Macronutrients: The Basics

Macronutrients is a term thrown around quite a bit in the health hemisphere. What does the term refer to and why is it so popular?

Macronutrients refers to proteins, carbs and fats. The most important components of every diet! There is a lot of information out there about macronutrients which can be extremely confusing.

So, here we go. Let’s break this down!

Carbohydrates are usually given a pretty bad wrap. Most people hear the word “Carbs” and immediately think bread, pasta, doughnuts and sugar. Although those are technically carbs, they are not the only types! Vegetables, fruits, grains and dairy are all part of the carbohydrate family. Our body’s prefer to use carbohydrates for energy much more than protein or fat. The reason for this, is the rate at which our body can get that energy! Carbohydrates are quickly broken down into glucose once we eat them.

Our brain and glucose are BFF’s. In order for healthy brain function glucose is essential! Our muscles love glucose too, they use glucose for energy (when you work out).  Because our body clearly loves carbohydrates, we want to make sure we are giving it enough of the right types of carbs. For the average adult, carbs should make up 40 – 65% of your diet. Unfortunately, I am not referring to pasta, bread and cupcakes. You want this 40-65% to be mostly  vegetables, some fruits and some whole grains!

Now let’s talk protein! Protein usually gets a lot attention, and most of the time we are told we need more! Protein is essential for our body because we when we eat protein, it is broken down into building blocks and then our body uses those blocks to build our muscles, skin, hair, nails and connective tissue. Proteins also make up our enzymes, hormones, and antibodies.

How much Protein do we need? Protein should make up 10-15% of your diet. This may come as a surprise to some of you but chances are if you live in a developed country and are not solely eating chips and donuts, you are getting enough protein. For the average adult 30-40g of high quality protein per day is a good amount.

What are the best sources of protein? For you carnivores out there, fish, poultry, eggs and grass fed beef are awesome sources of protein. Plants have protein too and some awesome plant based sources are soy, quinoa, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and vegetables.

Last, but not least is the third and most ridiculed member of the macronutrient family; fat!

Fat tends to have a lot of haters but eating the right types of fat can be extremely beneficial for fat loss.There are two types of fat: saturated and unsaturated.

Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature. Things like, butter, coconut oil, animal products and MCT oil are considered to be saturated fats. These types of fats are important for both short and long term fuel storage as well as maintaining blood sugar. Eating too much saturated fat can cause problems.

Unsaturated Fats are more fluid and are typically liquid at room temperature. Olives, almonds, hemp seeds, flax seeds as well as their oils are all unsaturated fats. Essential Fatty Acids are unsaturated fats and they should be considered the MVP’s of the fat team. Essential fatty acids are extremely important as they aid in so many important body functions, which is why they are not stored as fat (adipose tissue) on our body. Our body uses essential fatty acids for healthy metabolism, recovery from fatigue,hormone transport and energy production and so much more! Fats should make up about 20-35% of your diet, the majority being unsaturated fat. Some of the best sources of fat are flax and flax oil, coconut oil, fish, avocados, chia seeds, and walnuts.

Phew, that was a lot of information. But I hope it helps you understand macronutrients a little bit better!