I get a lot of emails from people who want to know more about macros and whether or not tracking them is pivotal for body transformation. The simple answer to this is NO, not initially, but eventually, it is something you will benefit from hugely, yes.
I want to talk you through macros step by step so you can understand what they are, why they are important and whether or not you need to be tracking them yet:
- WHAT ARE MACRONUTRIENTS?
Macronutrients are the nutrients our bodies need in order to function and stay healthy. Technically there are 2 – complete proteins and essential fatty acids – but carbohydrates are so important and so full of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, fibre etc) that we count them too.
So there are 3 macros: complete proteins (not things like veg and nuts which are incomplete proteins our bodies already make in spades, think more dead animals, sorry), essential fatty acids (omegas) and carbohydrates (fruit, veg and starches).
- DO I NEED TO TRACK MACROS IN ORDER TO CHANGE MY BODY?
First and foremost, clean up your diet. If you cut out refined sugars (chocolate, pastries, sweets, sodas etc) and trans fats (processed foods, junk food, takeaways etc) your body is going to be able to use your food intake as FUEL instead of storing it as FAT. Not to mention how much healthier you are going to be, look and feel.
After you’ve gotten used to a clean and healthy diet, and it does take some getting used to, you need to get your calorie count right. Any kind of aesthetic transformation comes down to energy input (calories from food) VS energy output (movement and exercise). IT’S THAT SIMPLE!
Everybody has basal metabolic rate, this is the amount of calories your body needs to survive and function in day to day life. If you train, you obviously need to add to this count if you want to maintain your aesthetic physique. If you want to lose, you obviously need to make sure you are hitting your BMR number but that you are not in a calorie surplus so training has the desired effect. If you want to gain, you need to make sure you hit your BMR number and are in a calorie surplus so your muscles are fed and up to the task of growing. TO FIND OUT YOUR BMR NUMBER USE THE HARRIS BENEDICT EQUATION.
Once your calorie count is where you need to be, you can start thinking about your macronutrients: so do you have a BALANCED diet of fats, proteins and carbs? And do you know when and why to eat the above?
- My Fitness Pal, HOW, AND WHY PEOPLE TRACK THEIR MACROS:
Mr Smith wants to gain some muscle, so he gets his BMR sorted and adds enough calories to fuel his training and ensure muscle growth. He will then download My Fitness Pal (as there really is no better way to track macros) and split his calorie count into the 3 macro %s. For example 40% protein, 50% carbohydrates, 10% fats.
There are ways of determining EXACTLY how many grams of each macro your body needs daily, according to each 1lb of your bodyweight. To be honest I have never had to do this, but if your goal is to compete, I suggest you do.
At the end of the day how you split your %s is completely up to you and dependent on your goals, but it will take some time and trial and error to figure out what works best for your body. EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT.
You MUST ALWAYS have a % of all 3, so please don’t think you’re being clever by cutting out fats or carbs, that really is NOT the point and you’ve got it all wrong if you thing that’s what tracking macros is all about.
Remember that complete protein aids the repair of torn muscle tissue, so it’s a good idea to fuel up on it pre and post training.
Remember that starchy carbs convert to glycogen in the muscle, fuelling it, so again it is a good idea to have them pre and post training.
Remember that fats regulate our hormones and aid the break down of adipose (fatty) tissue, but they are high in calories, so have eggs, avocado or nuts in moderation, somewhere in your daily diet.
Be patient. My Fitness Pal is a schlog initially but it does become second nature eventually. I promise.