The Deal with Macros

We have all heard of macros and sometimes haven’t been entirely sure what they are. Understanding macronutrients doesn't have to be complicated and can be beneficial for your goals of maintaining your well being.

According to a report by the CDC, the average carbohydrate intake for men is 46.4% of their daily calories, while carbs make up 48.2% of calories daily for women. What is best for your goals and body is going to vary. The human body only needs a certain number of calories for its normal daily functions. Our deep-dive below will help describe a few key elements, including:

  • What macronutrients are
  • How macros aid our bodies
  • How tracking/managing macros will help you with goals of health and weight management


What are Macros?

 Macros are nutrients that provide fuel for the body in calories or energy. Each of the three macronutrients, protein, carbohydrates, and fat, have their energy profile in the form of calories per gram. They also have individual roles in the function of our body, the building of muscle, and our overall vitality. Since they are MACROS, they have to be in our diets in larger quantities than our micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, etc.).

Tracking macronutrients can help balance the amount of energy we store. Any Excess energy is stored in the body as fat tissue to be burned later. Calories are also essential for the growth, repair, and maintenance of the vital processes of our bodies.

Using macros to your advantage means tracking and being aware of your intake so that you can manage your weight gain or loss as well as your recovery from exercise and daily activities.

The Role of Carbs

Within the category of carbohydrates are both simple and complex carbs. Simple carbohydrates are easier to digest and are less processed. These can come from sources like potatoes, rice, starchy vegetables, syrup, and honey. They are the quickest energy sources and easy to break down hence the name.

Complex carbohydrates form by a string of sugar molecules that are more difficult to break down because of their fiber. Your green leafy vegetables, oats, potatoes, lentils, and corn are examples of complex carbohydrates. Since carbs are excellent for fuel, we would want sources that keep us feeling full.


Carbohydrates come from starchy vegetables like potatoes and rice and fruits and grains. Other carb options do not provide the same ideal source, such as sugary foods and certain high glycemic fruits that will spike your blood sugar. Not all carbs are beneficial to your goals.

Protein with a Purpose

Protein is essential for each and everybody. It is not just for bodybuilders or people looking to pack on muscle. Protein has a role in immune function growth by preserving your hair, skin, and nails in addition to helping build lean muscle mass. Some great protein sources are meat, chicken, turkey, fish, dairy, and eggs.

The building blocks of protein and amino acids are what our body breaks protein down into. In this form it can go to work, helping to maintain our bodily functions and build the physique that we want. There are even a variety of amino acids.

Essential amino acids do not naturally occur in the body and must come from our diet. However, the body can create non-essential amino acids on its own, and they do not have to come from the food we eat.

Protein from animal sources is considered a complete protein which means that it contains all of the essential amino acids. Some plant-based protein sources have all the amino acids the body can't produce as others do not.

Fat Is Not a Bad Word

Fat sometimes gets a bad name, but it also has a critical role in our bodies. First, understanding that fat is the most energy-dense macronutrient is crucial. At nine calories per gram, fat can allow us to feel fuller after meals but ingesting excess amounts of fat means storing extra calories.

Since it is so calorie-dense, fat is also the most concentrated source of energy of any of the macronutrients so we don’t need the same volume of it. We also need it for ideal hormone production in our body, growth, and recovery. Protecting your cell membranes and serving as a cushion around your vital organs is also part of the role fat plays in our lives. Fat comes from chicken, turkey, fish, meat, nuts, dairy, lentils, and grains.

There are categories of fat like saturated, unsaturated, and trans fats. These are all under the umbrella of fat as a macronutrient. At the same time, trans fats naturally occur in some animal protein sources. They often arise from hydrogenated oil processing. Trans fats happen to be one of the less ideal sources of fat for our overall well being margarine, baked goods, snack foods, all of these processed foods generally provide higher sources of trans fats.

Saturated fats again are not bad and occur naturally in some animal protein sources. So, ideally we do not need to cut these from our diet. However, unless there is something condition-specific to consider, moderation is key.

Nuts, seeds, avocado, and olives are sources of unsaturated fats. Often these get categorized as "good” fats. These indicate a decreased risk of heart disease though we should still consider not ingesting excess amounts of these fats.

The Macro Advantage


Understanding your BMR (basal metabolic rate), allows you to know how much fuel you need in the tank to get through a typical day. Then, adjusting your calories consumed lets you aim for weight loss, muscle growth, or total fat loss and improve your sports performance or modify your physique.

There are ideal amounts of each macronutrient which you will find some variability in those recommendations. Working with a professional is one of the most outstanding paths to a plan for your specific needs.

Speeding up recovery after a challenging workout can require simple carbs that digest quickly and an easy to absorb protein source. Restoring the amino acids in muscles leads to a decrease in soreness and the ability to get back in action sooner.

Macronutrients are a path to understanding how to fuel your body correctly for any goal you have. Reading a nutrition label is a way to gain insight into what you are taking in and how it will affect your body.


Athletes, weekend warriors, and people from every walk of life need the proper fuel to have their best days. Track your food with a journal if you need an idea of what you are eating. It may surprise you that there are gaps that you can address to feel your best and perform better.