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What are macros?

Posted November 25, 2018 by Rose Ann Chiurazzi, RDN, CDE Clinical Dietitian, Weight Management Summa Health


Paleo, keto, macros, carbs, complex carbs, clean eating, plant-based...we could keep going but I think you get the idea. With so many buzzwords out there, it can be difficult to analyze which ones would be a good addition to your weight loss journey or can help maintain a healthy lifestyle. Let’s explore one of these nutrition buzzwords: Macros.

Macros are short for macronutrients. These nutrients include protein, carbohydrates and fats and make up the caloric content of food.

Types of macronutrients:

  • Protein: Made up of organic compounds of amino acids (carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen or sulfur), protein is essential for muscle growth and development. Major sources of protein include meat and seafood but can also be found in legumes, grains, cheese, Greek yogurt, nuts and seeds.
  • Carbohydrates: All of the carbohydrates we consume are turned into glucose and are absorbed and used as energy. Not all carbs are bad and our body requires good ones to fuel our body. Carbs have three groups: sugars, starches and fiber. They can then be divided into two basic groups: simple carbs and complex carbs. You want to stick to complex and avoid simple. For a more detailed breakdown of carbohydrates, read Carbs: The Good, the Bad and the Yummy.
  • Fats: Contrary to what you may think, fats are important in our diet. Did you know, consuming certain fats can help you burn fat? They are called supportive fats and are something you should add to your diet for overall health; these include olives and avocados and their respective oils, nuts and seeds.

What is macro counting?

Sometimes when people embark on a weight loss journey or have been committed to a healthy lifestyle, they may ‘count calories.’  Macros simply breaks these calories into those three categories. Calories are not created equal and different metabolisms will process them differently. If you are a person who is no longer seeing results, evolve to counting your macronutrients, rather than just calories, to find out what macro combinations
might work better for your body. Here at the Summa Health Weight Management Institute the focus is more on the macros carbohydrate and protein.  Evenly distributing your macros may also help you control your blood sugar levels and help with hormonal imbalances.

How to I track or count my macros?

This is where it can get a little tricky. This is a very general guide to balancing your macros. If you are looking for a complex plan, one of our registered dietitians can help create an individualized lifestyle plan.

  1. First, establish your calorie intake.In general for weight loss, women are between 1200-1500 Calories; Men are between 1500-1800 Calories per day.
  2. From here, you can calculate how much of each macronutrient you need by using the guide below:
    1. Protein 20-30%
    2. Carbohydrates -30-40%
    3. Fats - 20-35%
  3. Your total calories for the day should add up to 100% so balance accordingly. 

A few extra tips:

  • Remember that for weight loss, Calories are not the best way to track your food intake.Rather it is about the quality of foods and portions of foods that is important
  • A well-balanced meal has a little of all macronutrients.
  • You should still aim for good, complex carbs, not just any carbohydrates.
  • You should plan to have lean proteins such as fish, chicken breast, or eggs
  • You should include healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, and avocado.
  • Sometimes life happens and you don’t have the time to plan out every meal. If you can't plan everything out, just aim for one portion of lean protein, a portion of veggies and complex carbs, plus a good fat.  

The Summa Health Weight Management Institute has been helping people lose weight since 2004. The Institute offers both surgical and non-surgical options for weight loss, including appointments with dietitians, obesity medicine physicians, psychologist, and surgeons. Depending upon the degree of your obesity and the level of knowledge you have regarding the options for addressing it, we can help you decide which of our weight loss options best fits your needs.


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