Carbs, fat and protein are your friends!
Macros, A.K.A. macronutrients, are carbohydrates, fats and proteins. They are the main nutrients that make up the foods we eat. Each of these major nutrient groups are important for a healthy, balanced diet.
The benefit of tracking macros versus simply just tracking calories is to ensure your calories are coming from nutrient-dense sources of food that will adequately fuel your body and help you reach your goals. For instance, eating 2,000 calories purely made up of carbs and fat is not the same as eating 2,000 calories made up of a combination of carbs, fat and protein!
Carbs: “The bad guy” macro
Carbs have gotten a bad rap for a long time, but I swear they are not the devil! Take it from someone who used to aim to eat 30g or fewer carbs per day, it was not sustainable nor was it healthy. As an athlete, it took a huge toll on my energy and performance.
Now that I know this macro isn’t public enemy number one, I have fun eating an array of carb-forward foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and even pizza, pasta and donuts sometimes! So, whether you are an elite endurance athlete or prefer to take long strolls on the beach, carbohydrates provide energy or fuel for our bodies.
The amount of carbs you should consume each day will depend on your physical activity level, but they should never be eliminated entirely. As often as possible, choose complex carbs, like quinoa, lentils and oatmeal, versus simple carbs like sugary drinks, baked goods and candy.
Fat: “Will make you fat” macro
Back in the day (think 80s-90s), fat also got a bad rap but has recently been resurrected in the fat-forward Ketogenic Diet. As with protein and carbs, fat serves a purpose in a well-balanced diet and has many benefits.
This macro is necessary for survival – it serves as a major source of energy, helps us absorb certain vitamins, helps our muscles move and helps our blood to clot. It is important, however, to eat fewer foods high in saturated fat such as fatty beef, pork or lamb, dark-meat chicken and skin and high-fat dairy products. Focus on healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, fatty fish, olive oil and avocado, and try to eliminate foods with trans fat all together. Minimizing foods high in saturated and trans fat and cholesterol can minimize your risk for diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
Protein: “Just for meat heads” macro
Protein is necessary for protein synthesis, retaining and building muscle and fat loss. The recommended intake for protein is .7-1.1 grams per day per pound of body weight. So, if you are 180 pounds, your daily intake should be between 126 and 198 grams of protein EACH DAY. This may sound like a lot and maybe it’s much more than you are used to eating. Some benefits of consuming protein include:
- Promotes satiety or feeling full after you eat
- Maintains lean body mass and muscle growth
- Helps your body recovery after injury
- Boosts metabolism and fat burning
- Supports bone health