Wondering what on earth a macro is? Macronutrients are three factors that are required as essential nutrients for our bodies. These nutrients provide us with calories, or energy. Each macronutrient has specific effects on the body and are required for growth, metabolism and other bodily functions. Most foods contain all three macronutrients but will generally have one more nutrient dense element. For example, an avocado is majority fat, but does contain some energy from carbohydrates and protein. Some foods however, may contain just one dominant element and not any other. For instance, honey, is purely a carbohydrate with no grams or traces of fat or protein. Macronutrient counting, is known as flexible dieting – this method means that you can hoose what foods you want to eat, whilst staying within a certain range or target of each of the macros (protein, fats and carbs).
What is Protein?
In the simplest of terms, protein is the nutrient needed to ‘build’ the body. It is essential for a variety of bodily functions and tissues. Connective tissues, enzymes, muscles, skin, hair, nails and bones are constructed from protein. As you delve a little deeper into understanding protein, the importance of “protein synthesis” (the creation of protein molecules) becomes more evident when wanting to either lose weight or gain muscle mass. The amount of grams per day required of protein for each individual, differs according to their personal, environmental and occupational factors.
What are Carbohydrates?
To understand carbohydrates, we must acknowledge that they are the main source of energy for our bodies. They are stored in the muscles and in the liver, and are later used as our energy source. Carbohydrates come in many forms. However, the difference between each carb is the rate of which they are absorbed and digested from your stomach into your bloodstream. This is known as a glycemic rate (or index). On a scale of 1 – 100, the lower the food on the glycemic index, the slower it is absorbed into the blood stream. For example, a sweet potoatoe has a glycemix index of 46 and has approximately 40gm of carbohydrates per 200gm serve. However, a serving of jelly beans (around 28 jelly beans) also equates to 40gm of carbohydrates but has a GI of 78. As we try not to think of “good” or “bad” foods and focus on food as fuel, it is to acknowledge that foods that are higher in GI are best had after intense training sessions, to help replenish glycogen stores quickly.
What are Fats?
Fats in our diet are necessary for hormonal production, promoting growth, repair and maintenance of cellular functions, protecting organs, maintain cell membranes and absorbing essential nutrients. The amount of fat required per individual differs dependent on the personal, environmental and occupational factors.
As well as macronutrient requirements, our bodies need essential micronutrients for optimal health and bodily functions. These are things like iron, magnesium and vitamins. Without over complicating things, it is best to always stick to eating nutrient dense foods and eating the recommended 1-2 serves of fruit per day, and 2-3 servings of vegetables, to help increase micronutrient ratios.
Fibre is also an essential part of optimizing out health. Especially when it comes to things like gut health and digestion. It is a type of carbohydrate, but it is doesn’t digest like one. High fibourous foods should be consumed daily in order to promote good digestion. It is recommended that fibre intake is no less than 20gm per day.