There are two types of nutrients that organisms require to live and thrive. The first are micronutrients, named so because they are only required in trace amounts. These are vitamins and minerals, for example. The second are macronutrients — proteins, carbs, and fats — required in large quantities by the human body. Macros, as we call them, are the substances the body uses to create energy and tissue. While there are entire entire college degrees and textbooks dedicated to the subject, for the sake of scope, we’ll provide the SparkNotes version.
Protein is the most essential macro for those who live an active lifestyle because it plays a crucial role in muscular growth (aka hypertrophy; aka gainz) and repair. When you workout, you are breaking down your muscles, so you need to consume an adequate amount of protein to rebuild them. While protein has many other essential functions in the human body, it is considered the most important macro when it comes to body composition. Inadequate protein consumption will result in muscle loss.
Carbs have a bad rap. Despite popular belief, they don’t make you fat. They are an essential source of energy, so you need them to function, feel good, and perform optimally. In fact, anaerobic exercise (non-endurance sports that promote strength, speed, power, and the building of muscle mass) uses glucose (carbs) as a main source of fuel. So, when you have no glycogen to use during training, your body recruits amino acids (protein) as a backup. Know what that means? Muscle loss. To add to that, carb restriction over time can damage your metabolism, which explains why so many people on low-carb diets tend to gain weight very quickly once they’re done dieting. A lack of carbs in your diet can also impair cognitive function. The point? Stop being afraid of carbs.
At 9 calories per gram, fat is the most calorically dense of the macronutrients. This may have led to the inaccurate belief that fat makes you fat. While it’s easy to consume a lot of calories from fats, they are still an essential macronutrient for performance and body composition among other things including: growth, energy, vitamin absorption, joint lubrication, organ cushioning, and hormonal balance. So, making healthy and informed fat choices are important.
That covers the basic functions of protein, carbs, and fats, which are all vital to human function and optimization.The concept behind counting macros is to ensure you have the proper ratio of fats, carbs and protein to maintain energy and muscle growth, while changing your body for the better.