You've probably heard someone say that you have to “calculate your macros” if you want to achieve your goals. What is the importance of calculating its macronutrients, within the framework of a sports practice? Nutrimuscle explains why it is important to quantify your nutritional intake and how to achieve this.
Macronutrients are molecules represented by proteins, carbohydrates and lipids. They are not to be confused with the micronutrients found in the form of vitamins, fibers and minerals.
It is essential to know the different groups of macronutrients and their functions in order to adapt the quantities according to your objective.
Proteins are the building blocks of our muscle tissue. They are responsible for their development and repair. An athlete is encouraged to eat more protein to speed up the development of muscle mass and the recovery process. Proteins are also at the origin of biological processes, such as the detoxification of the body, the production of enzymes, hormones and the strengthening of immune defences.
Protein is found in meat, eggs, fish, quinoa, soy, legumes and dairy products.
One gram of protein provides 4 kcal.
Carbohydrates, or carbohydrates, are the main source of energy used by the body. Carbohydrates break down into glucose to be used during exercise, or into glycogen which is stored in the muscles and in the liver, in the event of a later need.
Carbohydrates include sugars, fibers and starches. Carbohydrates are found in bread, pasta, fruit, cereals, legumes. To preserve digestive health, it is better to favor sources of complete carbohydrates, with a low glycemic index. In this way it is possible to control the secretion of insulin, the hormone responsible for fat storage and weight gain.
Lipids are the fats responsible for hormone production, immune defences, nutrient absorption and proper brain function.
We find lipids in oily fish, avocado, oils, or even nuts. It is preferable to turn to sources of lipids rich in omega-3, such as dried fruits or fatty fish in order to take advantage of their benefits.
Also a source of energy, lipids are twice as caloric as carbohydrates or proteins. One gram of fat equals 9 calories.
Why calculate macros?
Defining your sporting goals implies an adapted program, both in terms of sport and food. Indeed, the body needs an energy supply to be able to function.
Depending on the objectives (weight loss, mass gain), the energy needs and the distribution of macronutrients will be different.
In the context of weight loss, you can define a calorie-deficient nutritional plan. Conversely, for mass gain, it will be advisable to consume more than your daily caloric needs. During the dry, proteins will be preferred in the majority in the distribution of macronutrients.
There are many calculators online that allow you to calculate your macronutrients. However, they are very approximate. All bodies are different and needs are based on many parameters. The calculators take an average of energy needs (2000 kcal for men, 1600 kcal for women), so the result of the calculation gives an average. The result can be specified by adding height, weight, age and level of physical activity.
Nevertheless, there are databases to calculate the caloric intake of meals. Among the applications easy to use, there is MyFitnessPal or FatSecret. They allow you to quickly calculate the calories consumed according to a large choice of foods.
Define your needs: calculate your basal metabolic rate (MB)
Basal metabolic rate (MB) depends on several factors as mentioned above: age, sex, height, weight. It represents the calorie needs that the body needs daily to ensure vital functions at rest.
There are several formulas to know your daily caloric needs:
For men: 10 x weight (in kg) + 6.25 x height (in cm) – 5 x age (in years) + 5
For women: 10 x weight (in kg) + 6.25 x height (in cm) – 5 x age (in years) - 161
For men: 13.707 x weight (kg) + 492.3 x height (m) – 6.673 x age (in years) + 77.607
For women: 9.740 x weight (kg) + 172.9 x height (m) - 4.7373 x age (in years) + 667.051
Calculate your daily energy needs (BEJ)
Daily energy requirements include metabolism and activity level. In other words, it is this value that indicates precisely the number of calories you need, depending on your lifestyle. Simply multiply the value of the basal metabolic rate (MB) according to his level of physical activity:
- Sedentary: x 1, 2
- Light physical activity: x 1.375
- Moderate to vigorous physical activity: x 1.64
- Intensive physical activity: x 1.9
Calculate your macronutrients
Thanks to the calculation of the basal metabolic rate (MB) and the daily energy requirements (BEJ), it is now possible to calculate its macronutrients according to the determined objective.
The amount of protein
Proteins must represent at least 15% of the daily diet. This rate varies according to weight gain or weight loss.
A sedentary person needs 0.8 to 1g of protein per kg of body weight.
For a strength athlete, it is recommended to consume 1.6g of protein per kg of body weight.
For an endurance athlete, it is advisable to consume 2g of protein per kg of body weight.
The amount of lipids
It is recommended to consume 1 gram of fat per kg of body weight. Sources of unsaturated fats should be favored (nuts, fatty fish, etc.).
The amount of carbohydrates
Carbohydrates complement the rest of the diet. Its rate will be higher in the context of mass gain or lower in the context of weight loss. It is recommended to turn to low glycemic index carbohydrate sources, as mentioned above (legumes, whole grains). Insulin secretion will be less important and will guarantee a better effect of satiety.