What are macros?

The Basic Information of Macros

By Maria England, NDTR, ABS Team Member

When you begin to look into different diets and information on eating healthier, you will run across the word Macros. So what are macros? Macros is short for Macronutrients, which is protein, carbohydrates, and fat. They are considered macronutrients because we need them in large quantities. There also micronutrients, which are vitamins and minerals, which we need in smaller quantities. For each macro we need a certain percentage to live a healthy lifestyle. These percentages are then used to determine how many calories of each macronutrient you need based on your overall calories.

The macronutrient we need in the highest quantity is actually carbohydrates. The recommended amount we should have on a daily basis is 45-65% of our total diet. This seems like a lot, but there are many foods that are considered carbohydrates. Grains, starchy vegetables, non-starchy vegetables, fruit, and many processed foods are all part of the carbohydrate category. It is important to focus on the healthier carbohydrates like non-starchy vegetables and fruit, and have a small portion of starchy vegetables and grains. Also limiting processed foods as much as possible since they do not contain many nutrients. A good rule of thumb is that at every meal, half of your plate should be non-starchy vegetables and/or fruit and a quarter of your plate being starchy vegetables or whole grains. This is due to the fact that you can actually eat more non-starchy vegetables and fruit than other carbohydrates for the same amount of calories, plus they contain more nutrients. All carbohydrates are 4 calories per gram, but with fruits and vegetables they usually weigh less than other carbohydrates. It is important to have carbohydrates in your diet, especially healthy ones because they are what our body uses for energy. 

Protein is another very important macronutrient because it helps to build and maintain muscles and tissues. The recommended percentage of proteins we should consume in our daily diet is 10-35%. If you are very active you will eat more protein than most, but remember you have to adjust your other macros to make sure they all equal 100%. For every gram of protein it equals 4 calories, which is the same as carbohydrates. There are healthier proteins sources, mainly because animal proteins do contain fat, and that varies based on the different animals and cuts of meat. Animal protein is a higher quality protein though compared to vegetable protein, with the exception of soybeans. ABS Pancakes uses animal protein, because it does contain a higher quality of protein compared to other sources of protein.

The last macronutrient is fat, which is actually an essential part of any diet. We need 20-35% of our diet to contain fat, but like the other categories there are better sources. Fat also has to be eaten in smaller quantities, since unlike protein and carbohydrates it actually contains 9 calories per gram. It is better to pick unsaturated fat foods and to cook with products that are mainly unsaturated fats too. This is due to the fact that saturated fats do increase our bad lipids in the blood stream and lead to a higher risk of heart disease. We need fats in our diet because it does contain important vitamins and minerals and also contains fatty acids, such as omega-3, which is found in fatty fish.

Macronutrients are the main nutrients in our diet and it is important to have a good balance of these macronutrients. The recommended amount is based off the general public to help ensure the proper nutrients are received, and they are flexible to adjust for different needs!

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