Macronutrients 101

Macronutrients-aka-macros, have recently been the topic of much discussion in the health and fitness world. I had not really heard much about them until a few months ago, but when  started looking into the topic, I realized that there was a ton I had to learn. While there are people whose main weight loss and maintenance strategy is counting macros that may not be for you. But, I do believe that understanding the nutritional building blocks our bodies need, will at a minimum, help you to better filter through the myths that circulate around, promising amazing results while only eating Cheetos.

While I love fitness and creating workout plans for clients, I am still finding my footing when it comes to nutrition. So, I called in a friend to break things down for you. Jenna has tons of certifications that make her sound fancy, but I love her simple approach. If this kind of thing is something you would love to learn more about, I highly recommend checking out her VIP nutrition coaching program. If you want to follow her for more tips and lots of great info, check out her social media links below!

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Other than alcohol, all calories in the diet come from protein, carbohydrates, and fat. These are your macronutrients because they are nutrients that your body needs in large quantities. Alcohol calories are empty and excessive consumption will stall progress. When considering body composition success, we must educate ourselves on five important variables: calorie balance, macronutrient amounts, nutrient timing, food composition, and supplements (in that order). By understanding macronutrients and how they affect our body composition, all other variables will fall into place and you will feel more in control of your body! Let’s break down each of the three macronutrients in simple terms and discuss strategies that you can begin implementing today to move your health forward!

Macronutrients

Macronutrients 101

Protein

Protein offers 4 calories per gram and provides amino acids for muscle repair. With every meal, protein balances blood sugar which can aid in weight loss. For body composition purposes (weight-loss or fat-loss), protein is the most important nutrient, for the sole reason that muscle is made out of it. In essence, protein both builds new muscle and saves existing muscle from being lost. Both functions are important in maximizing muscle and minimizing fat. In addition, our hair, skin, and nails are made-up of protein as well.

When adjusting your macronutrients, a general guideline is to set your protein between 0.82 grams to 1 gram per pound of bodyweight. For example, if you weigh 130 pounds you should be targeting at least 106 grams of protein per day.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates offer 4 calories per gram. The optimal amount of dietary carbohydrates varies for each individual. A moderate carbohydrate intake may be better for those who are active and women with menstrual problems, while a low carbohydrate intake may be better for those who are obese, have epilepsy, diabetes, PCOS and other conditions. For body composition purposes, carbohydrates are second in importance to protein. In terms of body composition, the primary role of carbohydrates is to provide energy for the hard workouts that build muscle. Fiber, while not digested or absorbed by the body, is critical for satiety (feeling full), reducing blood sugar, improving intestinal and gut health, and aids in weight control.

When tracking macronutrients, I will typically have my clients keep a close eye on their fiber consumption. Eating too little fiber or too much fiber can leave you bloated, gassy, and feeling very uncomfortable. A general guideline for women is to aim for 25 grams to 35 grams of fiber in the diet, while men should aim for 35 grams to 45 grams of fiber in the diet.

Fat

Fat offers 9 calories per gram. Children need more fat than adults because healthy fat aids in children’s brain development and growth. Fats are also good for brain function in adults and are a great energy source for long fitness related efforts.

Beyond meeting the minimum requirement of 40 grams per day, fats do not seem to offer much in terms of body composition benefits. However, they work great as a calorie buffer if your needs are targeted towards increasing calorie consumptions.

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It is important to understand that there is an appropriate nutrient strategy for many different goals. Your body needs different nutrients to work effectively, based on your body size, body type, activity level, and specific goals. If you are currently following a specific macronutrient distribution and are not seeing results, this is likely due to adaptation. Your body adapts to its stressors and the availability of different nutrients. We all have a specific set point that our bodies want to continually go back to. When we deviate from that set point, our bodies adapt. If you have been following the same macronutrients for a while now, and these numbers worked for you in the past but you have seemed to hit a weight loss plateau, your numbers MUST be adjusted because of adaptation. It is very important to keep up with your ever-changing body in order to continue to see results.

In addition, deviating from calorie balance (balancing your calorie intake based on the 3 macronutrients) or macronutrient amounts (especially protein) can seriously hinder your goals. Supplementation, and food timing are things to consider, but they typically offer minimal benefits. They are not necessarily something you need to focus on, unless you are feeling confident and clear with your calorie balance and macronutrient needs! Macronutrient amounts and calories are much more powerful in their effect on body composition!

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If you are new to this and want to learn more, check out Jenna’s:

Periscope: @jennacarelli

About Jenna

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Jenna is a Fitness Nutrition Specialist, Crossfit Coach, Run Coach, Personal Trainer, and Small Business Mentor. Jenna runs an online business under J.Carelli Consulting, LLC in the health and wellness space, where she works 1:1 with individuals who are looking to reach body composition (weight-loss and fat-loss) goals through realistic means. Jenna helps her clients understand that achieving desired health and fitness goals does not need to take you away from your family, friends, and community and that the diet that works best for you is the one that you can stick with forever, and not short-term fad diets that don’t last. Jenna also mentor’s fitness professionals with an established brand or business and enthusiasts with an idea for a brand or business, who are unsure how to get started.

Need some help while eating out?

Grab this awesome Restaurant Ordering Tip Sheet from Jenna!

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