As we all know by now, not all calories are created equal. So, counting them is often a fruitless task. Instead, we should probably spend more time on our individual physical and personal needs. Enter; macro counting. Short for “macronutrients,” macros refers to carbohydrates, fats, and proteins—the three basic components of every diet. By focusing on these three elements, you can better optimise your diet, whether you’re looking to build muscle or lose weight.
Here, in an extract from her new book, The Bikini Body 28-Day Healthy Eating & Lifestyle Guide, Kayla Itsines breaks it down macronutrients further for us.
What are macronutrients?
The term ‘macro’ means large, and macronutrients are nutrients our bodies need in large amounts.
Carbohydrates, protein, and fats are the three macronutrients we cannot live without. We need to consume these every day in large amounts in order to stay alive and healthy.
Why are they important?
Carbohydrates, protein, and fats provide our bodies with the building blocks we need for growth, metabolism, and body function. They also provide us with energy. However, it is important to note that each provides us with slightly different amounts of energy.
How to count macronutrients
1 gram of carbohydrate provides 4 calories (17 kJ)
1 gram of protein provides 4 calories (17 kJ)
1 gram of fat provides 9 calories (38 kJ)
Each macronutrient has different effects on satiety (the feeling of ‘fullness’ we get after a meal that causes us to stop eating). Simply speaking, protein has the strongest effect on satiety, followed by carbohydrates and fats respectively. In other words, protein makes you feel more full.
Both of these things are important to bear in mind if you want to lose weight or fat. For example, at 9 calories per gram, along with their lower effects on satiety, fats (such as peanut butter) can be easy to eat in excessive amounts. This may result in us eating more calories that we need without even realising it, and can potentially result in weight gain. We still need fats in our diet, but it is important to distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fats and to determine what an appropriate intake is.
It is essential for us to understand how each of these three macronutrients is used by the body and how eating too much of any one of them can cause health problems.