With all this hype about counting macros to obtain your health goal, you might be asking yourself what is a macro? Macronutrients and micronutrients are what fuel our bodies. Macronutrients are needed in large quantities to sustain optimum health and they include fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Micronutrients are needed in smaller doses and include vitamins, minerals and trace elements.
In order to fuel your body correctly, it is very important to have a base knowledge about what each nutrient is and how it is beneficial to your body.
Protein: A typical dietary program should include anywhere from 10-35% protein. For a more active person, their protein intake will increase to about 1-1.5g of protein per pound of body weight. For example, an active 150lb female would eat anywhere from 150- 225g per day.
The main function of protein is to help the body in repairing tissue, strengthening the immune system and making hormones and enzymes the body needs to function. Protein is the key for individuals who are looking to build, maintain and repair muscle. Protein also works with carbohydrates to provide energy. Healthy sources of protein include lean meats, poultry, fish, dairy, nuts.
Fats: Unfortunately much of society view fats as being “bad for you”, and that you should avoid them. However, it’s key to understand that “healthy” fats are essential for living. Research shows that 20% of your diet should consist of healthy fats. “Good fats” such as monounsaturated fats can be found in fish, nuts, nut butters, and olive oil. “Bad fats” such as trans fats and saturated fats found in fast food, and processed food, should be avoided.
It is essential to know that “good fats” are in charge of insulating the body’s organs and increasing biomechanical growth and development.
Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are the energy source for our body, the powerhouse of fuel. A person’s diet should consist of 40-50% of carbohydrates. Carbs have a similar reputation as fat. They have been labeled as “bad”, and accused of causing people to gain weight. This is simply not true. Healthy carbs provide essential nutrients for energy. For an active individual carbs are needed and used to fuel workouts. Healthy carbs include, whole-wheat pasta and breads, brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes, fruits and vegetables.
Vitamins: Help the body in a variety of ways by improving eyes, bones, teeth, skin, immune system and the digestive system. There are two types of vitamins, fat and water-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins include A,D,E,and K. These vitamins are mostly stored in the liver and fatty tissue for future use. Water-soluble vitamins C. B, and folic acid are needed more often since the body cannot store them. Excess amounts of these vitamins are excreted through urination.
Minerals: Calcium and iron are two very important minerals supporting health in teeth, bones, control of bodily fluids, and break carbohydrates into glucose. Minerals are found in bread and vegetables.
Understanding macro and micronutrients is important, however it is even more important to understand how nutrients and their recommended amounts work together for overall health and happiness. It is essential for a successful foundation to understand how the body works so that you can reach your goal of gaining muscle or losing weight.