What are Macronutrients and why are they so important?
For a long time, the general rule has been that if you want to lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories and burn more off, creating a calorie deficit. But counting calories doesn’t tell you anything about how balanced your diet should be. For example, for 1,500 calories a day, you could eat a whole packet of Tim Tams plus a cheeseburger or 375 strawberries, neither would be healthy. Calorie counting can leave you hungry and often lead to overeating. Why ? Simply because, in contrast to nutrition density, calorie-dense foods are always not filling. So, it’s time to stop counting calories and consider counting Macronutrients.
What are Macronutrients?
Macronutrients are some of the essential building blocks of a healthy diet. We need them to feel energetic and strong, and for our bodies to grow, function and perform at their best. The three main macronutrients are carbohydrates, protein and fats. These nutrients determine your energy levels and output, and an imbalance of them (such as a protein deficiency) can cause major health problems.
Carbohydrates, in the form of starches and sugars, are the macronutrients required for brain function, daily activity and to fuel intense training and heavy workouts. Carbohydrates can be simple or complex and not all carbs are digestible. Non-digestible carbs are referred to as dietary fibre and play an essential role in digestive health. Low GI or complex carbs supply a constant stream of energy for the body to use throughout the day, whereas simple carbs are best during and immediately post-training. Carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram.
The most misunderstood macronutrient in our diets. Dietary fats have received a bad reputation over the years. Delivering a whopping 9 calories per gram, it’s not hard to see why. It is easy to over consume fats. However, dietary fats are essential for good health and should be consumed daily as part of a healthy diet. Fats supply the body with fatty acids the body cannot produce, such as omega 3. Fats also help the absorption of vitamins such as A, D, E and K. Ideally 20-35% of dietary calories should come from fats. There are 3 main types of fats: Saturated fat – Generally from animal sources. Found in meat and meat products, dairy milk, yoghurt, cream and cheese. Coconut oil also contains saturated fats, despite being from plant sources. Unsaturated fat – found in plant foods such as olive oil, avocados and nuts Trans fats – found in commercially produced baked goods, snack foods, fast foods and some margarines. Avoid foods containing hydrogenated oils. However, they are less commonly found in Australian foods.
Protein is broken down by the body into amino acids. These amino acids are used as building blocks for tissue repair, hormone production and supporting immune health. Protein can also be used as an energy source. It is a common misconception that women don’t need protein or that protein is only for bodybuilders. Protein is for everybody and is an essential component for good health and performance. Protein delivers 4 calories per gram.
For more information on Macronutrients visit www.corestrengthfitness.com.au