MACRONUTRIENTS – WHAT ARE THEY AND WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT?
Macronutrients or in the fitness world “macros” is the break down of foods and what calories are made up of; fats (lipids), carbohydrates, proteins and water. Every day, the body needs nutrients for energy, growth and performance those nutrients are found in our food both from macro and micronutrients.
Macronutrients are nutrients that are required daily in large amounts; measured in ounces and grams. Macros supply the body with energy and serve the as building blocks for growth and repair.
Let’s break down the three categories to better understand their purpose and best time to consume them.
These are the sugars, starches and fibers found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products. This is the main source of energy for the body. Carbs provide fuel for the central nervous system and energy for working muscles. They also help prevent protein from being used as an energy source and enable fat metabolism. Brain function, memory and mood are also effected by the intake of carbohydrates.
There are two classifications of carbs: Simple and Complex
- Simple carbs are digested quickly and are found in foods like fruit and some dairy products. These are good to take in right after your workout paired with a complex carb and protein.
- Complex carbs are those that break down more slowly in the body and give more sustained energy. Sources include starches, beans, potatoes, oats and whole wheat products. Ingesting a complex carb before a workout is one of the best times because it will fuel the body for the workout without a spike in the blood sugar.
The primary function fat is an energy reserve; the body stores fat or adipose tissue as a result of excess calorie consumption. During exercise the body first uses calories from carbohydrates for energy, then the body uses calories from stored fat to keep going. Fats are also useful because they allow the body to absorb key vitamins A,E,D and K. Fats also serve to keep hair and skin healthy.
Choosing proper fats is key; there are many types: saturated fats, trans fats, triglycerides, monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fats, and omega 3 & 6 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids have the most health benefits where as trans fats have the least and should be avoided in large quantities due to their link with heart disease. Your fat consumption should be proportional to your weight and dietary lifestyle.
Proteins are the macronutrient that is essential to building muscle mass, and can be found in a variety of sources. Animal products, nuts, legumes and protein supplements are a few of the sources that contain protein. Protein is composed of amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscle mass. When protein is broken down in the body, it helps to fuel/build muscle mass. Protein also aids in keeping the immune system strong. When ingested, protein also helps the body to feel full.
Tips to Calculate your Ideal Macro Ratio
1. Know Your Goal and Eat Accordingly:
Because what you eat is critical to achieving your goal. A very common trap that makes people fail to reach their fitness targets is eating. There is a myth out there, which suggests that if you exercise enough, you can eat whatever you want. Well, sad truth is that this is a lie. According to the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine your exercise goals will not be fully accomplished without proper nutrition. Therefore, whatever your goal is, you’ll need to take your eating habits seriously.
It would be easy if we could recommend a typical ‘ideal ratio’ of carbohydrate, fat and protein. However, the reality is much more complicated than this. Requirements for dietary macro intake significantly depend on the individual and his / her goals. Here’s everything you need to know to determine the macro breakdown that is right for you!
2. Calculate Your TDEE:
The very first number you need to determine when planning your diet is the number of calories that you need to consume to maintain your weight. This is also the number that helps with weight loss/gain.
Use our TDEE calculator, crafted and perfected over time for this very purpose. It will give you a daily calories target.
3. Crafting Your Macro Ratio:
The next step is to craft your macro ratio. Sadly it’s not that simple. There’s no such thing as a single ideal or “golden” macro ratio. People have different goals, and so they have to take a different road in order to reach their ideal body.
Firstly, you need to decide what is more important to you: building muscle or losing fat. A lot of us want both at the same time and lean mass gains can occur alongside fat loss, as it is the case in carb-cycling or intermittent fasting. However, you will achieve better results by tackling one goal at a time. That is because higher carbohydrate ratio augments muscle gains whereas lower carbohydrate ratio tends to accelerate fat loss and especially beneficial for women with PCOS.
But one thing you should always keep in mind is that fat should never go below 15% of total calories. Although widely demonized, fat is absolutely essential for the proper functioning of our bodies. Since hormones are constructed from cholesterol and other fat molecules, consuming too little fat can actually suppress the normal hormone levels. This also has a negative effect on bodily functions that depend on those hormones. This includes growth, metabolism, reproduction and more. Fat is also necessary for vitamin and mineral absorption.
However not all fat are created equal. Not all fat has the same nutritional value to your body. That is why it’s important that you prioritize healthy fat sources like monosaturated fats ( these include egg yolks, nuts, olive oil), medium-chain triglycerides (coconut oil), and omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, chia seeds, tofu, beans, wild rice). As long as you choose the right kind of fat, you can feel comfortable with adding it to your diet!
Now, before you use our Macro Calculator please make sure you have calculated your Daily Calories. If not, do so here.
Now that you know your macros, one crucial factor to consider is the total calories you take in. No macro setting can save you if you eat way too many calories or way too few! So make sure you chose the setting that best describes your activities in our TDEE calculator.
Determining your ideal nutritional strategy will take time. Along the way, don’t go crazy about the calculations. Obsessing over “perfect” numbers will just kill your motivation for eating well. Instead try to get as close as you can to your macros but don’t freak out if your protein is a little too low one day or your carbs are a little too high. Eating closely to your macro goals is always better than having zero knowledge about what you’re eating.
If you are looking for a simple and factual weight loss guide, click here.
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