Macronutrients play a major role in the health and fitness world, yet so many people are not really sure what they are and why they are so important. In this blog, I’m going to explain what they are and how they are easy to track in a food diary.
First of all, there are three groups that make up macronutrients which are protein, healthy fats and healthy carbs. Macronutrients are the main components of our diets and they perform essential roles in the human body. Of course our bodies need other nutrients also, like minerals and vitamins, but in much smaller quantities (these nutrients are referred to as micronutrients).
Our diets should consist of approximately 10 to 35 percent protein. This macronutrient is important because amino acids are the building blocks of protein and they are linked together in complex formations. There are actually 20 different amino acids and 9 of those are considered essential because our bodies cannot produce them naturally, which is why they need to be obtained through our diet. Complete proteins contain all 20 amino acids and these are found in animal products such as eggs, milk and meat.
Proteins are really important for our bodies because they build, maintain and even repair body tissue. This macronutrient is especially important for people who are physically active, fit and work out rigorously because their muscles are constantly in need of repair. Additionally, proteins also provide our bodies with the hormones and enzymes our bodies need to function properly and not to mention that it is a fantastic aid for the immune system! Yes, I know I go on about protein all the time but we really need to be aware of the importance it plays in our diet, especially as it fills us up ladies!!
There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to fat. It is amazing how many people fail to understand that fat is essential for maintaining a healthy body. It’s kind of ironic because most think that fat is bad or us. The truth is that our diet should consist of at least 20% of healthy fats (not the bad saturated fats). The trick is to consume more of the good fats and less of the bad fats. Saturated and trans fats should be avoided, instead, replace those “bad” fats with unsaturated and essential fatty acids such as omega 3 and omega 6. For instance, you can replace sweets and high fat meats with foods such as nuts, avocados and olive oil.
Healthy fats are important for our bodies because they provide protection. Healthy fats provides our bodies with the necessary insulation to maintain body temperatures and cushioning to protect our body organs. It also aid in maintaining cell membranes and promoting growth and development. Did you know that fat even plays a major role in the digestion of vitamins? This includes vitamins A, D, E and K which are fat soluble vitamins and actually need fat in order to be absorbed into our body. Pretty interesting right?!
Carbs is another food group that has many misconceptions, which we talked about in an earlier blog, especially when there are so many fad diets out there. Carbohydrates are important for our bodies because they provide our main source of energy. This is because carbs contain glucose (these are small, simple sugars that are broken down and enter the body as glucose) and glucose is essential for the body because our brain, heart and central nervous system needs it to function properly. For this reason, it is important to incorporate at least 45 to 65 percent in your daily diet.
Although carbs are found in lots of different foods, keep in mind that you should choose healthier forms of carbs such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and nuts instead of processed carbs such as sweet foods and excess sugar. Also, aim for carbs that are high in fibre such as whole grains and beans because fibre is healthy for digestion because it aids in expelling waste from our intestines and can even help lower cholesterol.
As you can see, the benefits are many. Proper nutrition is crucial for our health, growth and survival. Love your body and feed it with the right kinds of foods, the foods that provide the nutrients you need.
Most food diary apps will track macronutrients for you, what you need to decide is what kind of macro split you want. Your body doesn’t know 200 calories came from broccoli or chocolate cake. It just knows what the macros’ are. Also, not all macro splits are created equal – check out below:
This is why calorie counting on its own is not satisfactory. To count macros you need to know what your calorie intake needs to be and you should determine your macro ratios based on the outcomes. Otherwise, it will be really hard to reach them. Also, exercising will not have pay-offs – you can not exercise out a bad diet. Tracking macros will provide you with a better judgement of what you’re eating and adjust accordingly. If you want some help or want to explore this further let me know. Next week, we will look into macro splits a bit more…