What are macronutrients?
Food is categorized into three macronutrients (macros): fat, protein and carbohydrates.
Examples of fat foods are meat fat, butter, coconut oil products, peanut oil, palm oil, chips, biscuits, cake, and full-fat dairy products. Pro Tip: aim to eat more unsaturated fats like fish, nuts, vegetable oils, and avocado. These are considered healthy fats.
The body uses protein for building and repairing muscle and tissue along with other important functions. Examples of protein are meat and meat products, eggs, beans, milk, yogurt, fish, and seafood.
Pasta, bread, and potatoes are carbs that immediately come to mind. Carbohydrates serve as our body’s main source of energy and fuel our brain. Also included are starchy vegetables like pumpkin or corn, fruits, sugar and honey.
What is the purpose of learning about macronutrients? Calorie counting, or consuming fewer calories, seems like the obvious approach to losing weight. However, the composition of macros can be the key player in qualifying what we eat. An imbalance in your diet of macros can lead to an increase in body fat percentage. Over-Consumption of carbohydrates is typically the smoking gun in weight gain. By knowing your macros, you can keep an eye on the content of your foods, and maintain balance.
Almost everything we ingest has a combination of these three macronutrients. Let’s take avocados for an example. This food is known for its composition of healthy fat. It consists of approximately 70% fat, 2% protein, and 8% carbohydrates. Apples, on the other hand, are made up of about 3% fat, 2% protein, and 95% carbohydrates. Since apples mostly consist of carbohydrates, this food would be classified as a carb. The complex and impressive mechanisms of the body have specific roles for each macronutrient essential to helping us energize, develop and grow.
What should my macros be?
The bombardment of macronutrient information online can leave your head spinning. One so-called expert recommends becoming vegan, another suggests an all-protein diet. How do you know where to start? Unfortunately, there are no one-size-fits-all. The ideal macronutrient ratio depends on your activity level and other individual factors. Some people may see better results on a low carb, high protein diet; whereas, others may experience their greatest energy on a high-fat diet.
This message is intended to teach you the basics that will put you in a position to better understand how activity level and nutrition affect your health. A lot of what is out there for nutrition is up for debate. A nutritionist is your best bet to clear up many myths about food choices.
Here are some examples of different macro ratios to consider implementing and see how your body responds:
Standard diet macros range:
Protein: 10-35% of calories
Carbs: 45-65% of calories
Fat: 20-35% of calories
Keto diet macros range:
Protein: 20-25% of calories
Carbs: 5-10% of calories
Fat: 70-75% of calories
Low-carb diet macros range:
Protein: 20-30% of calories
Carbs: 30-40% of calories
Fat: 30-40% of calories
Calculate macros for weight loss
Learning how to keep track of your macronutrients alone will have a positive impact on your overall health. As you become more aware of what you put into your body, you’ll be inclined to make healthier choices.
You can install an app to assist in calculating daily macros. Most foods with a bar code can be easily tracked. A macro focused diet is very customizable. This flexibility means you don’t have to worry about cutting any food groups. While keeping your favorite foods on hand, you’ll be encouraged to choose more wisely, fitting into your macronutrient goals. By investing some time, and basic navigation of food apps, you can have your cake and eat too.
It’s important to not only focus on a specific macronutrient ratio. For example, a ratio such a 40% carbs, 30% protein and 30% fats don’t inform us of the actual food quality. This ratio only considers the number of macronutrients, meaning quinoa and white sugar are treated the same way even though quinoa is much healthier for you than white sugar, but they’re both carbs. If you want to take ownership over your health and body, the best thing to do is to focus on balance, prioritizing whole foods, play with different macro ranges, and be mindful of portion sizes.
Below, you’ll find a link to healthy and delicious “Macro Bowls.” These recipes cover all the bases of a healthy macronutrient diet – a grain base with raw, or cooked veggies as your carbs, options to choose your adventure for protein, and avocado, hummus or a flavorful homemade dressing to cap off your healthy fats. Here are three of their 11 recipes that you can find on their website. The tough part, choosing which one to make first.