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Why Macros Matter

By Pam Nisevich Bede, MS, RD, CSSD, LD
ZonePerfect Nutritionist

December 2019

Why do macros matter? To answer this question, it’s best to start at the beginning. That is, defining what macros are and how they can work for you.

Why do macros matter

Let’s Talk Macronutrients

Simply put, macros, or macronutrients, are nutrients that provide the body with energy; carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Oftentimes, these nutrients are displayed in pie chart form with individuals seeking out the “perfect” macronutrient distribution to help them meet health, performance, & weight goals. When it comes to energy provision, a gram of carbohydrate and a gram of protein each provide 4 calories per gram. Energy-dense fat provides 9 calories per gram. Alcohol provides 7 calories per gram but since it’s not essential for life (debatable) it’s not included in a macronutrient distribution.

Talk Macronutrients

Wait, macronutrient distribution? What?

Simply put, it’s the percentage of calories coming from carbs, protein, and fat (typically listed in that order). The percentages that work best vary based on individual goals. For weight loss, many find that a lower percentage of calories from carbs is best. For endurance performance, many find that a higher percentage of (quick-burning) carbs are best. For a keto diet, a very low percentage of calories from carbs, a moderate intake of protein, and a high percentage of calories from fat are necessary. Strength athletes often look for a moderately low percentage of calories from carbs and a fairly even split of energy from protein and fat. While it’s not an exact science on what makes a perfect distribution, there is research to support specific distributions based on specific goals.

What is right for me?

We’ve taken a deep dive into the research to find the most optimal macronutrient distributions. Looking for balanced weight loss? Or to cut back on sugar? Or going Paleo? Start with 40/30/30 (carbs/pro/fat). Looking to burn body fat through ketosis? Look no further than a precise blend of 5/20/75.

right for me

Portly portions

Think you’re on the right track but not seeing the scale move in the right direction? Your portions could be to blame. Many of us find that, over time, our portions get bigger and bigger (waist circumference to follow). By tracking your intake and your macros you may find that the culprit is second helpings, heaping servings, and generous rations.

Portly portions

Nutrient Goals

You have a goal of eating more protein or fat or carbs but you’re not sure if you’re anywhere close to meeting said goal. Let’s say you have a goal in mind of eating 1g of protein per pound of your ideal body weight. This type of goal usually adds up to a macro intake that’s fairly balanced throughout the day – say 40/30/30- as it’s relatively high in protein. Naturally, to offset those protein calories, carbs decrease. But if you don’t track, how will you know if you got there?

Nutrient Goals

Confused counter

You’re eating foods that you (think) are moving you towards your goals but your pant size and your energy levels don’t concur. Tracking macros can help you determine if there are foods in your diet that aren’t loving you back. Example. You love mixed nuts and consider them your go-to for protein. But when you begin to track macros you realize they are high in fat and totally derailing your daily calorie goals without providing the protein you crave.

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