A “macro” is a nutrition slang term for macronutrients- proteins, fats, or carbohydrates (aka carbs).

These are what I could describe as the foundations of the foods you eat. Everything you put into your mouth food wise is made up of  either protein, carbs, or fats, or a combination of.

For instance- a steak is primarily a protein with some fat in it. Olive oil is just fat. An orange is primarily a carbohydrate with a negligible amount of protein in it.

A super cool way to learn what makes up the different foods you eat is to track for a week using an app like MyFitnessPal– it will break down all your foods for you, and you can see what they’re made up of.

Our bodies require all of these macronutrients to exist, and they require them at minimum levels.

If you were to not get enough protein, your body could not repair your muscles- and remember- your heart is a muscle!

If you were to not get enough fats, your body would not be able to store some micronutrients (think vitamins and minerals) as well as protect your organs or insulate your core against the temperatures.

If you were deprived of carbohydrates, your body will lack the energy it needs to do things like move and think (carbs are the one macronutrient you can go without on a short-term basis).  

You may have heard the term “setting your macros” from a nutrition coach or friend trying to change how they eat to hit physique goals or get stronger.

This term refers to creating a specific intake of carbs, fats, and protein. Each macronutrient per gram has a specific calorie number attached to it- as an example one gram of protein is equal to 4 calories.

When I set someone’s caloric intake for them (the calories they consume daily), I first determine how many calories they need, then I break those calories down into how many grams of each macronutrient I want them to get (like if you need 2000 calories in a day, I could break that down into 200 grams of carbohydrates, 150 grams of protein, and 66 grams of fat).

Individuals vary on their ratio and requirements of macronutrients.

Some people do well on lots of protein, minimal carbs, and lots of fat. Others do very well on eating lots of carbohydrates.

It all depends on things like activity level, age, gender, and often genetics. If you are a professional athlete, then you will be eating lots of carbs and lots of protein. If you’re working on losing excess body fat, you might be eating a higher protein diet and less carbs.

Understanding what makes up the food you eat is the first step in understanding how best to fuel your body.

I like my clients to track their intake either using an app or a journal to get an idea of how they feel each day based on what they are eating. From there you can make adjustments to learn exactly how you should be eating for your goals in life!

I have calculators on my website (you can access them here) which will help you determine how many calories you should be getting in a day, and how to break those calories down into each macro.

I generally recommend clients start at 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat. If you are trying to lose weight, enter your goal weight in the calculator and aim to hit that number every day.

Would you like help with your nutrition? I’ve created a monthly nutrition coaching subscription for people seeking general advice, community, and support. In addition to helping create meal plans and a healthy diet, I also post daily workouts, recipes, regular advice on getting a good nights sleep, how to manage food cravings, and how to live the healthiest life possible while still having a good time!

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Shawna Norton

Shawna Norton

My mission is to help everyone I can become the healthiest, strongest versions of themselves. I am a Crossfit coach, athlete, Health and Nutrition coach, Movement Rehab Specialist, and a grad student completing my masters in Kinesiology with a focus on integrative wellness.

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