Are Macros Worth the Hype

Are Macros Worth the Hype



What are your Macros?  Identifying individualized macronutrient values is used clinically by dietitians for individualizing one’s energy needs. It can be used to aid in objectives like general healthy eating, weight loss, gaining lean body mass, or managing medical conditions.  Your personal goals will determine the method necessary to go about calculating.  It is important to note that macros are individualized, and they are produced using evidenced based calculations. The process for identifying one’s macronutrients can be inaccurate if attempted without guidance from a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, and can likely produce undesirable results, if any at all.  Since body composition is assembled directly from our diet, it is our responsibility to provide our body with the appropriate distribution of macronutrients to fuel our needs.

People consider adjusting their macronutrients for many different reasons including weight loss, weight gain, or managing medical conditions where metabolism is affected.  Macronutrients are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats found in foods that we eat every day. Therefore, it can be concluded that ultimately, yes, you are what you eat. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends maintaining a healthy diet that is comprised of all five food groups as well as including quality and variety within each, as this ensures general balance among macronutrients.  When one is looking to optimize their metabolism toward their own specific goals, it is first necessary to calculate the calories one requires daily using the Mifflin St Jeor equation. 

The Mifflin St Jeor equation is among the most reliable methods recognized by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for calculating energy needs and can be done by utilizing a handful of variables in a mathematical equation for either gender. Note that the body weight measurement is in kilograms, this is your body weight in pounds divided by 2.2. Resting energy expenditure (REE) is the energy your body requires daily before applying additional activity factor. The equation is as follows:

Males: REE = 10 x weight (kg) +6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) + 5.

Females: REE = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) – 161 

After identifying the value from this equation, you will know your estimated energy needs in calories. This number can change depending on your activity factor. As the activity factor increases, it can function to increase the number of calories necessary for an individual.  These values range from 1.2 (sedentary) -2.4 (strenuous or highly active).  This value would be multiplied times the value produced in the equation above. 

Now, it is possible to calculate macronutrient distribution.  Based on 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the US Dept of Health and Human Services establishes a balanced macronutrient distribution as follows: Protein= 10-35%, Carbohydrate= 45-65%, Fat=20-35%. Sometimes it might be desirable to increase protein intake whether it is related to illness or for muscle mass gain.  Note that protein needs are calculated as a minimum of 0.8 x wt (kg); this number can increase as well depending on the individual.  It is necessary to be cautious when increasing protein beyond recommendations as this can cause harmful effects to certain organs.   

When altering metabolism in any way, it is important to be guided by Registered Dietitian Nutritionist as these are vital nutrients and should not be estimated based on fad or trend. Accuracy of these numbers is imperative for maintaining health and aiding in prevention of chronic illness.    

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.


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