Macros, or macronutrients, are the 3 basic components of everything we consume. Macros consist of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, the top secret fourth macro is alcohol, but in reality there is little to no nutritional value or benefit to consuming it so for the sake of this, we are going to ignore it.
Each macro is worth a certain amount of calories, when all of these macros are added up and accounted for it will equal the total caloric value of a certain food.
Math sucks, but these numbers are important. For one gram of protein, there are 4 calories, for one gram of carbohydrate there is 4 calories, for one gram of fat there are 9 calories. And just for the sake of completion, in one gram of alcohol there are 7 calories.
So knowing this, let’s apply it to some common foods to see the macro and calorie breakdown.
4 ounces of boneless skinless chicken breast contains 23 grams of protein, 2.5 grams of fat and no carbs. Using math we can calculate that 4 oz of chicken breast equals 115 calories. Next, let’s take a look at rice, for 100 grams of uncooked jasmine rice, well measure it uncooked because the amount of water we use to cook it will change how heavy the cooked rice will become, contains 80 grams of carbs, 1 g of fat and 7 grams of protein. This gives our 100 grams of raw jasmine rice a caloric value of 365 calories. Next, 4 oz of raw broccoli has 8 grams of carbs, 0.4 grams of fat and 3.2 grams of protein for a total of 38 calories. You may have noticed the trend that these are all considered “clean foods”, so let’s look at something considered junk food. The Big Mac, with an average weight of 209 grams, contains 45 grams of carbs, 28 grams of fat and 24 grams of protein, this gives us a total of 520 total calories.
Knowing all of this, let’s do a little more math, we know that the Big Mac, weighing in at 209 grams on average contains 520 calories, but what about the other foods? Assuming we cooked jasmine rice perfectly according to the instructions, 100 grams of raw jasmine rice equates to 250 grams of cooked jasmine rice, additionally the 4 oz of broccoli and chicken equate to 225 grams. This gives us 475 grams of food or just over 1 pound, all of which is only worth 518 calories. This means that for double the amount of food volume we get the same amount of calories from one Big Mac.
This is why macro nutrients and smart food choices can make or break a diet. We can clearly see that if we were to eat the chicken broccoli and rice, we consume the same amount of calories as the Big Mac, but we are eating double the amount of food keeping us feeling fuller for a lot longer, not to mention all of the vitamins and minerals we gain from the minimally processed food.
So now we know that each food has a certain number of macros associated with it making up its nutritional value, what does this mean? How can we use this to our advantage? The next blog post will answer these questions.