MACRONUTRIENTS nicknamed macros, are the most misunderstood and underutilize tool for fat loss! If you haven’t started focusing on macros to guide your nutrition, let me be the first to introduce you! Together, you and macros will make quite a fat burning power couple! But slow down, you can’t jump so quickly into your newfound relationship! You have to get to know each other a bit first!
And although it sounds confusing, we made a free, easy to use guide to help you calculate your specific macros and put them to use quickly!
SO WHY DO MACRONUTRIENTS RULE?
Macros are nutrients that give calories (aka energy) to your body. These nutrients are important for growth, metabolism, and all bodily functions (yes, all bodily functions). The prefix macro means “large” so macronutrients are needed in large quantities if you want your body functioning properly.
The flip side of macro is micro, and micronutrients are things like vitamins and minerals. These are still essential to your functioning, but we require much smaller quantities of these.
So macronutrients are needed for energy. Got it. But what are they really?
Macronutrients are more specifically known as:
I know what you’re thinking: that is not new information. I already know what those are.
But just in case, let me refresh your memory on WHAT EACH OF THESE MACROS DO.
CARBOHYDRATES are sugars (and we love our sugar). Trust me, even that savory cracker or breadstick is a sugar.
And when those sugars get into our body, they’re broken down into glucose. The glucose gets moved around our body through our blood to energize our brain, muscles, and cells. Our bodies like to keep our glucose levels are very consistent amounts. If the glucose is too high, our body will store it to use later – and this is where were run into trouble.
You see when you have the right amount of glucose, it all gets used. the first glucose gets burned for immediate energy. Then when you get just a tiny bit extra glucose, your body takes it out of the blood and stores it in your muscles as glycogen. But when you get more than your blood and muscles can handle, your body puts all the extra glucose into your fat calls!
Now sure, too much glucose isn’t good for your fat. But glucose does have some god benefits.
Glucose from sugar is the QUICKEST SOURCE OF ENERGY FOR OUR BODY but it also disappears the quickest (why that afternoon candy bar at work gives us a sugar high and then a sugar crash). But despite what many people think, carbs and glucose are NOT the only source of energy for your body. Fats and proteins can provide that energy too.
But the standard American diet relies mostly on carbs. So they aren’t essential, but they provide the quickest energy source.
Now there are different kinds of carbs and those carbs can change how quickly you get that energy surge. Simple carbs will increase our blood glucose immediately while complex carbs will give you a slow increase over a longer period of time (so it’s a bit more stable energy). So even though all carbs give you energy, complex ones (like sweet potatoes or brown rice) give you more consistent energy, so those afternoon sugar crashes aren’t quite so severe.
Ultimately, we convert carbs to energy. The type of carb we consume changes how the molecule is stored, how quickly our blood glycogen raises, and how quickly our energy levels drop (or crash).
PROTEINS are chains of amino acids. After you eat that chicken or beef, your body takes those long chains of amino acids and breaks them down into their individual parts. Those smaller parts then go to work on building your muscles, preserving muscle loss and building up your immune strength. Proteins are essential because these little amino acids they help us grow and preserve tissues, feed our cells, and run our metabolism. If you don’t get enough protein through your diet, your body starts looking for it elsewhere – because it has to have protein to survive. So without any coming in, it starts breaking down your muscles to find it.
And just as carbsare broken down for energy, protein is used for energy. Carbs might be the fastest energy source, but PROTEIN IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE. Proteins give you long term, steady energy thats even more sustainable than the energy coming from complex carbs. Protein also curbs hunger cravings and keeps you feeling satisfied (at least in terms of hunger).
Proteins are in many foods, but don’t be fooled by the imposters! Often times, foods like beans and peanut butter claim to be a “good source of protein.” But actually, most of these foods contain less than 20% of their calories from proteins which actually make them a terrible source of protein. You can still eat these foods because they usually have many other health benefits, but don’t eat them just for the protein content. If that’s your goal – go for a some fish, steak or protein shake.
FATS always get a bad rap, but they’re definitely not bad for your fitness goals! Eating fat does not make you fat, so give fat a break! Let that sink in for a moment. Because “dietary fat causes body fat” is an idea (and a false one) that is so ingrained into our culture and leads way too many dieters down the wrong weight loss paths. Fats are necessary for fat loss. They help you absorb of vitamins and minerals, regulate your hormones, make tissues, protects your organs and membranes, and control your body temperatures. And they can be used as energy sources just like carbs and proteins. But the benefit of using fats for energy? They are the most concentrated source of energy. WITHOUT FAT, YOUR METABOLISM STALLS AND YOUR BODIES START BREAKING DOWN. So don’t avoid fat if your hunting for weight loss!
LET’S DIGEST ALL OF THAT
Macronutrients give your body energy. Carbohydrates give you the fastest energy, proteins the most efficient energy, and fat the most concentrated. And because each of these macros provide energy differently, we have to be aware of how much we eat of each.
When we eat macros in specific ratios, we prime our energy levels for maximum efficiency and turn our bodies into fat busting, muscle building, well oiled machine. So macro ratios are important.
