Macronutrients 101 – Protein, Carbs, and Fat

macronutrients bodybuilding

Whether you’re trying to lose fat or gain muscle you’ll need to know what calories and macronutrients are, and how to balance them for your goals. Macronutrients are the compounds which provide us with energy.

There are three types of macronutrients which are focused on: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. You have seen these names on the back of all nutrition labels, which also show the total calorie count. The basic caloric make up of protein and carbohydrates is 4 calories per gram, where fat is 9 calories per gram.

So, if a small chocolate bar has 18 grams of fat and 20 grams of carbohydrates, that’s (18×8) 144 calories from fat, and (20×4)80 calories from carbohydrates, for a total of 244. Although there is a difference between the types of fats (saturated, polyunsaturated etc) and different types of carbohydrates(complex, simple), this will cover the overall topic of macronutrients.
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Protein

1 gram of protein = 4 calories

protein macrosProtein is the primary building block of muscle made up of amino-acids. Since our bodies can’t make all of these amino acids, the essential amino acids have to be supplied through your diet and nutrition. Protein helps for muscle growth, tissue repair, and immune function.

It’s the most popular macronutrient for a reason; it’s metabolic and the most muscle sparing macronutrient. High protein sources include meat, fish, milk, eggs and of course whey protein.

For a muscle building diets, a high protein diet is a must. A high protein diet will allow your body to be in a constant metabolic state where it’s able to repair and rebuild muscle tissue throughout the day.

Not having enough protein in your diet will only lead to sore muscles and very little to no progress in terms of strength, size, and overall progress. For bodybuilding and gaining muscle, it’s recommended to have 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. It’s that much easier when you just supplement with whey protein into your diet.
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Carbohydrates

1 gram of carbs = 4 calories

carb macrosThe biggest myth was carbohydrates is that they make you fat. Carbs are the main source of fuel for our bodies, great for both short term and long term energy. There are exceptions, such as ketosis, where the body uses fat as a fuel source, but that’s not optimal for the long term. There are so many varieties of foods with (complex) carbs perfect for any diet, such as whole wheat pasta, whole wheat rice, and general whole wheat grains.

Carbohydrates are just as, if not more important than protein in bodybuilding and fitness. Carbohydrates are the fuel that give you energy for your workout, as well as making sure you have enough energy after your workout. As discussed in proper post workout nutrition, just having protein without carbs post workout will lead to your body using protein as its main energy source. Basically, it’s a waste of protein.
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Fat

1 gram of fat = 9 calories

fat macrosPeople often fear fats, and think it’s bad for you or make you fat. That’s simply not true. There are diets focused on fat loss, such as the keto diet, which are primarily focused on fat and protein without carbs. A low fat diet is not the solution, as reported by this Harvard study.

Fat is a major source of energy, and actually the most concentrated source of energy. Fat regulates hormone production, as well as absorbing fat soluble vitamins which are required to maintain good health. Fats also help normal growth and development, as well as testostorone.

Fat does not make you fat; eating over your daily caloric maintenance is what makes you fat. Some good fat sources are nuts, peanut butter, and cheese, but be careful as the total calories for fats do add up higher than you realize.

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