What are Macro Nutrients?
• Nutrients that provide calories/energy.
• Necessary for growth, metabolism and other bodily functions.
• Since “macro” means big, macro nutrients are the ones we need in the largest quantities.
There are three macro nutrients:
The amount of calories that each macro nutrient provides is different:
• Protein provides 4 calories per gram.
• Carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram.
• Fat provides 9 calories per gram.
Apart from protein, carbohydrates and fat, the only other substance that provides calories is alcohol.
Alcohol provides 7 calories per gram. But, this isn’t a macro nutrient since it isn’t necessary for survival.
Shoot for between 1-1.2g of protein per pound of bodyweight. The less body fat/more muscle mass you have, the more important protein becomes.
Why do we need it?
• Muscle growth and repair of tissues and cells;
• Immune function;
• Production of hormones and essential enzymes;
• Energy production when carbohydrates aren’t available (extreme circumstances);
• Maintenance of lean mass.
Where can we find it?
• Meat, seafood and fish like chicken, turkey, beef, pork, salmon, trout, haddock, tuna, shrimp, clams, etc;
• Charcuterie products like ham, bacon and turkey bacon;
• Dairy products like milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, etc;
• Supplements like Protein Powder, Protein bars and even Protein Granola/Ceral.
Shoot for a minimum of 0,35-0.4g per pound of bodyweight.
What do we need it for?
• Growth and development;
• Energy (fat is the most concentrated form of energy);
• Absorption of certain vitamins;
• Organ protection;
• Cellular membrane maintenance;
• They provide taste, consistency and stability to food.
Where can we find it?
• Nut butters, almonds, cashew (nuts in general), avocados, fatty meat and fish, dark chocolate, butter;
• MCT Oil, coconut oil, sunflower seed oil, canola oil, peanut oil, flaxseed oil, olive oil, fish oiletc;
• Full fat milk, cheese, yogurt and cream;
There are three main types of fat:
Saturated fat, which can be found in food like mat, fish, butter and cream.
Trans fat, which can be found in roast food, smoked food, snacks and fried food has shown increases in risk of cardiac disease.
Substituting trans fat for unsaturated (which can be found in olive oil, avocados, nuts) has been show to diminish the risk of cardiac disease.
The body doesn’t “need” carbohydrates. When you have determined your minimal needs for protein and fat, you can fill out the remaining calories you have left with carbs. You can also fill them out with protein or fat, depending on your personal preference.
What do we need them for?
• They are the main source of energy that our body has;
• They’re easily used by the body as glycogen stores in the muscles and liver, so that they can be used posteriorly as a source of energy;
• All tissue and cells in our body can use carbohydrates as a source of energy;
• They are necessary for the nervous system’s correct functioning, along with kidneys, brain and muscles (including the heart).
• Important in intestinal health.
Where can we find them?
• Rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pasta and oatmeal;
• Chips, popcorn, bread, cereal and tortillas;
• Fruit, vegetables, legumes and sauces.
Fiber is also a type of carbohydrates, but our body cannot absorb it. This type of carb goes through our intestine totally intact and aids our body in expelling impurities.
Diets low in fiber have shown to cause problems like constipation, hemorrhoids and also increase the risk of cancers, like colon cancer.
Diets high in fiber have shown to diminish risk of coronary disease, obesity and help lower cholesterol levels.
Foods rich in fiber:
• Avocados, legumes, brown rice, berries, some fruit, whole grains, oatmeal, vegetables (the crunchier the better and also a few fiber enriched protein bars.
A BRIEF NOTE ON MICRONUTRIENTS
Even though macronutrients are extremely important, they aren’t the only ones we need to survive. Reaching macronutrients daily goals is important to achieve goals that are mainly related to body composition or performance. But, it’s important that you choose foods rich in micronutrients so that you maintain your health, digestion and overall wellbeing. They can also influence our mood, energy levels, training intensity and satiety.
Our bodies also need water (it’s recommended that you drink 50-60ml of water per kg of body weight, per day) and micronutrients. Micronutrients are nutrients that our bodies don’t need in quantities as big as macro nutrients, like vitamins and minerals. As long as we eat 2-4 servings of vegetables and 2-4 servings of fruit per day, consume an adequate amount of fiber and include a wide array of nutrient rich food in our diet, we probably don’t have to worry about specifically eating certain foods to achieve our daily micro nutrient goals.