dieting strategy where the calorie goal is divided by specific macronutrient ranges of carbs, protein, and fat. Here are the basics you need to know about macros:
Macros is short for macronutrients.
There are 3 macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, and together these nutrients give us the total calories we consume in a day and the proportion of each in our diet affects our satiety and health.
To understand counting macros you need to know that each macro gives us energy through calories:
Carbohydrates = 4 cal/gram
Protein = 4 cal/gram
Fat = 9 cal/gram.
Let’s take the example of a meal consisting of 25g Carbs, 30g Protein, and 10g Fat.
1. Determine how many calories are from carbs: 25 x 4 = 100 calories
2. Determine how many calories are from protein: 30 x 4 = 120 calories
3. Determine how many calories are from fat: 10 x 9 = 90 calories
4. Add the calories from carbs, protein, and fat: 100 + 120 + 90 = 310 calories for the entire meal
When a dietary intervention is based on “counting macros” the carbs, protein, and fat goals are laid out and the client has the flexibility to choose healthy foods that fit within those prescribed numbers. The benefit to the client is the freedom to choose foods that fit their lifestyle and any dietary restrictions. If you are the type of person who likes dessert at night (that’s my vice!), you can leave room 100 calories of dark chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth craving without going overboard and eating the entire chocolate bar. Tracking macros takes practice, but the awareness of what types and amount of food we consume pays higher dividends in nutrition education.
To determine our macro ranges you need (1) a calorie goal and (2) know your body type. There are a few ways to determine your calorie goal. Weigh yourself in the morning then for 7 days track everything you eat. Weigh yourself on the morning of day 8 again. If you lost weight you are in a calorie deficit, if you stayed the same weight those are your maintenance calories, if you gained weight you are in a calorie surplus. The second is to go to www.tdeecalculator.net and enter you statistics and the website will estimate your calorie maintenance.
There are 3 types of body types and depending on which category you fall in will determine the ideal amount of carbs you should consume:
1. Ectomorphs are the ‘naturally thin’ individuals. They typically have a smaller bone structure, thin limbs, and have a higher metabolic rate. These types have a better carb tolerance and do well on a diet with 40 – 60% coming from carbs. For example, a diet consisting of 55% carbs, 25% protein, and 20% fat.
2. Mesomorphs are the athletic body type. They have a medium sized bone and have a good amount of lean (muscle) mass. Mesomorphs can easily gain weight, but with their propensity to add muscle can easily lose body fat when they try. A diet with 30 – 40% from carbs will suit them well. However, if a mesomorph is not lean a low carb plan is the better option until the desired body fat levels are met. Their sample macros would look like 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat.
3. Endomorphs have a larger bone structure and have higher amounts of fat mass and generally have a harder time burning off excess calories. Endomorphs will do better on a high fat diet and should consume less than 100g of carbs per day (ideally < 50g per day) as they do not tolerate carbs well. Low carb and ketogenic diets are the better option. For example, 25% carbs, 35% protein, and 45% fat.
A few notes of protein and fat:
Do not skimp protein. Protein does NOT make you bulky and it does not magically build muscle. Eating in a calorie surplus regardless of the source, carbs / protein / fat, will increase body fat levels. The first 60 – 100g of consumed protein does NOT even go to your muscles! The first 30 – 50g go to the detoxification process, the next 30 – 50g goes to building up the immune system.
Fat will not make you fat. Healthy sources such as nuts, oils, and fatty fish provide us with necessary omega 6 and omega 3 nutrients which are necessary for cell membrane health, heart functioning, triglyceride levels…the list of health benefits goes on. Women should aim to consume 0.7g of fat per kilogram of body weight to maintain optimal hormone functioning.
*Information compiled from Clean Health Fitness Institute and Precision Nutrition articles and books.