Chapter 15: What are macros and why are they important

If you’ve spent any time looking up fat loss and fitness information in general, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve come across the term ‘macros’ and their optimal ratio for success on a keto diet.

In this episode, we’ll go over what macronutrients are, what the optimal ratio is and why you should track them if you want effective fat loss. Let’s go.

What are Macros?
Macros (also known as macronutrients) are the components that make up food, and we measure them in grams. Individual macronutrients have their specific caloric value per gram. Carbs and protein have four calories, and fats have nine calories per gram. 

Most foods out there contain a mixture of the three macronutrients, but some foods are made up of a single one. For example, olive oil is almost 100% fat.

On a typical diet, carbs are broken down by the body and used as the primary source of energy in the body in two main forms – readily available as blood glucose and stored in the liver and muscle in the form of glycogen.

Protein is of crucial importance for all living beings because it provides the body with the building blocks (amino acids) it needs to be healthy, repair itself, and grow. 

Of the three macronutrients, protein is also the most satiating one and has the highest thermic effect (it takes your body more energy to break it down into usable amino acids).

On a ketogenic diet, some of the protein you consume is converted to glucose thanks to a process called gluconeogenesis for use by the brain and other cells in the body.

As we covered above, fats are the most calorie-dense of the three macronutrients and are crucial for the health and well-being.
Fats are especially important on a ketogenic diet because once they are broken down in the liver, a by-product known as ketones is also produces. Ketones serve as the primary source of energy for the body in the absence of carbohydrates and getting enough fat to support energy requirement is crucial.

What is the Optimal Macronutrient Ratio on a Ketogenic Diet
First off, remember that limiting carb intake significantly is crucial if you want to stay in ketosis and use fat as the primary source of energy for the body. For that reason, you should consume roughly 5% of your daily calories from carbs.

Protein is very important, and you should get 15-30% of your daily calories from it. This will ensure that you get enough building blocks to support normal function and health. 
Fats are the most important macronutrient on a ketogenic diet for various reasons and should make up to 65-75% of your daily calorie intake.

Why You Should Track Macros For Effective Fat Loss
Fat loss is about efficiency, and there’s no better way to achieve that than to track macros. The reason is simple:

To lose fat effectively, you need to create a mild to moderate caloric deficit. This will allow your body to use the stored fat as energy and you will lose weight at a steady rate.

If the deficit is too severe, you run into the risk of losing too much muscle mass in the process because your body has a limit of how much fat it can oxidize for energy in a given day, week or month.

To maintain an optimal ratio between the macros and to ensure that the deficit is not too severe, you need to track macronutrients and adjust only if your fat loss stalls for more than two weeks.

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