What Are Macros?

What Are Macros?

Macronutrients – or macros in short – are energy-providing substances. There are three main ones: protein, carbs, and fat. 

There’s also a fourth macro, which is alcohol. However, this bad boy won’t get our attention right now. (This guide we wrote goes into more detail [link to alcohol fat loss article].) 

Why are macros important? There are various reasons, the first one being that how many macros you consume determines your calorie intake. 

That’s why macro intake plays a crucial role where body weight is concerned. After all, you gain weight if you consume more calories than you burn. And you lose weight if you consume fewer calories than you burn [1-3].

Here’s how many calories each macro contains:

– Protein: 4 calories per gram

– Carbs: 4 calories per gram

– Fat: 9 calories per gram

These three macros affect your body in different ways. That’s why certain macro ratios are better for reaching your fitness goals, be they building muscle, losing fat, gaining strength, or something else.

So, let’s cover the basics for each macronutrient first, and then we’ll delve into how you can set them up in the best possible way.


Protein is the main building block of your body. It helps with the formation of nearly every tissue, including your skin, tendons, bones, and, yes, your muscles too. 

In fact, the levels of protein storage and breakdown in your muscles determine whether they grow or shrink [4].

– If your body builds up more protein than it breaks down, you gain muscle. 

– If it breaks down more protein than it builds up, you lose muscle.

Therefore, protein is a crucial macronutrient when it comes to packing on muscle mass or, in the case of a weight loss plan, to preventing muscle loss.

Besides, protein is the most satiating macronutrient [5]. Consuming enough of it helps to keep your calorie intake under control and can thus aid fat loss [6].


There are three main forms of carbs. The first two are sugars and starches, which both get converted into glucose within your body. 

Glucose is your primary energy source during high-intensity exercises such as sprinting and lifting weights. That’s why eating enough carbs improves performance during such activities [7]. 

In other words, getting enough carbs helps your gym performance, which means you can provide maximum stimulation to your muscles.

The third type of carb is fibre. While humans cannot digest it, fibre does have other important functions, like feeding your gut bacteria. 

Besides, some type of fibre increase the feeling of fullness. That’s why getting enough of them aids calorie control and can help weight loss [8-10]. 


Dietary fat gets a lot of bad rap, but guess what? It’s actually essential for health and optimal performance.

For example, consuming enough fat is crucial for the production of various hormones that affect your figure, and it’s important for genes involved in growth and metabolism [11-12].

Besides, fat is an excellent energy source, especially during lower-duration exercises such as running, cycling, and swimming. Moreover, consuming healthy fats, omega 3s in particular, is important for insulin sensitivity [13]. 

The downside is that fat contains nine calories per gram. Obviously, foods high in fat can add many calories to your diet.

Do Macros Really Matter?

When it comes to the digits on your scale, the answer is no. If you consume the same number of calories, it doesn’t matter whether they come from protein, carbs, or fat [1-3].

However – and this is what’s often overlooked – your macro intake has a huge influence on where the changes in body weight come from.

In the case of weight gain, macros will determine whether it comes from body fat or muscle mass. In a weight loss scenario, they dictate whether you lose fat or muscle tissue.

For example, getting enough protein prevents muscle loss on a diet while a lack of it impairs muscle growth and causes muscle wasting [14-15].

That’s why it is important to optimise your macronutrient intake based on your goals and situation. The section that follows will tell you how.

The Optimal Macro Split

When setting up your macros, you have to do some homework beforehand. That is, you need to know how many calories to consume on a daily basis.

We won’t go into detail here because that’s an entire topic in itself, but this guide we wrote provides you with a step-by-step process [link nutrition guide].

Now, let’s see how you can set up your macros the right way.

Setting your protein intake

The most critical aspect of optimising your macros is having your protein intake in check.

As mentioned before, getting enough protein helps you build muscle or, in the case of slimming down, maintain muscle mass.

Besides, protein is the most satiating macronutrient so getting enough of it helps keep your calorie intake under control.

So here’s what to do:

Get between 1.8 and 2.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. Thus, if you weigh 75 kilos, consume between 135 and 203 grams. This comes to between 540 and 812 calories worth of protein a day.

Setting your carb and fat intake

Once you have your protein needs nailed down, your next step is working out your carb and fat ratio.

The reason we’ve grouped them together is because, looking at it from a fat loss and muscle building standpoint, the ratio between the two doesn’t influence your success much.

Besides, their optimal ratio depends on individual differences such as insulin sensitivity, lifestyle, and personal preferences.

So here’s what to do:

Don’t worry too much about the carb-fat ratio. Just focus on hitting your daily calorie and protein goal.

If you do that, simply eat in a way that best fits your situation and preferences, and this ratio will take care of itself. 

This means you will consume enough carbs to charge exercise performance, and your fat intake will be sufficient to fuel processes such as producing hormones involved in growth and metabolism.

That said, there are a few scenarios where either a higher fat or carb intake can be beneficial.

For example, more carbs can aid the performance of athletes. This is, however, only needed if you train a lot, as is the case with elite athletes.

A higher fat intake, on the other hand, can be helpful for those with impaired insulin sensitivity, as well as women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or oligomenorrhea (a less frequent menstrual cycle) [16-20].

Your Next Step

So, that cleared a lot of misconceptions, didn’t it? And you’ve also learned how to set up your macro intake to optimise your results, whether you aim to shed fat or build muscle.

But let’s not stop half-way. While setting up your macros is crucial, there are a few more steps you must take care if you want to progress at an optimal rate. (Don’t worry, they’re easy.)

We’ve outlined them all for you in our free nutrition setup blueprint. This step-by-step framework will take all your guesswork away. So, if you’re ready to mould your dream body, check it out here (no opt-in needed).


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