by Chrystie Dickens
Do you hear the word “macros” tossed around and wonder what the heck people are talking about? Let me take the mystery out of the word.
Nutrition macros, short for macronutrients, refer to the three main types of nutrients that make up the majority of our diet: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Each macronutrient has its own unique role in our body, and understanding how they work together is essential to achieving a balanced and healthy diet.
Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for the body. They are found in foods like bread, pasta, rice, fruits, and vegetables. Carbs are broken down into glucose, which is used by the body for fuel. It’s important to choose complex carbohydrates over simple carbohydrates as they are digested more slowly and provide a longer-lasting energy source. Complex carbohydrates are found in whole-grain bread, brown rice, and oatmeal, while simple carbohydrates are found in foods like sugar and candy.
Carbohydrates have been demonized in our diet obsessed culture. There are many programs and diets out there that are no-carb or low-carb. Some tell you not to eat carbs at all. But as you just read, carbs are essential for our health.
Proteins are the building blocks of our body. They are found in foods like meat, fish, eggs, and beans. Proteins are essential for the growth and repair of tissues, and they are also important for the production of hormones and enzymes. It’s important to choose lean proteins, such as chicken or fish, over fatty proteins, such as red meat. Plant-based proteins, such as beans and tofu, are also good sources of protein for vegetarians and vegans.
Many Americans are not eating enough protein. In my experience, eating protein 5-6 times a day, or with every meal, is key to gaining and maintaining lean muscle mass, balancing blood sugar and facilitating weight loss.
Fats are a crucial component of our diet, but it’s important to choose the right kinds of fats. Unsaturated fats, found in foods like nuts, seeds, and avocados, are good for our heart and brain health. Saturated fats, found in foods like butter, cheese, and red meat, should be limited, not eliminated, as they can raise our cholesterol levels and increase our risk of heart disease. Trans fats, found in processed foods, should be avoided altogether.
My favorite healthy fats are: extra virgin olive oil, avocados, nuts and nut spreads, egg yolks and coconut.
KNOW YOUR MACROS
The amount of each macronutrient that you need depends on a variety of factors, including your goals, age, gender, weight, height, and activity level. There is no “one-size-fits-all” macronutrient breakdown.
Tracking your macros can be a helpful tool in achieving a balanced and healthy diet. There are many apps and websites available that can help you track your macronutrient intake. However, it’s important to remember that counting macros is not necessary for everyone, and it’s important to focus on overall balance and variety in your diet. The first step is keeping a food journal. Whether you use an app like MyFitnessPal or you use a pen and paper, tracking food intake tells us a lot about our habits.
As you can see, understanding nutrition macros is essential to achieving a balanced and healthy diet. Carbohydrates provide energy, proteins build and repair tissues, and fats are crucial for our heart and brain health. By choosing the right kinds of macronutrients and tracking your intake if necessary, you can optimize your diet for your individual needs and goals.
If you need help with your personal nutrition and fitness goals, check out Services — Fit & Fourtyish LLC.
Chrystie Dickens is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Nutrition Coach, Certified Warrior Strength Instructor, and Certified Tribe Team Training Instructor. She is the Founder of Fit and Fourtyish, a personal training and nutritional coaching program dedicated to helping people with strength, agility, balance and weight loss. She can be reached at email@example.com.