Simply put, macronutrients (macros) is the term used to include all the food that we need to eat each day in order to live. Macros are made up of three categories, proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Some people like to add alcohol as a separate, fourth category, but since it is still a carbohydrate, I prefer to include with carbs and just stick with three. Macros also determine how many calories we eat. Totalling the caloric count from each macro category is where those calories come from that so many people still worry about, obsess over, and count. The good news is that when you understand what macros are and what they actually do, you'll never have to count calories again.
In case you hadn't already noticed, the proteins, fats and carbs that make up macros sound just like the PFC's I refer to so many times. In fact, they are one in the same. Phrases like “balancing your macros” and “eating PFC ever 3” are interchangeable. It doesn't really matter how you say it, what matters is when you do it right, you get results. So, if macros encompass all foods, and they are made up of only three categories, then everything we eat also must fall into one of those three categories. Let's break it down and learn exactly what a protein, fat and carbohydrate really is.
Proteins are our body's building blocks, essential for building muscle, bone, cartilage, skin and blood. Hair and nails are made almost entirely of protein. It's also essential for building and repairing tissue, hormones and other bodily chemicals. And unlike fats and carbohydrates, proteins cannot be stored in the body for future use so making sure to include enough is essential to maintain good overall health. Protein is also a key component in stabilizing blood sugar as it is digested slowly, helping to keep blood sugar levels in check. Meats and all animal products (eggs, yogurt, butter, cheese, milk) along with quinoa, hemp and chia are all sources of complete protein and contain all the essential amino acids our bodies need but are unable to produce naturally.
Fats help proteins do their job properly. They also help regulate growth, immune function, reproduction and parts of our basic metabolism. Good fats are a source of omegas which support heart health and cognitive function, assist in absorption of fat-soluable vitamins, improve digestion, reduce inflammation, boost immunity, improve skin and have anti-aging properties. And contrary to what you may think, we need to consume fat to burn fat. In fact, the whole low-fat movement that began years ago is actually what sparked the increase in obesity rates in North America. Not all fats are created equally. however and choosing healthy fats like avocado, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, hemp hearts, pumpkin seed, flax seed, nuts, natural nut butters, etc., while avoiding unhealthy food-like substances like vegetable shortening, vegetable oils, margarine, will ensure your body and brain both get what they need.
Carbohydrates are the body's first energy source. Without them, the body would be forced to take protein from the muscles to use as fuel, effectively eating it's own muscle and slowing down metabolism as a result. Definitely not something anyone would want to have happen. Low and no-carb diets seem to be quite popular at the moment, however eliminating an entire food group in an effort to lose weight not only slows down metabolism, it can leave the body deficient in essential vitamins and minerals found in the fruits and veggies that are not being eaten. And yes fruits and veggies are carbohydrates - the ones we should be eating. Processed and starchy carbs such as bread, pasta, cereal, soda, juice, sugar, alcohol, white potatoes, corn, white rice and really almost anything that comes in a package, box, bag, bottle, can, or wrapper can safely be omitted. In fact I encourage you to omit as many of these as possible and replace them with whole, single ingredient carbs that come conveniently packaged in their own wrappers – fruits and veggies. You'll soon notice many positive changes in your body as well as improved health in areas you've likely never even considered.
As you can see, macros do matter. All are necessary and all provide the greatest benefit for our bodies when put together in a way that balances the body and stabilizes blood sugar. Macro balancing, or as I like to say PFC every 3, done intentionally and consistently creates homeostasis (balance) within the body and allows all systems and hormones to function optimally. It is in this place of balance that we can thrive. Immune function improves, energy levels increase, depression and mood swings are decreased, blood pressure and cholesterol come down, sugar cravings are eliminated, hormones are balanced, digestion is improved, acid reflux is decreased, joint pain decreases, sleep improves, metabolism is turned on and burning fat, and excess weight is lost.
This is not a definitive list and the more clients I coach and the more people I meet living PFC every 3, the more wonderful stories I hear of how people are making small changes and experiencing significant results. There is a small demographic of people getting healthier as they age. The good news is, it's not an exclusive club and everyone is welcome to join.
Kelowna Nutritionist STOP dieting, start living! Lose the Bloat, Melt your Belly, Love Your Life!! Last thing, last time, believe it! Sign up to receive my bi-weekly FIT Nutrition blog, and get started today.