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Strive Fitness Talk #33 - Macros & Micros

You hear people reference it all the time. “Watching my macros, counting my macros, need to check my micros” but what are they talking about? Do they know what they are talking about? Macros is short for macronutrients and Mircos is short for micronutrients. These are categories that some people in the fitness field use in reference to their diet. If you ever go to a nutrition expert or dietitian you will also most likely hear these terms.

Macronutrients are BIG nutrients like Carbohydrates (carbs), fat, protein, fiber and yes, water! Macros are measured in grams on nutrition labels and in the nutrition world.

Micronutrients are SMALL nutrients like your vitamins and minerals.

Most macros-based diets stick with the BIG three:

  • Carbohydrates which you can find in foods such as breads/grains, pastas, oats, starchy veg like corn and potatoes and some fruits.

Carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram. So for example: you eat a slice of white bread that is 66 kcal total and has 12 grams of carbs = 48 of your kcal come from carbs.

  • Fats which you can find in foods such as oils, nuts, avocados, cheese and fatty fish.

Fats have 9 calories per gram So for example: you eat a Hass Avocado that is 250 kcal and has a total of 23 grams of fat = 207 of your kcal come from fat. But about 77% of avocados are good fat

  • Protein which you can find in foods such as eggs, fish, lean meats (beef, lamb, pork etc), poultry (chicken, turkey, duck, etc) and tofu.

Protein has 4 calories per gram So for example: you eat an egg that is 78 kcal and has 6 grams of protein = 24 of your kcal come from protein

You can do this with everything you eat.

Micros are much smaller measured values in terms of nutrition and you often see them measured in milligrams or even micrograms on nutrition labels.

Micronutrients are in the foods you eat, especially fruits and vegetables. Most common on the back of our nutrition labels are:

  • Vitamin A

  • Vitamin C

  • Calcium

  • Iron

  • Calcium

  • Zinc

But there are many many more!

Most people wouldn’t use a micronutrient approach to dieting because it is rather difficult to measure and track compared to macros. So now that you know what the difference is between macros and micros and how they affect the overall kcal in an item, what now…..

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americas the recommendations for daily macro intake should be about:

  • 45% - 65% of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates

  • 20% - 35% of your daily calories should come from fat

  • 10% - 35% of your daily calories should come from protein

But depending on what your fitness and weight loss goals are this may change. Someone looking to build muscle would want a higher percentage of protein. Even your overall medical needs will affect these general recommendations, for example if you are a diabetic your doctor may suggest eating a lower percentage of carbohydrates.

Many popular diets use a macro-based approach, such as the keto diet, low fat diet, paleo diet. We all know the keto diet focuses on high fat and low carbohydrates. Oftentimes these diets don't limit your overall caloric intake, so you don’t have to do any calorie counting, but it restricts what types of food you can eat in hopes of helping you maintain a healthier diet.

It is important to note that there isn’t a lot of research specifically regarding macro diet and its effectiveness for weight loss, weight control, or glycemic index control. All of these diets have different approaches.

Remember to always talk to your doctor when considering any diet that drastically restricts or removes a macronutrient from your body, your body needs all of them in some form. Protein is used to repair and build muscles, fat is an energy reserve and protects vital organs, carbohydrates provide you with fuel during fueling the brain. Just because something worked for your friend doesn’t mean that exact same formula will work for you. A dietitian or nutritionist can work with you to help you find a good macro ratio to help you reach your goals. And lastly, don’t expect to see results overnight! No matter what approach you choose, give it a good 2-3 months to work. References:


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