Understanding Macros

Understanding Macros

Have you ever thought “What are “Macros” and why is it important for me to understand them?”

Maybe you’ve heard people talking about “Macros” but aren’t really sure what all the buzz is about. Or maybe you have embraced the Macro concept and are looking to expand your knowledge and understanding of the plan. We’re hear to provide you with some basics about “Macros”.

First – what ARE “Macros”?

Macros is short for macronutrients – which are carbohydrates, protein, and fats. These are the nutrients from which we get our energy, and they each provide some specific benefits.

For example, carbohydrates provide your brain and muscles their primary source of energy. This is the major reason why you shouldn’t cut carbs completely out of your diet. Fats, in addition to providing energy, help insulate the body and support healthy hormone balance. And with protein, we know it’s vital for building muscles, but it also supports enzyme production and your immune system as well as aiding in nutrient transport throughout the body. So you can see they all are important, however selecting the most nutritious food in each Macro category and determining your individual needs are key when it comes making your selection.


Carbohydrates are classified into 2 categories – simple carbs and complex carbs. Simple carbohydrates, like those found in table sugar, honey, candy, cookies, white flour, break down and digest very quickly and have the ability to cause spikes and drops in your body’s blood sugar levels. This can negatively affect your energy levels.

Complex carbohydrates, those found in things like WHOLE grains, non-starchy vegetables, some starchy vegetables (yams, pumpkin, butternut or winter squash), beans and legumes, break down at a slower rate than simple carbs thus entering your blood stream slower, helping to slow blood sugar spikes and drops, and will help you stay fuller longer. Additionally, some of the fiber in complex carbs (the insoluble fiber) doesn’t digest and helps “move thing along” in the digestive track.

Fruits are excellent sources of nutrients, containing a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients, however they can be both simple and complex forms of carbohydrates. Select fruits where you can eat the skin (for fiber) like apples, pears, peaches, berries, etc.


Comprised of components known as amino acids, protein is broken down into those amino acids known as essential (we must consume them) and non-essential (the body can synthesize them from the essential amino acids). Animal proteins are considered complete proteins. If you are following a plant based diet it is important to consume “complementary proteins” that together give you the complete amino acid profile. The amount of protein you need every day will depend on your activity level and age. There are many helpful tools today to guide you through how to determine your individual needs.


There is a misconception that eating fats will make you fat, which is not true. Consuming too many calories is the primary cause of weight gain. Fats are categorized as “good fats” (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) and “bad fats” (saturated and hydrogenated or trans fats). Fats are higher in calories per gram than carbohydrates and protein, however fats are still an important macronutrient that should be part of your healthy diet.

Good Fats

Monounsaturated fats include things like avocados and avocado oil, olives and olive oil, sunflower oil, cashews, almonds, and pistachios. These fats have been shown to support healthy cholesterol levels. Polyunsaturated fats are found in things like soy beans, walnuts, tuna, salmon, sardines, flax seeds and chia seeds. Polyunsaturated fats contain both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.

Bad Fats

Saturated fats, found in animal foods, butter, baked goods, palm oil, when consumed in excess can be a contributing factor to many health concerns. It is best to consume as little saturated fat as possible. Trans fats and hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats (found in margarine, shortening, processed foods) should be limited or avoided if at all possible.

Take time to review your “Macro” consumption and adjust accordingly to meet your individual needs.

Remember to always consult your health care provider before making any diet or exercise changes.

Back to blog