Macros (macronutrients) & portion control:
If you are an avid reader of any health & fitness related blog, magazine, social networking, or you watch good old fashioned TV, you’ll be more than familiar with the words ‘PROTEIN‘, ‘FAT‘ and ‘CARBS/CARBOHYDRATES‘.
But what do each of these macronutrients actually mean to you and your body, and ultimately, to your health?
Let’s break each one down individually, give you their function, and what they can do to the body.
The name derives from the Greek word ‘protos’, meaning first, primary, or most important.
Proteins are the building blocks of life. Every cell in the human body contains proteins.
THE MAIN FUNCTION OF PROTEINS:
– repair cells and make new ones
– growth & development (pregnant women & children in particular)
– overall maintenance, skin, nails, hair, everything
Now can you see just how essential proteins are to the diet? Without adequate protein in the diet, your body isn’t going to grow, repair, or run the maintenance it’s supposed to.
PROTEIN, ANIMALS Vs PLANTS:
Animal proteins such as meat, poultry, eggs, fish, milk and cheese rank highest in regards to protein content. While plant proteins such as, quinoa, hemp seed, beans/lentils, rank lower.
You should base your protein intake around every meal throughout the day, with a rough guideline for portion sizes at each sitting:
– Men: 1-2 palm size portions per meal
– Women: 1 palm sized portion per meal
THIS IS A VERY ROUGH GUIDELINE!!
See what works for you, protein can be very filling, but this works well in the diet if you’re trying to lose weight. A diet higher in protein is proven to help you feel satisfied for longer, and to help you lose weight, mainly due to its thermogenic effect of food (TEF), that it has on the body. Meaning, it takes more for the body to break down the protein, which it turn, means you use more energy (burn calories) to metabolise it.
There is a rumour that too much protein in the diet is bad for the kidneys. There is no scientific evidence that this is true in individuals with normal, healthy functioning kidneys. However, people with existing kidney dysfunction should take precautions, and seek advice from their doctor, or a registered dietitian.
Remember, eat too much of any one thing, and you’re going to put on weight. Please don’t assume that just by eating loads of protein you’re going to stay/get slim. Too much of anything isn’t always a good thing.
Now, if you’ve seen one of my earlier posts ‘6 Fats For Fat Loss‘ you’ll know that I love fats, and so should you. Fats are essential, and again, found in every cell in the body. Here are 6 reasons why your body needs fats:
– it provides an energy source
– it helps manufacture and balance hormones
– it forms our cell membranes
– it forms our brains and nervous systems
– it helps transport the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K;
– it provides two essential fatty acids that the body can’t make; linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid), and linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid)
So why do fats get such a bad wrap!? Well the powers that be (in particular the U.S) decided that it was fat, that must be making people fat. Then went about campaigning that our diet needs to be low in fat, as it causes weight gain, leads to coronary disease, and will kill you before your are 40. Well they couldn’t have be more wrong if they tried.
Eating too much processed food, refined foods, sugar, basically crap, is what is turning our population into an army of ‘Michelin Men‘.
Avoid the ‘LOW FAT‘ fad. Naturally occurring fat from food is essential. Anything that says that it’s low in fat, is usually processed, the fat has been removed from it (processed), and then some form of sugar/sweetener is added to make it taste, dare I say, good!?
‘BUT ISN’T FAT HIGHER IN CALORIES’?
Yes this is very true, fats per gram are higher in calories:
1g of fat = 9 calories:
1g of protein = 4 calories
1g of carbs = 4 calories
However, like proteins, fats are very satisfying, meaning that you don’t need to have so many of them. Don’t be fooled by the calorie count. Fats in smaller portions are great for your body, and essential if you are trying to lose weight.
You should base your fat intake around every meal throughout the day, with a rough guideline for portion sizes at each sitting:
– Men: 2 thumb sized portions per meal:
– Women: 1-2 thumb sized portions per meal:
THIS IS A VERY ROUGH GUIDELINE!!
Like all of your food, listen to your body, keep and eye on your body shape, too much of any one thing, and you’re going to gain weight.
This is probably the most talked about macronutrient of them all!
Carbs are the bodies preferred fuel, as they are a fast-acting macro source for energy transfer.
