If you’ve ever been around someone who’s conscientious about what they eat you may have heard then talk about ‘macros’. Macros are short for macronutrients. They differ from micronutrients in that they are required in large amounts compared to the smaller or trace amounts required for micronutrients. The three macronutrients we ingest are: carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Let’s learn a little more about each one.
Carbohydrates (commonly referred to as carbs) help provide the body with energy. They provide 4 calories per gram. They are often thought to be found solely in foods such as breads and pastas but can also be found in fruits and vegetables. It’s these plant forms of carbs (fruits, vegetables, and grains) that also help to provide us with dietary fiber. Fiber is very beneficial to our health as it can help to improve our digestive tract and cholesterol levels! A common myth is that carbs are bad because they get converted to fat. This is erroneous and it should be noted that it doesn’t matter which macronutrient we’re talking about (carbs, fats, or protein), they can all cause weight gain when over consumed!
Fat is essential to take in for the body as we could not live without it! Fats help to make up each of our cells and play a huge role in hormone synthesis. You may be aware of the different types of fats – saturated, unsaturated, and trans fats. These are fats that can be found in the foods we eat. Fats provide more energy than the other macronutrients with 9 calories per gram. Did you know that each one of our cells have some vital component made from fat? The popularly advertised omega-3 fats are important for heart and brain health and can be found in a variety of source such as: fatty fish (salmon), oils (olive), nuts, seeds, and egg yolks (yes these are good for you too!).
Protein is another essential macronutrient. Providing 4 calories per gram, proteins are important in muscle synthesis. Every time we exercise, we have breakdown of proteins in our body. When we ingest protein our bodies break the protein down into amino acids and we can lay that down to repair ourselves from our workout. Most people think protein has to come from meat only. While meat sources are great spots to find protein, there are many plant sources of protein as well. Foods such as spinach, kale, broccoli, and mushrooms are just some of the veggies that can give you 4-6 grams of protein per 200 grams of the vegetable. Try incorporating these into an omelet for a little protein boost!
Based on your weight, gender, and activity level the amount of calories your body needs will vary. Similarly depending on your activity levels, lifestyle, and goals the percentage of each macronutrient you need can vary. Much like your fingerprint, everyone’s macros are going to be slightly different! This is why it’s important to work with someone who can tailor numbers specific to you and not rely on a computer to spit out very round, generic numbers.
Nutrition Coach Steve