What are Macros?
What the heck is a Macro? … and how does it matter in LCHF (Low-Carb, High Fat) diets?
Macros or Macronutrients are the main nutrients that make up the food we consume. When someone refers to Macros they are talking about FATS, PROTEINS and CARBOHYDRATES.
Macro essentially means “large” and this is why we refer to Fats, Proteins and Carbs as MACROnutrients because, your body needs to consume large amounts of these. There is also Micronutrients and these generally are considered the vitamins and minerals your body needs.
Why are Macros important to Low-Carb?
When doing various LCHF diets such as Keto (Ketogenic diet) you are actually changing your Macro balances from that of a traditional western diet.
With traditional diets your body uses carbohydrates for energy and generally the majority of your calories consumed are coming from those carbs. You eat things like breads, grains, refined sugars, candy, sodas and starchy vegetables like potatoes. These make up the bulk of your calories for that day. This typically results in 50-65% of your macros coming from Carbs.
This is NOT the case in most Low-carb diets. Quite the opposite really. You are limiting those carbohydrates you consume each day to much lower amounts. And with most popular lower-carb diets today your instead increasing the amount of healthy fats you eat.
What should my macros be?
What should your macro balance be? This will really depend on the diet you are doing, personal preferences and what your goals are.
Ketogenic diet: With Keto most people are going to set their daily macros at around 70% Fat / 25% Protein / 5% Carbs. This is one of the more carbohydrate restrictive diets. It should be noted that most on Keto try to limit their carbs to 20g-30g per day.
LCHF: Kind of a blanket term since there are so many variations and personal goals. Most people keep their macros around 60% Fat / 30% Protein / 10% Carbs. Generally keep the daily carbs under 50-70g per day.
Atkins 20: This is one that’s similar too Keto. They recommend your macros at 60-70% Fat / 20-30% Protein / 5-10% Carbs.
Atkins 40: Less restrictive than the prior. 55-65% Fat / 20-30% Protein / 10-15% Carbs
Why limit carbs?
Weight loss is probably one of the top reasons today that people are switching to Low-carb High Fat diets. People who switch to low-carb high fat diets, see quicker results than calorie restrictive diets, often experiencing more weight loss in the fatty tissue areas such as around the belly.
Diabetes. Diabetics and pre-diabetics use lower carb diets because they need to control their blood sugar levels. Low carb foods generally don’t have as much of an impact on raising the blood sugar. The extent of the impact from low carb diets vary and is widely debated with some diabetic groups taking official stances that it has no real impact, and others making bolder claims of it completely curing some.
Another reason is to reduce consumption of refined grains and sugars that offer a limited nutritional benefit to your body. They get digested quickly, spike insulin and blood sugar levels and don’t necessarily contribute any vitamins, fibers, minerals to your diet. They are often found in processed foods and junk foods, along with many other fillers, preservatives and various other ingredients that your body doesn’t have use for. So why eat them ?
How do I know what macros I’m eating?
So with all this information your probably wondering how to track how many macros you are eating right? Well, it’s not nearly as complicated as it all may seem. You won’t have to be a dietician or mathematician to keep track of them. Once you have your macros balance figured out you can keep track of them with a simple as scanning a barcode.
Nutritionix Track: We found this after a friends recommendation and are happy to suggest it as our top choice. It’s easy to use and understand. Available on both the APP Store and Google Play. Plus it offers free and premium features.
MyFitnessPal: Similar to Nutritionix Track, and probably more well known. It features most of the same abilities but you will need to pay a subscription to fully setup your macro levels for your specific diet. It also features a big community much like a forum available in the app itself. App Store and Google play.
Hopefully this helps clear up what macros are, how they can effect your your dieting and how to better balance them. It is important to remember macros are all that’s important when dieting. Be sure to check out our article on, Do calories count?