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What each of these macronutrients do for us and why we should be eating them all.
Amanda Edell NASM CPT, ACSM CP | @bodybyamanda | bodybyamandanyc.com
#DYK: The average adult needs anywhere from 1800-2500 calories a day just to maintain weight. The food we take in on a day to day basis is converted into energy by our body from the macronutrients we get through food known as proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
You've heard of the different ways to drop body fat; cutting carbs, cutting out sugar, limiting high fat foods, etc.
It doesn't matter where that deficit is coming from. As long as you’re eating under what your individual caloric maintenance is, you will lose weight.
Recently, there has been a lot of hype around certain diets where people see much success from eliminating a specific macronutrient group in its entirety.
The reality is this though: for the body to run at its most optimal level, eating a variety of healthy carbs, fats and protein work just as well for weight loss.
So, despite what you might have heard, carbs don’t make you fat. Sugar doesn’t make you fat, and fat doesn’t make you fat.
Although it is recommended that we should be eating a mix of carbs, fats and protein in order to perform our best, it’s important to keep in mind the amount of energy that each macronutrient provides varies, which explains why we need more carbs and proteins when compared to fats.
Let’s take a closer look at what each of these macronutrient groups provide us with and why you should be eating all of them in moderation to look and feel your absolute best.
Protein is the head honcho macronutrient food group. Although our body doesn’t need as much protein as it typically does carbs, it has a ton of benefits and is essential to life.
Protein is found in animal sources such as meat and dairy as well as plant based sources. (Despite plant based sources of protein not being considered “complete” due to the fact they don’t contain all 20 amino acids, you can combine different plant sources to obtain all of the amino acids you need).
When it comes to all the macros, you want to make sure you are eating enough protein daily for several important reasons besides providing your body with adequate energy.
Every cell in our body is made up of protein and it acts as the foundation for building new cells. It’s an essential macronutrient for anyone looking to build muscle in the gym or cut calories to lose body fat while maintaining that lean muscle.
for the body to run at its most optimal level, eating a variety of healthy carbs, fats and protein work just as well for weight loss.
Fats are an essential building block in our bodies because they support cell growth.
Protein helps keep you satiated for a longer period of time and requires more energy in the body to break it down during the digestion process. This is known as the thermic effect of food.
You should be aiming to eat the same amount of grams of protein equal to what you weigh in pounds. So, for example, if you weigh 100lb, you should be aiming to eat at least 100g of protein everyday. (Or at least 35-40% of your total caloric intake). Keep in mind that the body doesn’t store protein like it does compared to carbs so it’s essential we eat enough of it everyday.
Carbohydrates are the macronutrients that provide our body with the most energy and when broken down, carbs enter our bloodstream as glucose.
Simple carbohydrates can be metabolized quickly which comes in handy as a quick source of energy for the body. Simple carbs include sugar, such as sucrose (table sugar), fructose (fruit sugar), lactose (dairy sugar), and glucose (blood sugar).
This explains why glucose is the preferred energy source the body uses when doing specific physical activity (i.e lifting weights or doing cardio) and is also the first and preferred energy source to be used in the brain for proper function.
Carbs can be stored in the muscles and liver if we happen to not be getting enough of them. This is why people who cut out carbs may experience a significant weight loss in a very short amount of time. What’s actually happening is the body is using the stored carbs in the liver and muscles as fuel and when those are depleted, the weight loss they see reflected on the scale is actually just a decrease in water weight from the lack of carbs filling their muscles.
Carbs not only help to properly fuel our brains and hearts, but they also help in making sure the kidneys and our entire central nervous system is up to par. When we don’t eat enough carbs, we can experience headaches, fatigue and moodiness. Carbs also ensure we are getting enough fiber in our diets everyday and thereby help to keep our digestion regular.
The typical amount of carbs a person needs varies depending on their activity level and goals, but you can consider a normal amount to be anywhere from 30-45% of your entire caloric intake.
Fats are an essential building block in our bodies because they support cell growth. They also help to regulate our hormones and help to properly absorb vitamins and minerals.
The good fats are considered monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and we should aim to eat the majority of these fats while trying our best to avoid transfats and saturated fats.
A good source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats consists of olive oils, coconut oils, nut butters, avocados, and sunflower oil, just to name a few.
Due to the higher calorie count per one gram of fat, we don’t need as many fats compared to proteins and carbs. The typical amount of fat a person needs varies but you can consider a normal amount to be anywhere from 20-25% of your entire caloric intake.