Know Your Macros

I’m sure you will have noticed some other values on nutritional labels aside from calories, you may be familiar with carbohydrates, protein and fat. These are known as macronutrients and the ratios of these macronutrients in your diet can have big effects of your body composition.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are fuel, particularly for faster, more intense activities. Carbohydrates are not completely essential to our bodies however they have plenty of benefits, they influence mood, sleep and physical performance and also are useful for regulating hormone levels. Carbohydrates are termed as simple or complex carbohydrates, in terms of nutrition, foods with more complex carbohydrates normally have more vitamins and minerals and fibre which fill you up more and provide more complete nutrition.

Sources of carbohydrate include:

  • Breads
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Porridge
  • Beans
  • Potatoes
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Legumes

What you should know about carbohydrates

  • Carbohydrates, while not essential, are definitely desirable in your diet
  • Athletes engaging in anaerobic and aerobic activity need more carbohydrates.
  • Carbohydrates can aid sleep
  • Complex carbohydrate intake is correlated with a lower BMI

Fat

Fat is an energy source and an essential part of your diet. Despite all the bad press it has gotten over the years, fat is a vital nutrient that you are far healthier with than without. Fat is essential for good skin, hormone levels and the natural workings and secretions of the body. Eating the right types of fat will balance cholesterol and while fat doesn’t have much effect on fat loss in normal amounts and doesn’t cause much energy to be spent when it is digested, it is quite filling. Fats are calorie-dense so you should keep track of any calories added to your diet from fatty dressings or condiments as they quickly add up.

Sources of fat include:

  • Fats and Oils (vegetable and animal)
  • Nuts
  • Meats
  • Fatty fish
  • Cream
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Chocolate

What you should know about fat

  • Fat isn’t bad but it is good to eat a variety of fats (saturated, unsaturated, polyunsaturated)
  • Fat may increase performance in endurance events
  • Fat can increase testosterone in males

Protein

Protein is the bricks and mortar of muscle, it’s the most abundant substance in your body after water. It’s what we’re made of and it’s an important part of fat loss. In fact, the next section is devoted to protein and its numerous effects on fat loss.

Sources of protein include:

  • Meats
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Soy Products

What you should know about protein

  • Protein is essential
  • Protein can aid athletic development and muscle growth
  • Protein can help you retain muscle when losing weight
  • Protein has the highest TEF of all the macronutrients

Macronutrient Density

Different macronutrients have different amounts of calories per gram, it’s not too important for counting calories as you can get the calorie content from the nutritional label however it’s useful if you’re forced to guess the calorie content of a meal.

  • Carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram
  • Protein contains 4 calories per gram
  • Fat contains 9 calories per gram.
  • Alcohol has 8 calories per gram.