We hear about ‘Macros’ all the time, but what really are they, and what part do they play in a healthy diet?
Nowadays, with the increased interest in healthy eating and fitness among some populations, many buzzwords get thrown around, but do we know what they mean, and do we need to know them, in order to eat a healthy diet? Not a day goes by where you won’t see terms such as ‘Clean Eating’, ‘Ketogenic’ and ‘Paleo’, being used on Instagram, but I’m sure that you have seen the term ‘Macros’ floating about too?
Macros’, short for ‘Macronutrients’, refers to the three main components of food; Carbohydrates, Protein and Fat. These three segments are the nutrients that the body needs in large amounts, and it’s these three nutrients that give us energy.
Carbs are the macronutrient that our body needs the most of. Typically, carbs can be categorised into two sub groups; Simple/free sugars (jams, sweets, fruit juice) and Complex/startchy carbs (rice, pasta, potatoes). All carbs are broken down into glucose once we consume them, and this is what fuels our body, and keeps our muscles and organs working. Sources of carbs include rice, pasta, potatoes (including sweet potato), beans, grains, oatmeals, granola, fruit and vegetables.
According to the Mayo Clinic, about 45-65% of your energy intake should be from carbs, depending on your activity level. Eat too many of the wrong types of simple carbs and you risk weight gain and eat too little of the good complex carbs can cause serious mental and physical fatigue, and won’t allow you to get the most out of your training or exercise routine.
It seems to be a trend lately that all brands are marketing a new and improved ‘protein’ version of their already existing products, but why do we need this Macronutrient and why is it such a desirable nutrient to have in our food?
Protein is the building block of our body, and is essential of cell growth and repair, while also being an energy source. Protein rich foods include lentils, eggs, nuts, chickpeas, seeds, soya, dairy, fish and meat. A common misconception is that the more protein the better, and will yield sports performances and bigger gains in the gym. Unfortunately, this is not completely true. While we need a certain amount of protein for muscle growth and repair, our body can only absorb a certain amount, after that limit is reached, the excess protein is redundant!
As a rough guide, we can say that the general inactive population need around 0.8g-1g of protein per kilogram of body weight, and more active people need between 1g-1.4g of protein per kilogram of body weight. Consuming well over this guidelines may impact on your health negatively, with evidence suggesting a long term overload of protein, through sources like Protein shakes, and not food, can impair kidney function.
Also known as lipids, Fats are gaining popularity as a nutrient, due to the high fat ‘Ketogenic’ diet. Fats are crucial for the absorption of the Fat Soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin A, D, E and K. They also contain essential fats that the body can not manufacture itself, so we must take them in through diet. Compared to the other Macronutrients which have around 4 kilocalories per gram, fat is very high in calories, containing 9 calories per gram, which is why eating a high fat Ketogenic diet isn’t always suitable for weight loss.
All fats are not created equal however, some are pivotal in a healthy diet, such as Omega-3 fatty acids from fish, whereas some are more harmful and should be limited, like saturated fats found in processed meats and trans-fats found in junk food. Healthier sources of fat include fish, nuts, avocado and soya. While having too much fat can lead to weight gain, as it is so calorie dense, having too little fat can mean that the fat soluble vitamins won’t have maximum absorption capabilities, and you could risk deficiencies.
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Katie is a registered Associate Nutritionist with the UKVRN through the Association for Nutrition. Katie completed her Masters degree in Clinical Nutrition and Health in Glasgow Caledonian University and her Bachelors Degree in UCD in Health and Performance Science. Before joining the team at GourmetFuel, she worked in a kitchen catering company, and for Our Lady’s Hospice Harolds Cross and is heavily involved with UCD Boxing Club. Her areas of interest are Vegetarian diets, disease prevention and Sports Nutrition.
It’s more simple than you think!
How to Achieve the Right Macros
Getting the Balance Right
The great thing about our website is that you can order meals, and once they are in the basket, it will automatically add up your Macros for you; macro counting made easy! This option is perfect for people who like to order online themselves but who are looking for specific Macronutrients.
So, do my Macros Matter when it comes to weight loss?
Macros for Weight Loss…
The simple answer is no. Weight loss can only be achieved if you are in a calorie deficit, regardless of your Macros. At the moment, there is a lot of talk on social media and fitness forums about low carb or Ketogenic ( High fat, medium protein and low carb) diets for weight loss, however, there is no real scientific evidence that low carb means quicker weight loss. Continued, long term low carb diets are often unsustainable, and can leave you feeling drained and lacking energy, due to the low amounts of glucose that your body will be breaking down. However, this doesn’t mean we can eat as many carbs as we want; it is crucial that simple carbs such as sweets and cakes are avoided, and complex carbs like wholewheat pasta and sweet potato are included instead.
If you are looking to drop a few pounds, and are unsure of how many calories you need to consume to stay full, feel energised, yet lose weight, give one of our Nutritionists a call on 01 2938799, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and they will be able to do a free phone or online consultation with you and work out your requirements.
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