What’s the fuss about macros?

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There’s a new buzzword in town – macros. You might have heard of “counting macros”,  seen the phrase “if it fits your macros” (IIFYM) or perhaps even the term “flexible dieting”.  Although once found only in the bodybuilding community, counting macros has expanded to everyday people looking to reach their body composition goals.

But what the heck is it? You’ve heard of counting calories, where you track your food intake in order to eat a certain number of calories a day. Counting macros follows a similar concept. “Macros” is short for macro-nutrients, which are required in large amounts by the body for growth. The three macros– carbohydrates (carbs), fats and protein, are present in varied
foods, and contain calories. Macro counting  involves eating a specific number of carbs, fats and protein a day. When calculated correctly, counting macros directly influences your body composition.

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When food enters your body, it simply digests it and utilises the nutrients. Your body sees food for its individual components – carbs, fat, protein and micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals). Because of this, your body can’t tell if food is healthy or unhealthy.

So if your body can’t tell if food is healthy or unhealthy, does this mean you can go ahead and eat burgers and chocolate every day? Heck no! Firstly, refined foods barely contain any essential nutrients like protein, vitamins and minerals. Secondly, refined foods have less fiber, and are therefore less likely to fill you up. Fiber is present in fruits and vegetables and not only does it give you that full feeling after a meal, it’s essential for gut health. To give an example of the importance of fiber, compare a whole banana, and 10 jellybeans. Both of these have the exact same amount of carbs (present as sugar), and your body processes them exactly the same way. However the banana not only contains more micro-nutrients, but also more fiber, and is going to fill you up a lot more than just 10 jellybeans while providing your body the energy it needs to function properly.

With the right knowledge of food, counting macros does allow you flexibility with your dietary choices – hence the term flexible dieting. You can have dinner out with your family, popcorn on girls night, or a few drinks on a night on the town. Will counting macros work for everyone? Just like any diet or lifestyle choice, there’s no one thing that will work for everyone. It can be frustrating, obsessive, and time consuming. But with some trial and error and a little forward planning, counting macros can allow you to reach your body composition goals, while having your cake and eating it too!

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