Hear the phrase ‘macros and micros’ and instantly think of that one person who only posts protein pancakes and meal prep on Instagram?
Believe it or not, these technical terms can be extremely beneficial for reaching those fitness and body composition goals you’ve had your eye on. Calculating the grams of each macro and micro takes calorie counting a step further, making you hyper aware of what and how much you are consuming to make more informed decisions on your nutrition. You don't always have to calculate this yourself, as there are plenty of apps that do it for you.
Nutrition is not a one size fits all, and if you want something that is more personal to you, then we highly recommend seeing a dietician!
To help with the information below, we asked Accredited Dietician Victoria Matkovic of Thrive Nutrition (@_thrive_nutrition) to give us a hand!
There are three different types of macros — carbohydrates, protein, and fats. All of which are necessities to functioning as a human being, and of course powering through your workouts.
Kicking it off with our first macro, we are looking at carbohydrates, which are the body’s first preferred fuel choice (followed by protein, then fats). Carbs fuel all functions of the body such as muscle contractions and biochemical reactions, giving the body insane amounts of energy. This is particularly helpful when you need to power through a training session.
Best of all, carbs can be found in some pretty delicious foods such as cereals, breads, pasta, potatoes, rice, oats, sugar and fruit. Ensuring that you’re incorporating these into your diet will get you well on your way to smashing your PB’s.
Moving on to marco number two, and we’re talking about good old protein! Probably the most used word in the world of lifting, it’s the macronutrient that’s responsible for repairing and building muscles. If you’re thinking of getting on board the gains train, you’ll need to give your body it’s protein needs. When consuming protein, it’s broken down into amino acids (a collection of different elements), and used to repair muscle damage as well as providing additional storage of protein within your muscles. What we are basically saying is, for both growth and recovery of muscles, you’ll be needing adequate protein in your diet.
Pairing your protein with active recovery is vital for your gains success. Read about the importance of recovery here.
Last, but certainly not least, we are talking about fats! There are a few reasons as to why fats are an essential part of a diet, particularly for their role in hormone regulation, insulation of organs and biochemical functions. There are also fats that the body cannot create, and rather needs from food.
Fats are our least preferred fuel source compared to carbs and protein. Fats are broken down into fatty acids, which involves an oxidation process that requires a lot of energy and oxygen.
However, if excess fat is consumed and is not needed within the body, it is stored as fat under the skin and around the organs. But don’t let that scare you, as long as you’re monitoring your intake, it is completely healthy to have some fat stored in our bodies.
That’s all for macros! To get the most out of your diet and achieve optimal health, you’ll also need to be getting the appropriate micronutrients too. Micros are made up of vitamins and minerals that are needed in smaller amounts within the body. Different foods contain different types and amounts of vitamins and minerals, all playing different roles in the body.
Vic has broken down the benefits of the most common micros below:
Super beneficial for supporting vision, particularly night vision, and bone growth. To top it off, it’s an antioxidant that supports the immune system too! Vitamin A can be found in eggs, fortified breakfast cereals, milk, and dark green vegetables.
Supports the growth of cells, and repairs the immune system of wounds and sickness. And to top it off, it’s also an antioxidant. Vitamin C is responsible for ensuring that you have as minimal sick days as possible so you can spend more time at the gym. You can find high amounts of the vitamin in citrus fruit, red/orange fruits, and vegetables, and dark leafy greens.
Vitamin B group and folate
Wanting more energy? Vitamin B is the micro for that! You can’t smash a PB without a tonne of energy, so making sure that you aren’t lacking is important. You can find it in breads, cereals, beans, meats, poultry, eggs and dairy foods.
Super important for bone health and muscle and blood vessel contractions. You can find it in dairy foods, fish with soft bones (e.g. sardines), dark leafy greens and calcium fortified foods like breakfast cereals and soymilk.
Every person that you speak to probably has a deficiency. But not you if you’re hitting your micros. Iron is found in blood and carries oxygen throughout our blood vessels, and this affects your workouts. The higher iron levels in your body, the better oxygen travels throughout your body. Include red meat, eggs, legumes, tofu and wholegrain cereals into your diet to make sure you’re getting enough iron so your head doesn’t spin when you sit up (and so you can smash your goals too).
Sodium is fundamental for both nerve and muscle functions, as well as fluid regulation. When you’re exercising, you sweat out a lot of sodium, meaning you gotta replace it within your diet in moderation. Sodium is found naturally in most foods but high amounts can be found in table salt, sauces, condiments, premade and processed foods.
Okay enough science.
As you can tell, both macros and micros play fundamental roles in assisting with muscle growth, your workouts, energy, and recovery. And while you don’t have to ‘hit your macros’ perfectly, all the time, every single day (unless your goals require you to), it’s a tool that you can use to keep you on the right track, and ensure that you are getting the nutrients that you need.
A big thank you to Victoria Matkovic from Thrive Nutrition (@_thrive_nutrition) for providing all this important information too!