If you’ve joined a challenge recently where nutrition is part of the program you’ve probably heard Macronutrients or macros thrown around in the discussion. And maybe you have a general idea about what a nutrient is and why we need them, but the three fundamentals and most consumed macronutrients in our diet are proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates. That’s right, fat and carbs are included.
As science and technology expand, our realm of understanding what fuels our bodies best and what to include in a healthy diet has changed. Calorie counting is now a thing of the past. Instead of how much we’re eating, it’s more about what we’re eating. If you’ve ever counted calories, you know how even if you’ve consumed your allotted amount you may still feel hungry, lack energy or have reached a plateau in your weight loss journey. The beauty of tracking macronutrients is what is required varies from person to person, but all three macros are essential to your body’s functions and if done correctly will get you to your health and fitness goals.
Depending on those goals, you need to find out what your macro ratios guidelines should be. Having this information will affect how you plan your meals and how much of each macro you need to include at each meal. While it’s best to visit a dietitian to determine your needs, there are basic guidelines you can alter.
****If you’re counting macros for weight loss the general range per day is 10-30% carbs, 40-50% protein, 30-40% fat; bodybuilding or if you’re just trying to maintain these ratios work best: 30-50% carbs, 25-35% protein, 25-35% fat.****
Additionally, there are 6 essentials that can help steer you if you hit a roadblock.
If you’re still hungry the most satisfying nutrient to add is protein, but fiber is also a good source to add because of its filling nature.
If you’re feeling lethargic adding carbs especially from veggies is ideal to help give you adequate energy.
If your weight loss has hit a plateau lowering your carb intake, mainly at dinner when your body’s insulin sensitivity is at its lowest, so it won’t store the carbs and convert them to fat.
If you are losing weight at an abnormally rapid pace add starches such as a sweet potato, oatmeal or squash to one meal a day.
If you’re losing muscle mass add 5-6 bites of additional protein and up your strength training during your fitness regimen.
And if you are still craving sugar, you can balance your blood sugar with more protein and fiber.
Of course, just because you have a ratio of what to include in your diet, doesn’t mean you should eat just any carb, protein or fat. While a macro diet is customizable and can change depending on your goals, you should avoid processed foods. Because of all the additional ingredients in processed foods, including sugars, artificial flavors, fats (the not good kind), chemicals, etc., including processed foods in your diet can alter the effects you’re looking for and it can get you off track quickly. Here are a few examples of the foods you should include in each category.
Carbs: Leafy greens, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, quinoa, whole grain or sprouted breads, fruit
Protein: Lean beef, ground turkey, salmon, cod, egg whites, whey protein, nuts, beans (also counted towards your carbs)
Fats: Avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, nut butters, flax seeds
A macro diet is also called a flexible diet because it’s about fueling your body efficiently and we all have different goals, different levels of activity and different variables to what we need. But understanding what fuels your body best and knowing how to alter your diet to your goals will help you attain the results you’re looking for.