At EAT TRAIN LIVE™️, we pride ourselves on delivering healthy, delicious, macro-balanced meals. But wait – what’s a ‘macro-balanced’ meal anyway? Considering we eat them everyday, I’m often surprised at the number of clients I see in practice that need an explanation when it comes to macronutrients or ‘macros’ as the cool kids are calling them! So today I’m bringing you the low-down on macronutrients.
What’s in a Macro?
Macronutrients are the nutrients required by our bodies in large amounts to provide energy (in the form of calories) for growth, metabolism and other functions of the body. There are 3 main categories of Macronutrients: Carbohydrates, Fats and Proteins.
Carbohydrates, also known as ‘carbs’, are foods that break down in the body into glucose (a sugar) to provide a primary source of energy to your cells. The three main types of carbohydrates are sugars, starch and fiber.
Sugar is the simplest kind of carbohydrate. Sugar occurs naturally in many nutrient-dense food sources, like fruits and vegetables – but you’ll also find them added in many unhealthy processed convenience foods like sugary breakfast cereals, soft drinks and even some deli meats.
Starch is a complex carbohydrate, meaning it is made of many sugar units bonded together. Vitamin-packed starches occur naturally in vegetables, grains like rice and oats, and also legumes like peas and beans.
Fiber is another form of complex carbohydrate. Fiber occurs naturally in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes – particularly in their skins. Fiber helps in keeping blood sugar levels steady and keeps those bowel movements regular!
In terms of energy, carbs provide the body with 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate.
Proteins are broken down into amino acids by the body. Amino acids are necessary for the growth and maintenance of every cell in your body. They are the building blocks of muscle, bones, blood, skin and cartilage and also help you to repair these tissues. They are important in the production of hair and nails as well, and are used to make enzymes, hormones, antibodies and neurotransmitters (important brain chemicals) – basically, they’re really important!
Healthy sources of protein include organic and ethically raised poultry, meat and fish as well as eggs, nuts & seeds, dairy products (if you’re tolerant!) and legumes like beans, lentils, peas.
There are 4 calories in each gram of protein.
Fats are broken down into fatty acids in the body. Fatty acids from healthy sources, play a vital role in building all of your cells as well as hormones and support healthy brain function, mood balance, and healthy skin – they can also lower your risk of heart disease!
Fats often get a bad reputation and there are ‘bad’ fats to avoid (say no to trans fats in particular, which contribute to heart disease! These are often found in margarine, snack foods and fried foods). There are also many healthy fat sources like nuts and seeds, beans, avocado, organic or sustainably farmed fatty fish (think salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel and sardines) and natural oils (coconut oil, olive oil, grape seed oil and so on).
There are 9 calories in each gram of fat.
So there you have it! Questions? Leave ‘em in the comments!