Are Macros Worth the Hype?

Author Amelia Noel

What are macros? Macronutrients are proteins, carbohydrates and fats found in the foods we eat every day – so, ultimately, yes, you are what you eat. To provide your body with the sustenance it needs, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends maintaining a healthy diet comprised of all five food groups as well as including quality and variety within each to ensure a balance of macronutrients.

From maintaining a healthy weight to gaining lean body mass to managing certain medical conditions, people consider adjusting their macronutrients for a variety of reasons. Identifying your macronutrient values help dietitians provide individualized support, and your particular goals determine the method necessary to go about calculating those demands. It’s important to note that macros are personalized and produced using evidenced-based calculations. Without guidance from a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, identifying your own macronutrients may produce inaccurate and undesirable results. If you’re ready to take the first step, you need to calculate the number of calories you require 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. Note that the body weight measurements are 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’ll 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) to 2.4 (strenuous or highly active). This value would be multiplied with the value produced in the equation above.

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

When altering your metabolism in any way, it’s important to follow the guidance of a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist as these are vital nutrients and shouldn’t be estimated. The accuracy of these numbers is imperative for maintaining good health and aiding in prevention of chronic illness.

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