Macros for Beginners
Macros for Beginners – Easy to Follow
Okay, I’m going to attempt to discuss the hot and controversial topic of macronutrients. There’s an abundance of contradictory information on the internet about this subject. I’m so tired of reading and getting something different from every article, that I’ve decided to do a bit of trial and error on my own to see what works for me.
Again, this is what I have found to work for me, with my body type, but you can use it a guide in formulating your own ratios. We are all so different. Some of us can tolerate a low-carb diet, while there are others out there, like me, who suffer in performance tremendously while eating low carb. I’ve learned that it’s imperative that I supply my body with enough fuel in order to feel energized throughout my workouts, and not to feel fatigued for the remainder of the day. In the past, whenever I’ve tried to go low-carb, I would suffer from dizziness and pre-syncope. I also felt like laying down all the time. I realized that with the intensity of my training, carbohydrates are a must.
What are macronutrients?
They are nutrients that provide energy for growth, metabolism, and for other body functions. Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fats are macronutrients that are all essential elements of a well-balanced diet. Your body needs all three of these just to function. Let me break it down for you a little bit more.
According to the USDA, this is the macronutrient that our body needs the most. It recommends that 45-65 % of our caloric intake should be from Carbs. Why do we need Carbs?
– Body’s main source of fuel
– Easily used by the body for energy
– All tissues and cells in our body can use glucose for energy
– Needed for central nervous system, the kidneys, the brain and the muscles to function properly
– Important for intestinal health and waste elimination
According to the USDA, our bodies need 10-35% of our calories from protein. Why do we need protein?
– Tissue repair
– Immune function
– Making essential hormones and enzymes
– Energy when carbohydrates are not available
– Preserving lean muscle mass
Now, you see that protein also has the ability to provide our bodies with energy by a process called gluconeogenesis. The body will convert protein cells into a usable glucose form when carbohydrates are not available. When this happens, instead of your body using protein to build/repair muscle, you are burning/losing muscle. That’s why it’s important to use carbs for energy, and to increase your protein intake when you are training and dieting. Preserving muscle also helps maintain your metabolic rate. The last thing you want to do is burn muscle after you’ve worked so hard to build it.
True, too much fat can make you gain weight, but some fat is essential for survival. USDA recommends 20-35% of our calories from fat. It’s important to eat the right fats, unsaturated fats, to decrease your risk of heart disease. So, why do we need fat?
– Normal growth and development
– Energy (fat is the most concentrated source of energy)
– Absorbing certain vitamins
– Providing cushioning for the organs
– Maintaining cell membranes
– Providing taste, consistency and stability to foods
Now here is where things get tricky. What is the right combination to preserve muscle, while losing fat? It will take trial and error for sure. Here is what I’ve come up with for myself, and it has proven to work for myself.
First, you must know your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). It’s the number of calories your body needs to function without doing any physical activities. You should never consume a total number of calories per day below your BMR. Your body will begin to suffer and you might have problems with your metabolism.
Once you know your BMR, you need to figure out about how many more calories you need to be active, but to stay below your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure). This is the actual number of calories you would need in a day to do everything from getting out of bed, cleaning, working out everything. Creating a calorie deficit is the only way to lose weight. Take in less calories than you use. Simple.
So, your magic number should be somewhere in-between your BMR and your TDEE. As long as you stay within the gray area, you should be able to lose weight. Once you lose weight, you need to re-calculate and start again. Now, these are just guidelines. They are not 100 % accurate. If you want to know what your true BMR is, there are actually testing devices than can give you a specific, accurate reading. These devices measure O2 consumption (VO2) to determine how many calories your body burns at rest.
I know this is a lot of information and I hope it helps. I track meals with www.myfitnesspal.com app. It has a huge database of every food you can think of. You can also enter all your calorie and macronutrient goals and it helps you stay on track. You can scan the barcode of almost anything to get an exact nutritional reading.
For a more complete guide of nutrition click here: Nutrition made simple
Nichols, N. (2012, 8 29). The Most Accurate Way to Measure Your Metabolism. Retrieved from SparkPeople.com: www.sparkpeople.com/blog
University of Illinois. (2014). Macronutrient: The Importance of Carbohydrates, Protein and Fat. Retrieved from Http://McKinley.Illinois.edu
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