"All I hear all day long at school is how great Macros did this, or how wonderful Macros did that. Macros, Macros, Macros."
- Cals from the Brunch Bunch
Okay, so I took some creative liberties from the Brady Bunch from when Jan got fed up with how great Marcia is. And rightfully so, Marcia had it going on. But Jan has a purpose too, and without Jan there would be no Marcia.
And without Calories there would be no Macros.
The fitness industry has some buzz words ringing loud and it has to do with Macronutrients. All foods are comprised of macronutrients: Fats, Carbohydrates and Protein. Alcohol is also considered a macronutrient but is a little bit of an outlier. Alcohol is not essential for our survival... Although some can argue it is.
All Macronutrients have calories: Protein and Carbs sit at 4 calories per gram, where as fats are denser in calories and sit at 9 calories per gram. Alcohol is 7 calories per gram. However, alcohol is commonly tracked as a fat, carb or a combination of both.
So when you're looking at a nutrition label you'll see Calories, Total Fats, Total Carbohydrates, and Protein.
One thing to note is underneath Total Fats there's a break down of saturated, unsaturated, trans fat and cholesterol. Underneath Total Carbohydrates there's a breakdown of sugar and dietary fiber.
Fats are fats whether it's a saturated fat (animal fat, cheeses), trans fat (baked goods, processed foods) or polyunsaturated fat (seeds, fish, some nuts) or a monounsaturated fat (avocados, vegetable oil & some nuts). The main unit of all fats is triglycerides.
Fats are 9 calories per gram.
Carbohydrates are carbohydrates whether it's table sugar, sweet potatoes, apples, cantaloupe or twizzlers. The main unit of carbohydrates is a monosaccharide.
Carbs are 4 calories per gram
Protein is special because molecularly it's different than both carbohydrates and fats. Protein consists of something more than just hydrogen, oxygen and carbon. It also has nitrogen, hence those big mass gainz supplements reading in massive letters "Nitrate Supplementation Helps with Oxygenation. #swolemates." Anyway, protein doesn't have any sub categories. The main unit of Protein is amino acids.
Protein is 4 calories per gram
These three macronutrients are sources of energy, and also play vital individual roles in the composition of our body's. Fats are important because of hormone balance, absorption of vitamins and minerals, and they also help cushion your organs and maintain cell membranes. Carbs are fuel for the body and are the first source of energy to be used. Protein is the body's builder, it helps build all of your tissues from tendons, fingernails, hair, skin, muscles, organs, and bones. They also produce hemoglobins and enzymes. Protein is very important to having a healthy, functioning body.
If you are looking for nutrition coaching and want to lose weight or re-composite your body, I do nutrition coaching and you can contact me here.
Is it better to count calories or count macronutrients?
Let's do a quick math problem with a nutrition label from Oreos:
So total calories are 160. There's 7g of fat, which is 63 calories from fat. 25 carbs, which is 100 calories from carbs, and then 1 g of protein, which is another 4 calories.
Is this label correct?
It's actually 167 cals per serving. Though the 7 calories doesn't seem like a big deal, but do you think this is the only company that rounds their calories? Absolutely not.
The FDA oversees companies and how they label their foods. However, there is a "rounding rule" put forth by the agency to allow companies to round their calories, as long as the grams are to the nearest 1g.
So when people are calorie counting and they believe to be in a "caloric deficit" but are not losing any weight. They might be in what they believe is a calorie deficit by what the labels read, however, in actuality those extra 7 calories add up. And that calorie deficit you believed, might not be a deficit at all.
When it comes to Macro counting, it's the most accurate version of calorie counting.
There are errors and nothing is absolutely perfect, but it is a way to track calories to mold your body.
I started losing weight by calorie counting. And it worked very well for me and I was able to lose close to 70 pounds, and have been maintaining my weight from December 2014 to now. And I'm very proud about this because there are way too many people who lose a great deal of weight and then put it back on quickly.
I'm also very proud about this because not only have I been able to keep it off, but I've gained the knowledge to help other lose weight, and effectively keep it off because I don't just coach, I teach how to balance your macronutrients and calories.
My philosophy when it comes to weight loss is this: It has to be a full blown lifestyle change. Because what you are doing now isn't working. So if incorporating calorie counting is going to be the jumpstart you need, that has to become a part of your lifestyle. When you're watching tv, track your calories. When you're at lunch, track your calories. When you're getting ready for bed, track your calories. When you're sitting on the john, track your calories. You just do it because the number one rule about losing weight is this: you need to know what your calories in vs your calories out are.
When you start comfortably tracking calories, moving toward counting macronutrients is an advanced form of calorie counting. But it's also a way to help transform your physique. Because there are certain percentages the United State Department of Agriculture do recommended, and we all can recite it, but many do not practice it.