WHAT ARE CARBOHYDRATES USED FOR:
– Provide energy for working muscles
– Provide fuel for the CNS (central nervous system)
– Enables fat metabolism
– Stop proteins being used as an energy source
Although carbs are our preferred energy source, this doesn’t mean that we have to live on bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, and breakfast cereals (the modern day western diet).
These foods can be used in conjunction with a well balanced, healthy diet. However, we can survive on real, natural food, which also provide us with an abundance of carbohydrates.
Carbs can be broken down into two main categories:
Simple carbs are sugars:
All simple carbohydrates are made of just one or two sugar molecules. They are the quickest source of energy, as they are very rapidly digested.
Some food sources of simple carbohydrates:
– Table sugar
– Brown sugar
– Corn syrup
– Maple syrup
– Jams, jellies
– Fruit drinks
– Soft drinks
Complex carbohydrates may be referred to as dietary starch and are made of sugar molecules strung together like a necklace or branched like a coil. They are often rich in fiber, thus satisfying and health promoting. Complex carbohydrates are commonly found in whole plant foods and, therefore, are also often high in vitamins and minerals.
These whole plant foods are great sources of complex carbohydrates:
– Green vegetables
– Whole grains and foods made from them, such as oatmeal, pasta, and whole- grain breads
– Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, and pumpkin
– Beans, lentils, and peas
This should give you a bit of understanding between the two categories. Simple carbs are fast acting, absorbed rapidly by the body for energy. Do you ever get that rush of energy after having some form of simple carb? Quickly followed by a huge crash, feeling lethargic? That’s your body digesting the food very quickly, then leaving you with that exhausted feeling.
Complex carbs on the other hand, will leave you feeling fully for longer, give you more sustained energy throughout the day, and shouldn’t give you that mid-morning crash that so many of us experience after our sugar laden breakfast cereals.
Portion control for your carbs can be tricky. Again you should listen to your body, see how it reacts when you eat certain carb sources. Personally, I tend to have most of my starchy carbs, or fruit, in my post-workout nutrition. The fruit added to my shake ‘Post Workout Natural Shakes‘ and my starchy carbs usually coming from potatoes, sweet potatoes, and rice.
You should base your carb intake around every meal throughout the day, with a rough guideline for portion sizes at each sitting:
– Men: 2 fist sized portions at every meal (veggies)
– Women:1-2 fist sized portions at every meal
– Starchy carbs will vary from person to person. Depending on your sensitivity to them, body fat percentage, and to your personal lifestyle, environment, and goals.
Remember, eating too much of anyone one thing, and you are going to gain weight.
Carbohydrates in particular are what cause most people problems. This is mainly down to many of them coming from a ‘simple’ source, eating too many of them, and eating the wrong kinds.
Listen to your body, see how food is making you feel, and keep an eye on the belt buckle. When was the last time you saw your toes? If it’s been a while, cut back on the carbs!
So, now that you have some foundation knowledge of these macronutrients, let’s wrap it up nicely on why you should be mixing all three with every meal throughout the day.
– Helps you build and repair cells/tissues
– Keeps you feeling fuller for longer
– Will help you lose weight based on a lower carb, higher protein diet
– It generally tastes amazing
– Used an energy source
– Keeps you feeling fuller for longer
– Essential for brain function
– Again, it generally tastes sexy
– Primarily the bodies preferred energy source
– Helps metabolise fat
– Stops you using your protein for energy
– Generally pretty good for you (the green stuff)
– Tastes like there’s a party in your mouth (the not so green stuff)
By combining all three of these together, you are giving your body every chance to function optimally.
HOMEOSTASIS: (The definition of homeostasis is the ability or tendency to maintain internal stability in an organism to compensate for environmental changes).
Basically put, you want your body to be in a state of balance, and well being. Where all of your bodily functions are working optimally, your hormones are balanced, and life is pretty f’king amazeballs!
We are all different, and our bodies metabolise macronutrients in different ways.
You need to be aware of how food is making you feel, check your mood, are you constantly tired?
Remember, that the food you consume all goes down the same hole. It’s the choices that we make, that will set you apart from the rest.
Start eating right, and see just how incredible eating real, wholesome, good food can make you feel.
Keep training hard, keep moving well, and let’s stay fit & healthy for a very long time to come.