This post is to give a brief overview of what macronutrients are and briefly how they interact in the body. Details will be discussed in future blog posts including break downs of how to count your macronutrients in various diets and more details on caloric intake. This article is to go in conjunction with the food list which can be found here.
Macronutrients, or macros for short, are three basic components of every diet. They are divided by fats, carbohydrates and proteins. There is a fourth macro, alcohol, which I will cover in a future blog post. These are used to feed your body’s needs and their ratios can be altered to enable the body to both help with portion control, caloric intake, and to meet your body’s needs based on activities and body goals.
Calories: 4 calories per gram
Lets talk about protein first. Protein is the building block for any individual who wishes to build muscle. It is arguably the best macro for athletes to replenish and repair their muscles and to create new ones. It is generally found in larger quantities in foods such as meat, dairy, and other animal products. In addition it is found in legumes and other vegetables. Legumes generally have larger carbohydrate amounts as well as proteins.
Proteins are made up of various amino acids. Many of them are created by the human body. However there are nine amino acids which are not created by the human body and are therefore called essential amino acids. These essential amino acids need to be included in any healthy diet.
Calories: 4 calories per gram
Carbohydrates (carbs) get a bad rap much of the time in our modern society. While it is true your body can survive without them, doing so is not pleasant for most of us and would require severe adjustments in how you go out to eat, shop and cook your food. Carbs are divided into simple and complex. They get their names based on their length of molecular chains. The simple carbs have shorter chains and are more quickly broken down by the body. Basically the simple carbs are sugars. Longer molecules are more “complex” and therefore take longer for the body to break down. These are also called starches.
While its true that a carb is a carb be it a starch or a sugar, your body will process sugars more quickly than starches and you will feel hungry faster. This is one of the reasons why sugars cause weight gain, the individual becomes hungry faster and eats additional simple carbs. Its best when using fuel for the body to focus on starches for carbohydrate macros.
Calories: 9 calories per gram
Fats are incredibly important in our diets. They also get a bad rap due to their caloric density per gram. However your body needs fats for proper body function, help with your hormones, insulation for nerves aid in your nails, hair health and skin.
There are different types of fats. The main three that you need to be concerned with are trans fats, omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. Trans fats have been shown to increase the risk of coronary heart disease and should be avoided. They are found in many processed foods.
The remaining two types are known as essential fatty acids. Much like essential amino acids they are fats that your body cannot produce on its own and needs to be part of your daily diet. Omega-3’s can be found in fish oil or fish, flax and various nuts.
This article is just the beginning of discussing macronutrients. There are so many additional things that can be addressed and discussed. In future posts I will discuss how you can count your macros, how you can alter them to meet certain goals, and more detail on caloric counting and intake. I just wanted to give a brief overview here to give a little more information about the foods listed in the food list.
Happy lifting and Strive to Arrive!