WHAT ARE MACROS? MACRONUTRIENTS?
- Nutrients that provide calories/energy.
- Needed for growth, metabolism & for other bodily functions.
- Since “macro” means large, macronutrients are nutrients needed in large amounts.
There are three macronutrients:
The amount of calories that each macronutrient provides varies:
- Protein provides 4 calories per gram.
- Carbohydrate provides 4 calories per gram.
- Fat provides 9 calories per gram.
Besides protein, carbohydrate & fat the only other substance that provides calories is alcohol. Alcohol offers 7 calories per gram, however, is not a macronutrient because we do not need it for survival.
Aim for roughly 1-1.2g of protein per lb of body weight. The leaner you are/ more muscle mass you have, the more important protein becomes.
Why do we need it?
- Growth & repair of muscles, tissues & cells
- Immune function
- Making essential hormones & enzymes
- Energy when carbohydrate is not available (extreme circumstances)
- Preserving lean muscle mass
Where can we find it?
- Lean meats & fish such as chicken, turkey, beef, kangaroo, ham, lean pork, tuna & salmon
- Lean/ pre-packaged lunch meats such as shaved turkey breast/ ham/ shaved chicken breast
- Eggs & egg whites
- Dairy products such as milk, yoghurt, cheese & cottage cheese
- Supplements such as protein shakes, protein bars, Quest bars.
Aim for a minimum 0.35-0.4g of fat per lb of body weight.
What do we need it for?
- Growth & development
- Energy (fat is the most concentrated source of energy)
- Absorbing certain vitamins
- Providing cushioning for the organs
- Maintaining cell membranes
- Providing taste, consistency & stability to foods
Where can we find it?
- Nut butters, nuts, avocado & fattier cuts of meat,
- MCT oil, coconut & coconut oil, canola oil, flax oil, fish oil & olive oil
- Full fat milk & cheese
There are three main types of fat:
- Saturated fat
- Unsaturated fat
- Trans fat.
Saturated fat (found in foods like meat, butter & cream) & trans fat (found in baked goods, snack foods & fried foods) have been shown to increase your risk for heart disease.
Replacing saturated & trans fat in your diet with unsaturated fat (found in foods like olive oil, avocados & nuts) has been shown decrease the risk of developing heart disease.
The body does not ‘need’ carbohydrates. Once you have determined your protein & fat requirements, you should feel free to fill your remaining calories with further fats & carbs, as per personal preference.
Why do we need them?
- They are the body’s main source of fuel.
- Easily used by the body for energy & stored in muscles/ liver to be later used as energy.
- All of the tissues & cells in our body can use glucose for energy.
- Needed for the central nervous system, kidneys, brain & muscles (including the heart) to function properly.
- Important in intestinal health and waste elimination.
Where can we find them?
- Rices, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pasta, oatmeal & anything from oats
- Baked chips, low fat popcorn, whole wheat bread or other breads, bran cereal, whole wheat tortillas
- Fruits, beans, sauces, veggies.
Fibre refers to certain types of carbohydrates that our body cannot digest. These carbohydrates pass through the intestinal tract intact & help to move waste out of the body.
Diets that are low in fibre have been shown to cause problems such as constipation & haemorrhoids & to increase the risk of cancers such as colon cancer.
Diets high in fibre have been shown to decrease risks for heart disease, obesity & help to lower cholesterol.
Foods high in fiber include:
- Quest bars, beans, whole grains, brown rice, berries, some fruits, bran cereal, oatmeal, vegetables (the crunchier the better), avocado.
A NOTE ON MICRONUTRIENTS
Although macronutrients are very important they are not the only things that we need for survival.
Whilst meeting macronutrient requirements on a daily basis is important in reaching goals that are based largely around body composition or performance, it is important to consider choosing foods that are more nutrient dense in order to look after your health, digestion & general well-being, not to mention assist with mood, energy levels, training intensity & satiety.
Our bodies also need water (recommended 50-60ml per 1kg of body weight) & micronutrients. Micronutrients are nutrients that our bodies need in smaller amounts such as vitamins & minerals.
Provided you’re eating 2-4 serves of vegetables, 1-2 serves of fruit, consuming adequate fibre & incorporating a wide variety of nutrient dense whole foods whilst meeting your daily macronutrient requirements, you will likely not have to worry about specifically eating for certain micronutrient goals.