BUT WHAT ABOUT CALORIES?
Whoever came up with the calorie in/calorie out idea of dieting sure did a lot of damage in the world of nutrition education! Sure the amount of food we take in does matter, but what matters more is the type of food we consume. Unfortunately, many people still follow those calorie-counting guidelines when trying to get in shape, but they’ll continue running in circles because calorie counting just doesn’t lead to lasting results. Sure, if you cut calories, you might see a quick drop in weight. But that’s only water weight and it’s not going to be a lasting change.
To stop the never ending cycle of calorie counting, you have to examine your macros instead.
BECAUSE MACROS RULE OUR HORMONES.
And our hormones rule our weight and fat stores. So to change your weight, you have to change your hormones. And you change your hormones through macros.
Because the different macros (remember, carbs, proteins, and fats) produce different levels of energy, they produce different hormone responses. And our hormones directly dictate how our metabolism runs – wether you’ll be burning fat or storing it for later.
So we know macros matter. We know the ratio of our macros impacts our ability to lose fat.
Just tell me what ratio I need to eat!
The answer: it depends.
IT DEPENDS ON YOUR BODY TYPE.
(Ahh not more information before I get some answers! We know! It is a lot to take in! But trust us, this is important!)
Many people in the fitness world don’t understand the connection between macros and body type. And if you don’t have them connected, you’ll just be spinning your wheels! Because the best macro ratios are different for different body types. So before we can explain your macro breakdown, you first need to understand your body! And no, we don’t mean you have to get up close and personal with every nook and crevice of yourself. What we mean is you have to understand your body type.
In the 1940s, this guy, William Sheldon, came up with a way to label different body types. Willie realized there were really only three types: ECTOMORPH, ENDOMORPH AND MESOMORPH. And since that time, those three body types have stuck in the literature.
What is Your Body Type?
ECTOMORPH: People who can eat the kitchen and still shrink in size. You are long and lean with the fastest metabolism. You could eat everything in sight and still not gain weight or mass. Everyone else looks at you with envy, wishing they could devour that entire pan of brownies too. But we know you struggle. You struggle to gain weight, put on muscle, and add a little booty to your –licious.
TYPICAL TRAITS OF AN ECTOMORPH:
- Small and delicate frame
- Long arms and legs
- Flat chest and small shoulders
- Thin with lean muscle mass
- Fast metabolism with a bottomless pit
- Classic “hard gainer” – weight gain is not easy
ENDOMORPH: People that look at donuts and gain weight.You have a soft and round body and no matter how much you run or how much you restrict your diet, you just seem to keep getting rounder. Your metabolism moves like molasses. When you lift weights, you gain muscles quickly, but you also gain fat at the same time! What the heck!
TYPICAL TRAITS OF AN ENDOMORPH:
- Soft and round physique
- Short and stocky build
- Naturally high levels of fat
- Slow metabolism and insulin sensitivity
- Challenges with losing fat
- Gains muscle or fat easily
MESOMORPH: People we love to hate
They have the natural build for athletics. Working out, fitness, and sports can come easy to them. They can gain weight or gain muscle quickly and easily.
TYPICAL TRAITS OF AN MESOMORPH:
- Naturally muscular with little effort
- Generally hard body
- Efficient metabolism
- Rectangular shaped body
Now not every person fits exactly into one of these body types. But knowing your general body type will still guide you to the macro ratio that will best set you up for success!
But you have to be honest with your body type. Training and eating for the body type you want rather than have will not get you results. We don’t get to wish away our genetics. If you don’t have the body type you want, it doesn’t mean you get to throw in the towel before this post is even over! It just means that you may need to train and eat differently than your fitness buddies.
Every person will see results at different speeds, so do not be discouraged if Runner Randy makes gains before you. Just keep focused and stick to the macros for your body type. Because you will make it there, quicker than you think.
So let’s get to the information you really came here for!
What macros should I be eating?
MACROS FOR YOUR BODY TYPE
FOR THE ENDOMORPH:
We know you have it rough. But we aren’t about to let you cry over your genetics just yet. You just have to be a bit more conscious of your nutritional intake than others.
Endomorphs require a macro ratio that limits the carbohydrate intake. Traditionally, ENDOS ARE HIGHLY SENSITIVE TO INSULIN. Insulin performs two functions in our body – 1. it stores fat and 2. it prevents fat from being broken down to a usable energy source. Insulin loves to protect those fat molecules and keep them in our body! Imagine insulin as the barrier wall to the Fort of Fat. The goal of insulin is to keep the barrier wall as tall and as strong as possible to keep those fat molecules safe and protected inside our body (where we don’t want them). The more our insulin levels increase, that higher that wall of protection for your fat stores! When your insulin levels are low, the height of those walls drop and our army of fat burners are able to break into the fort and take down some fat molecules!
THE GOAL OF THE MACRO RATIO FOR ENDOS is to keep the insulin levels low so your fat molecules can be attacked and your body can start trimming down! We keep our insulin levels low by limiting the amount of carbohydrates we eat (and choosing wisely when we do eat carbs). Because vegetables are carbs, we don’t want to completely eliminate carbs from our ratio. We just need to keep the carb levels low and working for us, rather than against us. To choose wisely, the large majority of the carb intake should come from colorful veggies and leafy greens!
