What exactly is a Macronutrient? Macronutrients are essential nutrients that our bodies require in large amounts for optimal functioning; proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Our bodies require different amounts based on our goals but essentially carbohydrates are our body’s main energy source so about 40-60% of our daily caloric intake should come from this group. Proteins are the main building block of muscle, responsible for production and repair of muscles. These should make up 20-30% of our daily caloric intake. Fats are needed for optimal brain and metabolic functioning about 20-30% of our calories should come from fats. (All of these ratios are general, for the basis of this blog I want you to get a general idea.)
Why should you care what macros are? Isn’t counting calories good enough if you are trying to loose weight? Calories in calories out right? Not really. All Calories are not created equal. Think about it, if you have 230 calories worth of clean food such as chicken, spinach and sweet potatoes do you think that serves your body better than a bowl of ice cream would? So now you tell me is calories in vs. calories out a theory that holds water? Let’s put it this way, think of your body as a car. When we buy a car we read the manual, we put gas in it, we change the oil, we take care of it. So why do we just assume that we don’t need to do the same with our bodies? Why do we assume that our bodies will just run forever regardless of what we put in them? If we continue to add sugar into the gas tank will the car still run as well? If we put ice-cream in our bodies instead of balanced macros like chicken, sweet potatoes and spinach will our body run as well?
So what is the easiest way for you to get started eating this way? I really want to keep this as simple and non-intimidating as possible. It’s not that difficult to start learning how to eat for maximum performance (which is way cooler than eating to be super skinny BTW). Anyway, as I was saying it’s not that hard. Everything we eat should fit into one of these 3 categories and be in the most non-processed form possible. (Processed food confuses our bodies digestive process and thereby confuses our metabolism). Now that you get how to pick your macros think of your plate as being a pie chart (not a pie, a pie chart, focus!). Divide your plate/meal into macronutrient ratios; 40-60% carbohydrates, 20-30% proteins, 20-30% fats. If you really want to get into this use a food tracking app such as My Fitness Pal (that’s the one I use). When you use this app it will calculate your macronutrient ratios in the form of a pie chart for you. The premium version will break down all your macros per meal for you, taking all the guesswork out (I recently switched to the premium version and I love it). If that’s too confusing simply eat from each macronutrient category every 3 hours.
Here let me break this down for you…I am just naming some in each category, there are many options
Awesome Protein Sources:
beans, eggs, tofu, tempeh, fish, turkey, chicken, bison, beef, venison (not that I would ever eat it, YUK!), shellfish, duck, turkey, lamb, pork, kefir, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, quinoa, protein powder, protein bars (I like Quest bars)
Sources of Complex Carbs:
Simple carbs cause insulin spikes which contribute to crashes in energy and increased food cravings, avoid them if you can, except for birthday cake. (If it’s someone’s birthday and you refuse a slice of cake that is bad karma and bad manners, so don’t do that).
Complex carbs include grains (millet, amaranth, barley, buckwheat, brown rice), sweet potatoes, oats, beans (yes they can be in this category too, either way they are clean so don’t stress it too much), fruits and vegetables (they are in this category too, they are called fibrous carbs).
Some protein sources are higher in fat such as red meat or salmon so if you are using them as a protein source your fats are naturally occurring and you don’t need to add any additional fats from this category.
Other healthy fats include: nuts, nut butters, avocados, coconut oil, walnut oil, extra virgin olive oil, chia seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds (all the seeds).
Here’s the thing we want to eats what’s going to make our bodies the most stable, have the most steady energy and the least amount of mood swings. Most of us walk around eating for pleasure and if that is the only thing driving us, our bodies suffer, we pay a price for that. I am not saying don’t eat what tastes good. Obviously, you want your food to taste good but more important than the taste is what your food can either do for you or to you. Ideally we need to eat for fuel 80% of the time and relax for 20% of the time. Our food can be our best source of medicine or a reason we need to take medicine.