It does not matter if you just want to look good or if your goal is to turn your body into a finely tuned performance machine, your diet will be one of the cornerstones.
If you do not eat properly, you can exercise on an epic level and your results will never be as good as they would be with a proper diet. Conversely, by eating smart, you will be fueling your system in a way that will allow for peak performance every single time.
Unfortunately, the field of nutrition is such a complex one, with people from all sides coming forward with their advice and their experiences. Even the people who make a living by helping others with their diets often disagree on what to eat, how much of it to eat and when to eat it.
Luckily, there are a few nutrition tenets everyone agrees on and one of these are macros, or macronutrients, as is their full name.
The Definition of Macronutrients
Basically, macronutrients are those nutrients which your body requires in relatively large quantities in order to function properly. According to some people, only carbohydrates, proteins and fats can be called macronutrients, while others also include minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and zinc.
However, as far as nutrition and performance are concerned, macronutrients are the first three – proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
On a chemical level, proteins are polymer chains of amino acids which are held together by peptide bonds. On a biological level, proteins are one of the building blocks of body tissue and they can also be used as fuel.
Proteins are also crucial for building muscle tissue and people who wish to grow muscles will have to ingest larger quantities of foods rich in protein. These foods will include eggs, dairy, fish, meat, as well as protein shakes as a form of supplementation.
It should also be pointed out that the human body requires quite a bit of energy to digest proteins, which means that more calories are burned during the digestion of protein than other macros.
Carbohydrates are molecules which consist of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms and they come in a variety of forms – such as sugars, cellulose and starch, just to name a few. In the human body, carbohydrates are stored as glycogen, mostly in the liver, blood, muscles and the brain. The role of carbs is mainly that of fuel.
Carbohydrates are often considered the villains of nutrition and many people believe that a low-carb diet is the way to go. While it is definitely a good idea to limit one’s intake of carbs (especially those coming in a very processed form), nothing drastic is ever the solution.
Fats are the third macronutrient and they play a number of different roles in the human body. For one, they aid in vitamin absorption as well as hormone regulation. They also help maintain healthy brain functions and they store energy, unfortunately in the form of adipose tissue.
Fats can be found in all kinds of foods such as meat, nuts, fatty fish, oils and so on. It should also be pointed out that fats come in a variety of types and that not all of them are equally good or bad for you.
Why Are Macros Important?
Macros are important for a very simple reason – they provide your body with calories. If you ingest more calories than you spend, you gain weight. If you ingest less than you use, you lose weight.
That is pretty much weight loss described in two very simple sentences.
While all three macronutrients will provide your body with a certain amount of calories, if you are looking to boost your physical performance and build a certain type of body, you will need to know how much of these three to put into your body on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, depending on what your goals are, what your current situation is, your medical history and so much more, the math will be excruciatingly complex. The good news is that the good people from Legion Athletics have come up with a calculator which will help you determine how much macros to eat to meet your goals.
For the most part, a diet that is high in protein and low in carbs and fat will get the job done. However, for truly spectacular results, you will need to go into detail and find out exactly how to eat.