When looking at calories they are split up into Macro nutrients : These are the nutrients that provide energy (calories)
Nutrients are needed for every thing growth, repair, metabolism and bodily functions. Macro means large so these Macro nutrients are needed in large amounts.
Macro nutrients gets thrown around a lot but what are they?
They are split down into 3 groups and each one is needed for optimum health, performance and body composition.
Protein : Provides 4 calories per gram
Carbs: Provides 4 calories per gram
Fats: Provides 9 calories per gram
There is one more in this, however this isn’t needed for survival however it is a big part of our lives and many of us not seem to function properly on a Friday night with out it…
Alcohol: Provides 7 calories per gram (these calories are empty… they do nothing for the body)
Proteins are the building blocks of the body and are made up of Amino acids, Some Amino acids our body can create (non-essential) and others our body can’t (essential) so we need to get these from our diet.
Proteins also help to raise the metabolism as it takes longer to digest, it is also good in the fact that it keeps you fuller for longer.
Proteins are responsible for:
- Tissue repair (creating new muscle)
- Creating energy in the lack of Carbs (this isn’t preferred)
- immune function
- preserving lean mass (essential when trying to change our body shape)
- Production of enzymes and hormones
As you can see protein does a lot in the body and this is one of the main if not the main Macro while doing body composition.
The government guidelines for protein are quite low and are only the minimum intake to stop and health concerns, however while trying to look better and perform better a higher intake is required normally around 1 gram per pound of body weight but can be higher.
It’s quite simple to work this out if you just stick to a balanced diet and eat a serving of protein with each meal you should easily hit this,
This will come from foods such as meats, dairy, whey protein, beans, legumes and nuts.
You will get protein from others sources but are minimal.
Fats have had a bad name in the past with every one thinking that eating fat makes you fat, this can’t be further from the truth… Eating too much food makes you fat not a single macro, Yes Fat has a higher calorie rate per gram and over consumption can lead to more calories a lot quicker but fat should be included into the diet as fats are responsible for :
- Provides an energy source (the biggest in the body)
- Manufactures and balance of hormones
- Forms our cell membranes
- Forms our brains and nervous systems
- Helps transport fat soluble vitamins A,D,E,K
- Provides 2 essential fatty acids the body can’t make Linoleic acid (omega 6) and Linolenic acid (omega 3) and
- It makes our food taste nice!
You should be aiming for at least 20% of your daily intake to come from fats and this should be coming from a mixture of
- Saturated (animal fats, tropical oils)
- Mono-unsaturated (Olive oil, Avocados, nuts)
- Polyunsaturated (Omega 3/6, Flax, Fish)
- Minimal if any trans fats (fast food etc)
Easiest way to hit the 20% ratio of fats per day, have a serving of each on each meal.
Here is another one of the massive diet trends we all seem to think is making us fat and once again… not on food makes you fat over consumption is.
The reason why this is making us fat is ease, carbs are easy and every where also the little health bars, picky foods etc have a lot of carbs and energy in them, so while you think you are not eating a lot you are eating high calorie foods with minimal nutrient density in them.
Carbs are found in the diet as Sugar, Starch and dietary fibre these nutrients have a major role:
- They are the main energy source of the body
- Required for optimal functioning
- They are easily used for energy
- Glucose is essential for life
- Brain and Nervous system prefers glucose for fuel
- Fibre comes from carbs,
Even though Fibre isn’t digested it is important for satiety, blood fat levels, colon and gut health.
Once you have eaten Carbs their final products are always glucose, fructose and galactose, Glucose is the predominant form that will reach all of your cells
All carbs are digested differently and at different rates. You want to base most of your carb intake from slow digesting, unprocessed and high in fibre (Low GI). This will help you stay fuller for longer and keep the blood sugar steady.
There is of course an exception to this rule and that is after you have trained when your body and muscle are more receptive and this is after high intensity training when you want to quickly replenish you carb stores)
Carbs come from nearly every thing Vegetables, fruits, processed foods, sweets, sugars, drinks.
The minimum recommended intake is around 130g per day but this will all depend on your body size, activity levels and goals, some people do thrive on lower than this intake and some on higher.
To know you’re getting a good intake of carbs is to include fruit and veg with all meals and add in starch carbs around your training (rice, pasta, potatoes etc) Then see how you are an adjust.
A good rule of thumb is the higher the fats the lower the carbs and vice versa, while protein stays consistent through out.
So working off this you would have protein with each meal and a serving of fruit/veg, a carb serving and a small fat serving. (if fat was higher you would remove the carb)
After you train you would simple remove the fat serving and just have a carb serving.