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Macros Made Simple: The Quick-Start Guide

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What Are Macros?

Imagine this: You’re about to significantly change your nutrition. Soon, you’ll come across the word ‘macros’ – mentioned everywhere – in health articles, forums, and social media platforms. So, what’s it all about?

The term ‘macro’ – for macronutrients – indicates that these are the primary nutrients we need. It’s more than just a trending term. It’s a crucial part of the food our bodies need.

Why? Because macronutrients are our fuel, fortress, and formula for growth, repair, and peak performance.

Carbs, fats, and proteins are the main components of macronutrients. Each has its role, its importance, and its energy contribution.

Take the banana, for example. It’s made up of 93% carbs and has a bit of fat and protein. The primary nutrient it provides is carbohydrates. How about the avocado? With 79% fat and a small amount of carbs and protein, it’s mainly a source of healthy fats.

As you embark on this journey of nutritional understanding, get to know these essential nutrients. Learn about them, embrace their benefits, and see the positive changes in your well-being.

Dive into this quick-start guide, which breaks down the macro universe in easily digestible nibbles.

Protein

Protein is an essential macronutrient that differs from the others due to a nitrogen and amino group. Dietary protein is made up of different combinations of 20 amino acids. Here’re some important things to know:

  • Protein contains 4 kCals per gram.
  • It’s not all created equal and must contain the nine essential amino acids to be deemed a ‘complete protein.’
  • It provides amino acids for the building of muscle tissue.
  • Protein forms the body’s enzymes, chemical messengers, and structural components.
  • It should be consumed at 0.6 – 0.8 grams per lb. of healthy weight (or ideal weight if overweight/obese.)
  • Protein is safe and has not been shown to have adverse health effects in healthy populations.

Carbohydrates (Carbs)

Carbs are the body’s primary energy source, comprised of simple sugars like glucose, fructose, and galactose. While not technically essential – we can get energy from fats and proteins – carbs efficiently fuel our muscles, which is vital info for those considering a ketogenic diet. Achieving the same exercise intensity as usual, without carbs, is challenging.

  • Carbs provide 4 kCals per gram.
  • The glycemic index measures their impact on blood sugar.
  • Simple carbs, mono or disaccharides, are absorbed quickly for immediate energy or fat storage.
  • Complex carbs consist of several sugars, often in branched structures. These, found in grains and starchy vegetables, need conversion into simple sugars for absorption.

Typically, 40-60% of our calorie intake should come from carbs. For athletes, depending on their activity level, this translates to 3-12 grams per kg of body weight.

Fats

Fats, comprised of three fatty acids linked to glycerol, are a potent but less efficient energy source than carbs. They’re categorized as Saturated, Monounsaturated, Polyunsaturated, and Trans.

  • Fats yield around 9 kCals per gram.
  • Fats are essential for building cell membranes, producing hormones, and absorbing vital vitamins (A, D, E & K).
  • Saturated fats, with carbon atoms fully saturated with hydrogen, are solid at room temperature, found in chocolate, baked goods, and coconut.
  • Trans fats, artificially hydrogenated, were banned from food products by the FDA in 2015 due to health risks.
  • Unsaturated fats encompass omega-3, -6, and -9 fatty acids, benefiting cognitive function, heart health, and muscle activity.
  • Recommended fat intake is 15-30% of daily calories, with saturated fats constituting no more than 30% of that portion.

The Upshot

In nutrition, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats are the cornerstones. Each plays a pivotal role: proteins build and repair, carbohydrates fuel our energy, and fats safeguard cellular health and boost cognition.

These macronutrients aren’t mere diet buzzwords but the foundation of our well-being. Understanding their unique functions and balancing their intake is vital.

While diet trends fluctuate, the essence of sound nutrition remains constant. These macronutrients compose the harmonious symphony fueling our health and vitality. Embrace them for sustained well-being.

Want to learn more about how macros work? Read our complete guide to macros and how macros fuel your body.

Disclaimer: No Spoons to Cook is based on our own experience and research, and what we know works best for us. It is not medical advice. Our recipes focus on low inflammatory ingredients, whole foods and are founded in ketogenic and low carb ways of eating. We encourage spoonies to stay curious, ask questions, do your own research, listen to your body and to work with a Registered Dietitian or Medical Professional when appropriate to tailor your nutritional needs to support your care plan and goals.

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