It was probably a year or so ago that, a long-time reader asked me to write a post about macronutrients. Sorry, it took so long!
At the time, I told her I would write a post on macronutrients. However, that time never came, until now.
The reason why it took time for me to write about macronutrients and calories, is because I did not understand it.
In the past, I took the advice of experts and gurus of ignoring calories, macros, and tracking while focusing on just eating whole foods.
Sidenote: Eating whole foods is excellent, and it works, but if you are overeating, you will gain weight.
I finally got clarity about calories and macronutrients from a guy named Jay. I stumbled across his website, bought both of his books, Superior Fat Loss, and Superior Muscle Growth, and I am doing well. Jay is a faceless guy on the internet that knows his stuff.
Today, you will learn about calories, macronutrients, and how to calculate the macros you need.
A Vegan Friend with Fat Gain
I had a friend who followed a vegan diet. She gained weight and could not understand why. At the time, I was not as knowledgeable as I am now to help her.
I remember her telling me the foods she ate. I could not understand why she was getting fat and had high triglycerides because her diet was pretty healthy.
Her food choices were healthy, but she always overate.
She believed that since bananas are healthy that she could eat 3-5 bananas at one sitting topped with her favorite nut butter.
Overeating was her problem and not her diet.
What is a Calorie?
A calorie is a unit of energy and produces heat. Food is the energy-fuel for the body.
We get our calories from the macronutrients that we consume – protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
What are macronutrients?
Macronutrients (macros) are nutrients the body needs in large amounts.
The body needs macronutrients for growth, repair, hormone production, mental and physical performance, and sleep quality. These are a few reasons why we need macronutrients.
Let’s take a closer look at the individual macronutrients.
Macronutrients (Protein + Fat + Carbs = Total Calories)
Protein: Protein is important and necessary for sustaining health. It helps build and repair muscles, organs, skin, hair, nails, bones, certain hormones and much more. Protein is in high amounts in meat, poultry, fish, beans, dairy, and eggs, and in smaller amounts in nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Fat: Fat is crucial in hormone production, fat-soluble vitamin absorption, and regulating inflammation. It insulates and protects the bones and organs, and acts as a second energy source to fuel the body. Healthy unsaturated fats are in plant-based foods like olive oil, avocado, seeds, nuts, and fatty fish (salmon, sardines). Unhealthy fats (trans/hydrogenated) in cookies, cakes, pies, and other processed foods.
Carbohydrate: Carbohydrates provide energy for the body and brain. It is the body’s primary source of fuel. Carbs are in plant foods, like fruits, vegetables, and beans and they are in milk and yogurt.
Number of Macros You Need
The USDA recommends these healthy ranges:
- Carbohydrate: 45 to 65 percent
- Fat: 20 to 35 percent
- Protein: 10 to 35 percent
If you know how many calories you need to consume based on your goal (weight loss, weight gain, or maintenance), then you will calculate your macros by taking the macronutrient percentage of the calories based on the USDA healthy ranges.
My Current Calories and Macros
I decreased my calories, since my last weight loss update, but my macro percentages are the same. I have finally found a calorie range that works.
As of today, I have stopped using the MyFitnessPal app, and I am back to using the Fitbit app. Using one app is more comfortable, and I will share more about this in a future blog post.
The total calories below is for weight loss. If I were eating for maintenance or even weight gain, the calories would probably be at least 300-500 calories more.
Calories in Macros
- Carbohydrate: 1 gram equals four calories
- Fat: 1 gram equals nine calories
- Protein: 1 gram equals four calories
My Total Calories: 1360 kcal
- Carbohydrate: 1360 x 45% = 612/4 = 153 grams
- Fat: 1360 x 25% = 340/9 = 38 grams
- Protein: 1360 x 30% = 408/4 = 102 grams
Not Always Perfect
Sometimes, I am over or under the amount macronutrients, but as long as I am in the healthy macro range and I do not go over total calories, I’m good. It still results in weight loss, which is my goal.
Stay the course, find what works for you and roll with it.
Resources: Superior Fat Loss by Jay and Fitbit
Discussion: Do you use any apps to help you count macros/calories? Share what you use in the comments below.