What exactly are macro-nutrients (also known as macros)? It’s very simple – Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fat
The macro-nutrients are the 3 components of your diet that you should be worried about when dieting, whether cutting or bulking.
Yes, total calories are important, but the macros are what you should be keeping a very close eye on.
If you’ve been in the bodybuilding or athletic fields, you may have heard the term IIFYM. If you have not, it stands for “If It Fits Your Macros“.
IIFYM – If It Fits Your Macros…
You are most likely to hear this when hearing someone else ask about whether or not they should eat a certain food group at a certain time and so on and so forth. The answer is “If It Fits Your Macros!” What this means essentially is that while monitoring your food intake for the day, pay close attention to the amount of macros you have ingested for the day.
If the food you are looking to ingest fits your numbers for your specific goals, then go ahead and eat that shit! For example, if you’re looking to consume 100 grams or less of carbohydrates a day (a low-carb type of diet like paleo), and you’re up to 80 but you want to eat something that contains 15 grams of carbs … looks like that fits your macros! So it’s safe to eat.
Get the idea? Yes? Good!
Let’s simply list each macro, provide you with a description and some good food choices that contains each macro, then list how many calories of energy are in each macro, and let you guys go from there.
Proteins are the building blocks of muscle. They are essential for keeping your hard-earned muscles while dieting, and they prevent muscle catabolism when you are extreme dieting.
Proteins contain 4 calories of energy per 1 gram of protein.
Example: 50 grams of protein is equivalent to approximately 200 calories.
Protein Food Choices: Meat, Poultry, Fish, Nuts & Seeds, Dairy, Eggs, Whey Protein Powder, Casein Protein Powder
Carbohydrates are known as the fuel which our body uses to perform every day tasks and functions. Generally, carbohydrates refer to the sugars and starches that are found in breads, cereals, oatmeal, fruits, and vegetables.
When you are digesting carbs, they are converted into glucose (a simple sugar). That sugar is then stored in the liver until it is called upon as an energy reservoir, better known as glycogen stores.
All carbohydrates, however, are NOT created equal.
There are simple carbohydrates, which cause a quick spike in insulin, causing your liver to release insulin quickly in order to bring the blood sugar down to a stable level.
There are complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs are slow-digesting carbs which get released into the bloodstream slowly, causing your blood sugar to remain stable for longer. Complex carbs do not put as much stress on the liver to release insulin to bring your blood sugar down.
99% of the time, we are after complex carbs for optimal performance and health. But there are times (after training in particular) where simple sugars actually help your body to refill its glycogen stores and begin protein synthesis.
The different chemical structures of carbs are as follows:
- Monosaccharides – simple sugars
- Disaccharides – 2 monosaccharides that are bound together at an atomic level
- Polysaccharides – complex carbs
Carbohydrates also contain 4 calories of energy per 1 gram of carbohydrate
Example: 50 grams of carbs is equivalent to approximately 200 calories.
Simple Carbohydrate Food Choices (Post Workout): Honey, Dextrose Sugar, Chocolate Milk. Avoid other simple carbs like candy and soda at all times!
Complex Carbohydrate Food Choices: Oatmeal, Brown Rice, Quinoa, Whole Wheat and Whole Grains, Vegetables, Fruits, Legumes
Fat is essential to human health, and should not be neglected while on any type of diet. Fat provides the cells and the body with the energy necessary to perform primary functions.
You need to know which types of fats to consume more of than others. Here are the different types of fat:
Fats that are solid at room temperature. These fats are refined so they are not a good source of energy. Saturated fats should most definitely be consumed in moderation, as they are key in raising cholesterol levels in the body. These should not be avoided completely, however, as they are found in milk, eggs, and meats. Saturated fats, though, should be your lowest intake of the different types of fats.
Fats that are liquid at room temperature. These kinds of fats are found mostly in plants, beans, nuts, and seeds. Polyunsaturated fats are vital to human health, as they are very important for managing a healthy heart.
Fats that are liquid at room temperature. These fats are found predominantly in olive oil, canola oil, peanut oils, nuts, seeds, and avocados. Monounsaturated fats are also good for your heart, and have been known to prevent coronary disease. Since these are considered lean dietary fats, they should be consumed in higher gram quantities than its counterparts.
Fat contains 9 calories of energy per 1 gram of fat
Example: 50 grams of fat is equivalent to approximately 450 calories.
Whoa! That’s a much bigger difference than protein and carbs. Don’t be too scared of fats – just monitor your intake and make sure you are getting it from the right sources to benefit your body.
There you have it. The 3 macro-nutrients laid out for you. At some point, Gone Liftin’ will go more in depth about macros and dieting and putting all the pieces of the puzzle together, so keep an eye out!