How much food you eat matters, even if it’s all good, wholesome food. With food quality and quantity finely tuned you can move every quantifiable health and fitness marker in the right direction.
What to measure
When measuring food quantity we categorise food into macronutrient groups. Macronutrients (macros) are nutrients that provide calories or energy. Nutrients are substances needed for growth, metabolism, rebuilding and all basic body functions. There are three macronutrients that all food categorised as:
- Carbohydrates (CHO)
- Protein (PRO)
While each of these macronutrients provides calories, the amount of calories that each one provides varies.
- Carbohydrate provides 4 calories per gram.
- Protein provides 4 calories per gram.
- Fat provides 9 calories per gram.
This means that if you looked at the Nutrition Facts label of a product and it said 12 grams of carbohydrate, 0 grams of fat, and 0 grams of protein per serving, you would know that this food has about 48 calories per serving (12 grams carbohydrate multiplied by 4 calories for each gram of carbohydrate = 48 calories).
Besides carbohydrate, protein, and fat the only other substance that provides calories is alcohol. Alcohol provides 7 calories per gram. Alcohol, however, is not a macronutrient because we do not need it for survival.
Therefore, when measuring food quantities we measure the amount of CHO, PRO and fat you need to eat.
What are the measurements based on?
There are LOADS of different methods out there to calculate your macronutrient portions. In order to ensure that the amounts are specific to you, we use two important numbers.
- Lean Body Mass (LBM)
Your LBM is simply your bodyweight minus the amount of body fat you have (LBM – body fat). It includes muscle, soft tissue, organs, skin, water and everything else in between! We need to get rid of unwanted body fat and keep levels healthy, whereas LBM constantly needs fuel for growth and regeneration. That fuel comes from food.
- Activity Levels
You need food to fuel your activity levels and to give you the nutrients needed to recover from exercise. How much and the type of training you do affects how much as well as the relative proportion of each macro you need.
By creating an activity factor, this gives us two quantifiable numbers that are plugged into an equation to calculate your exact amount of macronutrient intake. If your LBM and activity levels change, so will your macronutrient intake.
Try out our Free Macro Calculator to see your macronutrient requirements
THE biggest problem with many people macros is thinking that “As long as my macros are correct I can eat anything.” If you do that you don’t consume enough micronutrients (minerals and vitamins) so while your quantities might be okay, your health begins to diminish.
Approach food as the body’s fuel source and as a form of enjoyment and you’ll develop lifelong, healthy habits.