MACROS AND WEIGHT LOSS
What are Macros?
One of the first words that you will come across when looking to change up your diet to lose a few kilos is "macros". Macros is a term short for macronutrients - nutrients that are required in large amounts by the body for energy and metabolic processes. The macronutrients are carbohydrates, protein and fats. Water is also a macronutrient.
Proteins are made of amino acids which are needed by the body for growth, cellular repair, energy and digestion. They form enzymes, chemical messengers, and help build muscle and structural components in the body.
Protein contains only 4 calories per gram.
Protein needs are often underestimated. Most people require at least 0.6 - 1g per kilo of bodyweight.
Examples of foods high in protein are eggs, red meats, fish, poultry, seeds, nuts and dairy.
These are your body's preferred energy source. They are also involved in the regulation of your blood glucose, are a storage form of energy, used as a structural components and more.
Carbohydrates contain 4 calories/gram. Carbohydrates include:
Starches or complex carbohydrates – legumes, rice, wheat, grains, cereals
Sugars – glucose, fructose, sucrose, lactose and maltose
Dietary fibre – wholegrain foods, vegetables, legumes, fruit, nuts and seeds
Fat is a calorie dense macronutrient, and a small amount of fat is essential for a healthy diet. Fats are important for storing energy, maintaining body temperature, cushioning vital organs, regulating hormones, transmitting nerve impulses, and transporting fat-soluble vitamins.
There are four main types of fat in our diets. These are monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats ("healthy" fats), and saturated fats and trans fats ("unhealthy" fats).
Examples of healthy fats are olive oil, oily fish such as salmon, peanut butter, nuts and avocado. Unhealthy fats are those that increase your bad cholesterol (HDL), increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Examples of unhealthy fats are processed and fatty meats such as sausages and bacon, fried foods, hard cheeses, biscuits, cakes and pastries to name a few.
Fat is the most calorie dense nutrient, containing approximately 9 calories per gram.
How Much of Each Macronutrient do I Need?
Based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines, the percentage of energy in your diet should come from the following macronutrients:
Fats: 20-35% (With less than 10% coming from saturated fats)
However, there is no "one size fits all" approach to macro breakdowns, as they are entirely dependent on your unique goals and requirements.
The following are examples of goal-specific macronutrient breakdowns written by nutritionist Sarah Wilkins, for bodybuilding.com:
For fat loss, aim for lower carbs:
For maintenance mode, aim for moderate carbs:
For muscle gain, aim for higher carbs:
Ultimately, as with most diets, weight loss from a "macro" diet will be from being in a calorie deficit. Following the Australian Dietary Guidelines macros breakdown will help to ensure that you are eating a nutritionally balanced diet from across all the food groups.