I talk a lot about counting macros but I totally forget that not everyone even knows what I mean by ‘macros’. What are macros? I certainly didn’t know before I did my research. This article explains all about macros and why it’s important information to know!
What are macros?
‘Macros’ are macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).This article will be looking at macronutrients and the role they play in the body. We need all three macros to function properly – macro in fact means large!
Carbohydrates are the main energy source for the body and are made up of chains of small units of sugar that the digestive system can break down relatively easily, and ultimately enter the body as glucose. Glucose is essential for the body, being the preferred and quickest source of energy for the body’s cells, as well as the brain.
Good carb options include:
- Fresh fruit (berries are great)
- Vegetables (dark green ones)
- Brown rice
- Sweet potato
Proteins and protein-based foods contain amino acids that are the building blocks of protein, as well as protein structures in the body – e.g. cells and tissue structures, hormones and enzymes. Amino acids are linked together in differing levels of complexity, and formation. All in all there are 20 different amino acids, 9 of which are considered essential, meaning the body can’t manufacture these naturally. They therefore have to be included and consumed in the diet. Proteins that contain all 20 amino acids are often called complete proteins. If you are vegetarian or vegan then you need to look to foods such as quinoa, avocado, chia seeds, and hemp seeds for complete protein nourishment.
Proteins play exclusive and vital roles in the body such as building, and repairing/regenerating body tissues and cells. Undeniably, it is particularly important for physically active individuals whose muscle tissue is constantly being broken down, and in need of repair. Protein has other roles that include the manufacturing of hormones, as well as enzymes used in digestion. Protein is also vital to the healthy functioning of the immune system.
Good protein options include:
- Beef (red meat is high in iron and vitamin B – so don’t exclude it)
- Salmon (high in good fats)
- White fish (lower in fat)
Fat plays “essential” roles in brain development and function, cellular production, cell regeneration and overall cell functioning. Another major function of fat in the body is protection, and insulation. Fat helps keep us warm in the winter, and maintain a comfortable body temperature. It is also vital for cushioning and to protect the body’s organs.
Lastly, fat plays a vital role in the absorption of certain fat-soluble vitamins (i.e. vitamins A, D, E, and K) as well as carotenoids found in colourful plant-based foods such as kale, avocado, carrots, watercress and bell peppers.
Good fat options include:
- Coconut oil
- All nuts (and nut butters)
- Chia seeds
- Red meats
- Whole milk
Make sure to eat all three
Whether you are a meat eater, vegetarian or vegan, it is important that each of your meals contain protein, fat and carbohydrate. How much you need/want to eat of each may change depending on your fitness and body composition goals. I will go into detail on how to calculate your macros in the next article in this macro series. Remember to subscribe so you don’t miss part 2!