So Endos keep carb intake low. But you also need a high fat ratio. Now a high fat diet can sound scary if you’re trying to lose fat, but that higher fat is good for so many reasons. Fat increases the production of testosterone in our bodies (a good thing for both men and women) and that higher level increases your muscle building. More muscles means more calorie burn, even when you aren’t in the gym training. Fat is also incredibly important for Endos because the fat decreases your natural insulin sensitivity. When you eat a high fat diet, you begin to tear down those insulin walls protecting that dang Fort o’ Fat. The more effective your macro diet, the more your body adapts to your new baseline nutritional intake and the more those insulin walls break down for good! And remember, fat is good because it’s the densest source of energy. When your fat to carb ratio is optimized, you effectively burn up your glucose stores and start relying on fat for energy. Because that fat is dense, you get sustained energy without high spikes or dips. And steady energy sounds like another good thing. Fat is a good for you! So embrace the high fat and add some bacon and butter to your meals, but know that some fats are better than others.
To simplify it: Moderate Protein, Low Carb and High Fat.
FOR THE ECTOMORPHS:
Ectomorphs are often told that in order to gain muscle or weight, they just need to eat more. But this is not always an option nor realistic. So instead of working harder to just eat more, it’s better to just eater smarter. The ratio of macros can become the most effective tool for building and maintaining muscle and is your smarter choice in putting on muscle.
I know this sounds counterintuitive, but for Ectos, MORE PROTEIN DOES NOT EQUAL MORE MUSCLE. I know that everything we read and hear tells us that to gain more muscle or add some curves, you need more protein. And that may be true for some people, but it is not true for you Ecto friends. Since your body is primed to burn, you only need a minimum amount of protein to maintain your muscles and prepare them for further growth. If you consume more protein than needed, your primed body will jump right on that extra protein to burn it. And protein burns a lot of calories when you digest it. So the more protein you eat, the more your body burns, and the harder it becomes to use that protein for any muscle development and the more food you need to eat to compensate for the additional burning. You essentially are wasting all of that extra protein you just ate (and purchased, let’s face it, meat is expensive). So if you eat excess protein with the goal of gaining, you may actually be working against yourself.
So let’s work smarter. Even though it seems counterintuitive, a ratio of high carbs and high fat is smarter eating for ectos. Instead of wasting protein by consuming more than your body is able to use, you only need a baseline amount of protein and the remainder of your intake should be high carb and high fat. For ectos, high carbs do not get converted to fat easily. SO YOU CAN MAINTAIN A HIGHER CARB DIET WITHOUT THE FEAR OF GAINING FAT.
Many ectomorphs also benefit from the high carb, high fat diet for other reasons. Some ectos have trouble “eating more” because they truly aren’t that hungry and feel there is no more room in their stomachs. Ectos can often be dopamine sensitive. Dopamine is the feel good hormone that tells us when we eat enough food to feel satisfied. For many overeaters, the dopamine can take awhile to kick in. But for ectos, you often get a dopamine release early into eating making you feel fuller, sooner. So your body naturally requires more calories because your metabolism is raving, but you get full immediately. That vicious cycle makes it hard to eat enough to meet your caloric needs. Protein is the nutrient that makes us feel the most full and satisfied. So by eating only a moderate amount of protein, we can limit the speed our dopamine is released. The high carb, high fat combination allows us to eat more calories without the uncomfortably full feeling. And fat packs more calories per gram, giving you more bang for your buck.
To simplify it: Low protein, high carb, moderate fat.
FOR THE MESOMORPHS:
Mesos have more freedom in their nutritional intake because of their insulin efficiency. So the ratio of carbs:fat:protein is relatively balanced. What is most important for my meso friends is to make conscious choices about what types of food you use to fill your macro ratios. Obviously a glazed donut will not impact the body in the same way a bowl of brown rice will. You must optimize your ratios by choose foods with high nutritional value. So although your ratio is flexible and fairly balanced between the nutrients, you’ll respond more effectively to the ratios when you choose healthier foods.
The simple meso plan: JUST BALANCE ALL THREE NUTRIENTS. Consuming slightly more carbs is generally good to provide energy to sustain your workouts (but we already learned that carbs aren’t necessary for energy). So let’s be honest, the slightly higher carb intake is for convenience and affordability. Just choose wisely!
To simplify it: Close to equal carbs, protein and fats.
Macros matter. Body type matters. When you align your macro ratio for your specific body, you’re sure to create a fat burning machine!
Super. You’ve got your macro ratios.
But are you a little confused on how you really put those numbers into a plan for your daily eating? You’re in luck! We created a cheat sheet for how to take your macro ratio and convert it into something practical.
By downloading this PDF, you have a handy instruction for converting your ratio into calories and grams. Then it’s as simple as pie to put into practice (although that probably doesn’t fit well into your macros).
Don’t forget, MACROS RULE!