An intro to macros!16 Aug
If you’ve ever tried a low-fat or low-carb diet before then you’ve probably heard about macros, but what exactly are they and is losing weight as simple as changing your calorie intake?
What are macros?
The term ‘Macros’ is short for “macronutrients”. Does that make it clearer? Great, let’s move on.
Just kidding, we know that macronutrients means about as much as macros (i.e. nothing). Basically, they’re essential nutrients required in large quantities in the human diet. These are fats, carbs and proteins. Things like vitamins and minerals are important too, but in lower quantities, so these are known as micronutrients. We’ll focus on those another time, today we’ll just look at macros…
Fats have a bad rep and are often negatively portrayed by the media, but they’re an important part of our diet and the richest source of energy! Fats are responsible for helping us absorb certain vitamins, protecting our vital organs and ensuring our cells function correctly. There are 4 different types of fat:
- Saturated fats – you’ll find these in meat, poultry, butter and cheese
- Trans fats – mainly found predominantly in fried foods
- Polyunsaturated fats – your omega 3’s and 6’s, found in oily fish, as well as various nuts and seeds
- Monounsaturated fats – Rich in vitamin E and may reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol, you’ll find these in avocados, nuts and vegetable oils.
Saturated and trans fats can be classed as ‘bad’ fats, as too much of them can increase your cholesterol levels, leading to a greater risk of heart disease. You’ll want to limit your consumption of these as much as possible – we’re not saying cut fats out completely though, just go easy on them and make some swaps for the ‘good’ kinds! Plenty of mono and poly fats will reduce cholesterol, improve your blood pressure and have your heart functioning better!
If you’re wondering how much you should be consuming, it’s recommended that 35% of our diet is made up of fats, regardless of whether you’re trying to lose, maintain or gain weight. It’s more about making healthier choices here, rather than cutting fats out!
Proteins are essential because they’re made up of amino acids, which help your body grow and repair. Especially important when you’re active and doing lots of exercise, as protein will help your body repair muscles more efficiently after each workout. 15% of your diet should be made up of protein, however, this amount can vary on your age, activity levels and your fitness goals! Children, body builders and even pregnant women require larger amounts of protein as they’re constantly growing and in-need of repair.
Most people think of animal-related products when it comes to protein, but there are healthier and more sustainable sources of protein to be found elsewhere! Beans, pulses, fruits and vegetables are all fantastic sources of protein. For example, lentils can add 9g of protein to your meal along with almost 15g of fibre! Although meat and dairy products are a source of protein, they also contain saturated fats and cholesterol, so again it’s worth looking to replace them occasionally with plant-based protein sources.
Carbohydrates should make up around 50% of our diet as they provide lots of important nutrients that ensure a balanced diet. There are 3 types of carbs:
- Starch – found in breads, potatoes, rice etc, it provides a slow release of energy once consumed
- Fibre – although it can’t be digested, fibre is there to keep the digestive system healthy and moving
- Sugar – including both natural sugars (found in fruit, oats, vegetables etc) and added sugar which you’ll find in the majority of desserts and sweet treats!
The key with carbs is that by altering the type and amount you eat, you can help make a difference to your desired results. By reducing your carb intake from 50% to 30% – 40%, you can effectively lose weight. It’s important to include the right types of carbs though! Instead of cutting out your wholegrain and nutrient-dense foods, cut out things containing high amounts of added sugar and replace them with healthier types of carbs, or even healthy fats and protein!
So, there’s a bit of an introduction to macros. There’s loads more info about them out there, but we hope that this will give you a basic understanding into what they are and where you find them, and the key takeaway here is that it’s about what you eat, rather than how much!