When it comes to achieving your fitness goals, whether it’s losing fat, building muscle, or simply maintaining a healthy weight, two important factors to consider are your macronutrient and caloric intake. However, as what the title mentions, we will only talk about macros for this blog post and saving 'calories' for a more in depth blog. Macro guidelines and what we typically do for our clients will be all the way at the bottom of this blog.
Macros, short for macronutrients, refer to the three main nutrients that the body needs in large amounts to function properly: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Let's start with Carbs!
Carbs: Fueling Your Body Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the body, providing glucose to fuel the brain, nervous system, and muscles, which is why they naturally make up the largest percentage of your macro ratio.
For individuals looking to bulk up, or gain more mass, adding more carbs to your diet can provide the extra fuel needed to lift heavier weights and support muscle growth. And, it’s also the easiest macro to increase in your diet. However, for individuals looking to lose weight, it’s important to be mindful of the type and amount of carbs consumed. Complex carbs such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can provide long-lasting energy, while simple carbs like sugar and processed foods can lead to spikes in blood sugar levels and hinder weight loss progress.
Why Avoid Simple Sugar
Simple sugars are considered "bad" carbs because they are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, causing a rapid increase in blood sugar levels. This is known as a "blood sugar spike". When blood sugar levels rise too quickly, the body releases insulin to help bring them back down by moving glucose from the bloodstream into the cells where it can be used for energy or stored for later use. Over time, the constant release of insulin can lead to insulin resistance, which is a condition where the body's cells become less responsive to insulin. This can eventually lead to type 2 diabetes, as the body is no longer able to regulate blood sugar levels effectively.
Additionally, simple sugars provide little to no nutritional value, as they lack the fiber, vitamins, and minerals found in complex carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This means that they can contribute to weight gain and other health issues when consumed in excess. Protein: Building and Repairing Muscles Protein is essential for building and repairing muscles, making hormones and enzymes, and supporting various bodily functions.
Consuming more protein towards the higher range can help grow and recover more efficiently when weightlifting. During a cut, or a period of caloric deficit, increasing protein intake can also help preserve muscle mass and keep you feeling full for longer periods of time. Good sources of protein include chicken, fish, lean meats, eggs, and plant-based options such as beans and lentils.
Complete vs Incomplete Protein
Protein is made up of building blocks called amino acids. There are 20 different amino acids that can make up various forms of protein. 9 of the 20 amino acids are essentials, meaning the body can't produce them on it's own and could only obtain through food.
Complete protein are food that consist all 9 essential amino acids; examples are animal-based proteins such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy; and plant-based source protein such as, quinoa, soy, and buckwheat.
Incomplete protein, lack one or more essential amino acids. You would considered most plant-based protein are incomplete, such as beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds. Grains and fruits would be in this category as well. However, while these proteins are incomplete, they can be combined with other protein sources to create complete protein meals. Fat: Not All Fats Are Bad Not all fats are created equal. While it’s true that fats contain more calories per gram than carbs and protein, which is why they make up the least amount of percentage in the macro ratio, it doesn’t necessarily mean they should be avoided. Fats help the body absorb vitamins, store energy, reduce inflammations, plays a role in hormone production, and are essential for proper brain function.
Consuming healthy saturated fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can provide those numerous health benefits. Good sources of healthy fats include nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, and fatty fish like salmon.
Bad fats, such as unsaturated and trans fat should be limited as they can can increase LDL (Low-Density-Lipoprotein, or "bad cholesterol" which can build up plaque in the arteries, ultimately increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Unsaturated fat are commonly found in fried foods, bacon, cream, margarine, and butter. Tran fats are created when unsaturated fats are partially hydrogenated, which is a process commonly used in food manufacturing to increase the shelf life of products. Trans fat are commonly found in any highly processed and packaged foods.
Tying it Together: The Importance of Balance
It’s important to remember that each macro plays an important role in the body and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to macro ratios. Manipulating the ratio of carbs, protein, and fat to fit your individual needs and goals is key. It’s also important to avoid labeling any macros as “good” or “bad” and to avoid fully restricting any macro from your diet, as all three are essential to your bodily needs. Achieving the perfect macro balance takes time, patience, and a willingness to make slow adjustments over time. Remember, balance is key to achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
How We Approach Individuals Fitness Goals
During bulk phase, we focus on increasing the carbs and protein while still consuming sufficient amount of healthy fats. This way the person can ultimately be on a caloric surplus, have more energy to increase their workload, and protein to help with recovery and support muscle growth. When cutting, we initially cut down the carbs first, while adding low-intensity cardio in their regimen, this inevitably increases the macro ratio for protein higher while being in a caloric deficit.
Our Macro Guidelines
Standard 45-65% carbs 10-35% protein 20-35% fat
Weight Loss 20-35% carbs (lower) 35-40% protein (increase) 20-25% fat