Macronutrients, macros for short, are proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Macro, meaning “large,” alludes to the fact that these nutrients are needed in larger quantities. Almost every food has a combination of macronutrients, but the difference lies in the composition of these macronutrients. The macronutrient that has the highest percentage in each food will determine how it is classified. Additionally, Macros help us develop, grow, and repair our bodies while giving us the energy it needs to function properly.
Protein provides amino acids, which are the building blocks of cell and muscle structure. In total, there are 20 types of amino acids, nine of which are essential, meaning that your body requires them from food. Protein in the body is used beyond just muscle. Protein is the core component of organs, bones, hair, enzymes, and all tissue. Additionally, it helps support a healthy immune system.
Good sources of protein (organic preferred):
- Fish and seafood (crab, salmon, tuna, white fish)
- Eggs (pasture raised ideal)
- Poultry (chicken and turkey)
- Lean and organic meat (beef, lamb, pork)
- Dairy (minimally processed cheese, unsweetened yogurt, and non-dairy alternatives)
- Tofu and soy products (minimally processed)
The Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that carbohydrates should account for at least 50% of daily caloric intake for the average adult. Complex carbohydrates are ideal when possible because they don’t spike your sugar and they help you feel fuller longer. They are rich in minerals, offer a high dose of fiber, and help to lower cholesterol levels.
Carbs are made up of chains of starch and sugar that the body breaks down into glucose. These are the body’s main source of energy and the brain’s primary source. This is important to know because, since your brain requires fuel at all times in order to function, your body is very efficient at storing glucose (in the form of glycogen) in the liver and muscles.
Good sources of carbohydrates:
- Starchy vegetables (corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash)
- Legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas)
- Whole grains (amaranth, brown rice, oats, amaranth, whole wheat)
- Fruits (apples, bananas, berries, cantaloupe, watermelon )
Lipids (fats) come in either solid form (butter, coconut fat) or liquid form (plant and vegetable oils). Fats are needed in the body for brain development. Fats make hormones and aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K). They have the highest calorie count per gram, meaning that they require more energy to burn, but at the same time, are helpful for increasing feelings of satiety, meaning they will keep you fuller for longer.
Good sources of fat:
- Olives and olive oil
- Nuts (almonds,cashews, brazilian and walnuts)
- Avocado and avocado oil
- Full-fat dairy and organic, grass-fed butter
- Seeds (chia, flax, pumpkin)
- Fatty fish (salmon or trout)
Taking into account that y9ur body needs each source to function properly, exploring macro counting is an excellent way to lose body fat, while maintaining or gaining strength. Tracking may sound restricting, but it’s actually quite easy. Although your goal is to eat a set number of carbs, protein and fat each day, it’s up to you to decide how you fill those.
Learn more about tracking your macros below