What are macronutrients and how to calculate them properly?

que son macronutrientes

One of the many terms born from nutrition and that today occupy a place within the growing world of fitness is the word macronutrients .

We see phrases like “macro content” or “how to cover your macros” quite frequently on social media.

There is even an entire meal planning methodology dedicated exclusively to calculating macronutrients, known as if it fits your macros (IIFYM) .

However, these concepts could be quite complex for most people who are just starting out in this world of good nutrition. And in the end, you don't know what macronutrients are.

For this reason, in this video I want to help you understand in a simple and practical way:

What are macronutrients and how to calculate them ?

Macronutrients (or simply “macros”) is the name given to carbohydrates, proteins and fats together.

This is because they supply most of the energy for our body, unlike micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals, which are needed in small quantities and do not provide energy.

1. Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are compounds made up of carbon (C), hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O) molecules, which is why they are often abbreviated “CHO”.

They are found in a huge variety of foods such as cereals, tubers, roots, grains, fruits and vegetables, as well as milk and yogurt.

Most of the carbohydrates you consume are stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver. Another small part travels freely through the blood in the form of glucose.

Because muscle glycogen is the main source of fuel for exercise, the total amount of carbohydrates you need will depend on your level of daily physical activity.

But is there a way to calculate this amount?

Current recommendations for the intake of each macronutrient are expressed in grams per kg of body weight (g/kg).

In this sense, the amount of CHO necessary for a physically active person can vary between 2 and 5g for each kg of weight. That is, between 100 and 250g of carbohydrates for a 50kg person.

However, in some cases this amount may be less than 2 g/Kg (such as in obese patients) or greater than 5 (such as in high-performance athletes).

In fact, some triathletes may need between 8 and 10 g/Kg. That's a lot of carbs!

2. Proteins

While carbohydrates and fats provide the greatest source of energy for training, proteins , on the contrary, have a tissue-forming and repairing function.

They are made up of small structures called amino acids, and we can find them mainly in foods of animal origin such as meat, chicken, fish, dairy products, eggs and some foods of plant origin such as soy.

Adequate protein consumption is crucial to maximize muscle formation in response to daily training.

In general, the recommended daily protein intake for a physically active person ranges between 1.4 and 2.0 g/kg, that is, between 60 and 100 g for a 50 kg person.

If you do aerobic physical exercises such as jogging or cycling, your intake may be around 1.4-1.6 g/Kg; If you do intermittent sports like tennis or soccer, you can manage between 1.6 and 1.8 g/Kg; and if you do strength training with weights or machines, you may need up to 2g/Kg.

If your protein needs are not adequately covered, your body will have to resort to its reserves to repair and form new tissues, which will lead to a loss of muscle mass in the long term.

3. Fats

Fats and oils provide us with essential fatty acids necessary for the proper functioning of our body, they give flavor to foods and are a dense source of calories that can help you meet your daily energy requirement.

Similar to other nutrients, we can obtain fats from foods of both animal and plant origin (meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, eggs, butter, avocado, nuts and vegetable oils) and our body can even manufacture them from of other non-fat molecules such as carbohydrates or proteins.

Usually, the recommended fat intake can be between 1.0 and 1.5 g/Kg, although if you are looking to lose body fat, it may be a good strategy to stay below 1.0 g/Kg.

On the other hand, keep in mind that if you consume a higher amount of carbohydrates or proteins than you need, the excess will become fat and will be stored in your adipose tissue, that fat that we all have under the skin, to later be used. as energy.

Transforming macros into foods

Now that you know the basics of what macronutrients are and how to calculate the amount of carbohydrates, proteins and fats you need, all that remains is to transform these amounts into food.

To do this, there are some pages on the Internet such as myfitnesspal.com or calorieking.com , which can help you know the calories and macronutrients contained in each food.

At the end of the day, the amount of macronutrients is just one of many factors to consider when designing an individualized eating plan, along with micronutrient intake, food combinations, meal distribution throughout the day, and many others. .

Therefore, my recommendation is that you go to a nutritionist who can do this work for you, so that you can relax and dedicate yourself to enjoying the results.

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