What Are Calories?
A calorie is a measurement of the energy we need to fuel our bodies. Chances are that you have counted calories before and you gave yourself a limited number of calories to consume each day. Your daily caloric benchmark was set and you did your best to reach it without coming up short or going over. While you may have reached your goal at first, it may not have lead to sustainable, feel-good-all-over results.
The reason is the simple calories in, calories out equation tells us that if you eat less calories than you burn you will drop weight. It’s true, but there’s more to our bodies than energy in and energy out. By eating the right kinds of calories you will not only get better results but you’ll also learn more about your nutrition, body, and mindset than you thought possible.
What Are Macros?
Macros are what calories are made of. The three macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, and they each serve a different and important role in your body. There are 4 calories in every gram of carbohydrate, 4 calories in every gram of protein and 9 calories in every gram of fat. Each of these macronutrients plays a specific role in your body.
Breaking Down Macros
Protein: Protein has the highest thermic effect of food, which means it uses the most energy to digest. It supports lean muscle retention when your goal is to lose body fat and promotes muscle growth when you’re trying to get stronger. Protein is made up of amino acids, which are essential for the building of muscle in the gym and the repairing of muscle on recovery days.
Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred source of energy. They are stored in your muscles as glycogen and eating carbs in the right proportion will keep your brain and muscles feeling strong and fresh. When training, carbs are the macronutrient that is most readily available for your body, and replenish your depleted glycogen stores after a hard workout.
Fats: Fats insulate your body, protect your vital organs and assist with brain functionality. Fats slow down the digestion of your food which helps with satiety and keeps you fuller, longer. The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are important because they support cardiovascular health, joint health and digestion. Be careful, though, because fats can be tempting and you can easily overdo it, especially when fats are hidden in already cooked food.
Counting calories are a great place to start, but you do have the option to look beyond just calories. Building muscle, having energy throughout the entire day, feeling fueled and strong for workouts, and finally getting rid of any anxiety or guilt around food are just a few of the many amazing things you can accomplish when you choose to watch what goes into your body.