My guess is you’ve seen the hashtag or come across the term “macros” in a magazine or blog? You may have skimmed over the word or maybe you stopped to wonder what “macros” really means.
As you’ve heard me say before, achieving a healthy body and maintaining it is not just about counting calories. Calorie counting doesn’t take into account what you’re eating, only the number calories you’re taking in. When I create meal plans for my nutrition clients, the number of calories take a back seat to the macro measurements.
Keep reading and you’ll see why…
Macro is short for “macronutrients” and it refers to the three basic components of every diet: Protein, Carbohydrates, and Essential Fatty Acids. But there’s a little more to it. When you understand how macronutrients work in your body, reaching your goals is a lot more, well…reachable.
Although many foods fall into more than one macro category (protein, carbohydrate or fat), one usually serves as the primary source. For example, a slice of whole-grain bread contains small amounts of protein, but it’s mainly a carbohydrate source and your body will use it as such. Let’s take a quick look at how each of the macros are used in the body.
Protein is the main component of muscles, organs, and glands. Every living cell and all body fluids, except bile and urine, contain protein. The cells of muscles, tendons, and ligaments are maintained with protein, too.
Children and adolescents require protein for overall growth and development, and adults need it to maintain cell integrity. Your best sources of protein are found in foods like beans, low-fat milk, fish, poultry and lean beef.
The primary function of carbohydrates is to provide energy for the body, especially the brain and the nervous system. Complex carbohydrates are the best choice for stable blood sugar levels. Whole-grain breads, pasta, oats, legumes, and starchy vegetables are all good complex carbohydrate sources.
Essential fatty acids play a part in many metabolic processes, and there is evidence to suggest that low levels of essential fatty acids, or the wrong balance of types among the essential fatty acids, may be a factor in a number of illnesses. Fish and shellfish, flaxseed, olive oil, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, nuts and avocado are examples of healthy fats.
Implementing an eating plan with the right proportion of macronutrients is the best way to ensure you’re giving your body what it needs to function efficiently. The proper balance of proteins, carbohydrates and fats is the best way to fuel your body for long-term health. And this is why I design meal plans and food prep around macro first and calories second. So, is it worth considering macronutrients? Yes, especially if you want to make smarter food choices- whether you’re looking to lose weight, build muscle or maintain a healthy lifestyle, this is a great place to start.