Macronutrients 101

Macronutrients 101

Calories in calories out.  We’ve all heard it.  Eat less and exercise more and you’ll lose the weight you want to lose.  As a general concept, that’s great advice.  Unfortunately, all calories aren’t created equally, and everybody responds differently to intake from different calorie sources.  There are three main sources of calories; these are called macronutrient groups and they include protein, carbohydrates, and fats.  Each of these nutrient groups plays an important role in our bodies and in our ability to gain or lose weight. 

Lean and Mean – Protein:

Lean protein is one of the best types of food you can eat to lose weight and to build muscle.  Protein plays a role in everything from structure, to hormones, to immunities, to enzymes in our bodies.  Without sufficient daily protein intake, our bodies don’t have the nutrients necessary to repair damaged muscles and to optimize bodily functions.  Protein also goes a long way in satiating hunger. 

Some of the best protein sources for dieting include chicken, fish, egg whites and lean cuts of pork.  Some vegetarian sources of lean protein include tempeh, tofu, sea vegetables, miso, seeds and beans to name a few.  There are also some lean sources of beef that are good for dieting, which include rump steak and eye fillet.

Fuel for Living – Carbohydrates:

Carbohydrates are an incredibly important nutrient source for our bodies.  For starters, they’re the body’s primary source of energy.  Without them, most people feel sluggish and irritable.  They’re also known as “brain food” because they provide energy to the brain, allowing us to think clearly and quickly.

Carbs can be simple (sugar, refined pasta and bread etc.) or complex (vegetables, whole grains, and legumes etc.). You should aim to avoid simple carbs unless they’re paired with a fiber source, as in fruits.  Without the fiber source, simple carbs cause insulin spikes which are bad for weight loss and general health.  Complex carbs are absorbed slowly in the body and provide sustained energy.  Despite advice from some diet fads, carbs shouldn’t be removed from the diet when trying to lose weight or otherwise.

Energy Reserves – Fats:

Over the years, fats have gotten a bad reputation, but in reality, there are healthy fats that are essential to the proper function of your vital organs and aren’t produced naturally in your body.  As with carbs, there are good fats and bad fats.  Good fats come from two sources, polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats.  These are very important to maintaining mental and physical health and can be found in nuts, seeds, fish, eggs and avocados. 

On the flip side, saturated fat and trans fat are the two major sources of bad fat.  These raise your low-density lipoprotein and increase your risk of coronary heart disease.  Saturated and trans fats are found in a lot of fatty beef selections, as well as baked goods, snack foods, fried foods, candy and more. 

So you see, there really isn’t a “bad macronutrient”.  They all play important roles in our overall health and should be incorporated into a well-balanced meal plan.  This will allow you to lose weight without creating the imbalances in your body that lead to cravings, lethargy, and ultimately, the inability to maintain weight loss over time. 

CATEGORIES: Diet, Carbohydrates, Carbs, Nutrient, Healthy Food