Macros, You Say?

Back in 2012, acting on a suggestion from my husband, I tried a Crossfit class. It took me less than a week to get hooked. The combination of endurance, gymnastics, and lifting–along with the camaraderie between the athletes and coaches–was everything a regular gym wasn’t. In four years, I made a lot of progress when it comes to developing some pretty amazing skills. I’m now able to climb rope and do pull ups, complex Olympic lifting movements, and handstands. I also gained a few extra pounds. The added weight overwhelmed my tiny 5’2” frame, and despite having built some muscles, my arms and stomach looked less than defined.

One day, I met one of the Crossfit coaches who I hadn’t seen in a few months. Although she was always very strong, she now looked more ripped and toned. When I asked what her secret was, she uttered one word: macros.

Macronutrients, or macros for short, refer to the three main groups of foods that our body needs to function properly: proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Each one has its own role and it’s found in almost every piece of food. Proteins are essential for muscle and cell repair as well as growth and can be found in lean meats, beans, and quinoa. Carbohydrates, which you can get from fruits and veggies, provide energy. Fats help with the maintenance of cellular membranes and also provide energy. Good fats include avocado, olive oil, and nuts.

Based on your activity level and your body type, eating the right amount of calories with the appropriate macros ratio can lead to fat loss, muscle building, or even maintaining your current weight. Broadly speaking, for bodybuilding, your caloric intake should be made up of 40-60% carbs, 25-35% protein and 15-25% fat. For fat loss, the protein ratio should be 40-50%, with 30-40% coming from fats and 10-30% from carbs. For maintenance, you can keep each macro at around 33%.

It’s been over a year since I started doing the macro diet, and even with a cheat meal here and there, I’ve been able to lose fat while maintaining muscle, energy, and strength. Since this diet is all about what you’re eating and in what quantity, a food scale and an app like My Fitness Pal help keep track of your numbers. Bear in mind that this diet requires preparation and planning, as you should know what you will be eating at least a day in advance. With a bit of organization, discipline, and patience, anyone can follow this diet and start seeing results even within the first two weeks.