Welcome back! Thanks for checking out our blog. Last time we promised to take the time to break down a few trending words and phrases in the diet world; starting with keto. This week we explain macronutrients and why people would track them. The process of tracking macronutrients(macros) has been used for a long time; most commonly associated with body building. Picture Arnold Schwarzenegger and big piles of chicken, rice and steamed veggies. These athletes are able to sculpt their body in extreme ways without giving up certain groups of food. How is that even possible? Through the science of tracking macronutrients (also recently has been known as flexible dieting). Let’s start with understanding the term macronutrient.
What is a macronutrient?
In the simplest of terms, a macronutrient is a food that your body needs in large amounts to function properly. The 3 main macros are protein, fat and carbohydrates. Alcohol is sometimes argued as a 4th macro but that is a topic for a different blog post. Today we’re going to focus on the big 3.
A protein is a chain of amino acids and found in all living organisms. Proteins can be sourced from animals or plants and contain 4 calories (units of energy) per gram. A carbohydrate is a sugar molecule that your body breaks down into glucose during digestion and contains 4 calories per gram. Fats are a combination of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen that are glycerides of fatty acids. They are found in plant and animal tissue and have a greasy consistency. Fats contain more than double the number of calories that are found in carbs and protein. Coming in at a whopping 9 calories per gram; it is easy to rack up calories if the foods you eat are high in fat.
What do macronutrients do for your body?
The human body is amazing and wildly complicated. We could write pages and pages about the purpose of each macro. For the sake of this blog, our goal is to make it simple. Each of these macronutrients are needed in large amounts for different reasons. They all play a part in fueling the human body and keeping it healthy.
We need to consume protein in large amounts because it is the building block for every one of our cells. Protein is used to build and repair tissue in living organisms. Without enough protein in the diet over a long period of time it is possible to experience muscle mass loss, a slowed metabolism and even slow healing of wounds.
Overdoing it on protein is also a possibility. It is hard to accomplish this on accident, but having too much protein in the diet over a long period of time can lead to things such as weight gain (from extra calories taken in trying to consume more protein), bad breath, constipation and diarrhea. It is recommended that a person’s protein intake should be around 10-35% of their total daily calories. This promotes healthy tissue repair and feeling “full” longer.
Carbs have unfairly been given a bad rap in the past few years! While there are types of carbohydrates that are better for you than others, when it comes down to it; carbs are your body’s main source of energy. When we ingest sugars (we’ll talk about the kinds in a minute) our body begins to break them down into glucose. Glucose is the preferred energy source for our body. When we consume too many sugars, our body stores the extra glucose for later use. When our body feels that it has enough stored glucose (stored glucose is called glycogen) it then turns the excess glucose into fat. The amount of carbohydrates we consume should range somewhere between 40-65% of our total daily calories.
There are different kinds of carbs, and to keep your diet healthy and balanced you should stick to complex carbohydrates rather than simple. Complex carbohydrates are found in whole foods such as sweet potatoes, whole grains, vegetables and beans. Simple carbs are found in your pasta, bread, cereal, donuts, candies.
While dietary fats are a macronutrient, they should still be eaten in moderation. Fats play an important role in helping the body absorb a variety of vitamins including A, D and E. It also helps protect your organs, promote cell growth and helps regulate hormones. For example, when a woman doesn’t have enough body fat, her menstrual cycle will be interrupted as the body feels that it is not safe to have a baby under the stressful circumstances.
Dietary fats can be broken down into 2 main groups; saturated and Unsaturated. Unsaturated fats are the fats that are liquid at room temperature and mainly come from plant sources. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and generally come from animal sources. It used to be thought that consuming saturated fats would lead to heart disease, but new studies show that as long as you keep your total fat consumption to no more that 20% of your daily calorie amount, eating some saturated fats won’t hurt you. Heart disease is caused by many lifestyle factors, not just from eating a burger.
Who is tracking these numbers and why?
In the diet and fitness industry, there is always a new trend. A new promise to “hack” your way into losing weight or gaining muscle. All of these end up revolving around the same thing: if you want to lose weight you need to be in a calorie deficit. If you want to gain weight(muscle) you need to be in a calorie surplus. All of these diets end up just moving around the time you are allowed to eat, and the groups of food you are allowed to eat.
Our bodies are designed to need all 3 of the macronutrients to function at our best. Paying attention to the percentages of macronutrients and the quality of the food you eat is not a fad. It is a time proven way that body builders, weight lifters, athletes, and weight-loss seekers have been able to change their body composition. The best part about learning to eat according to your macronutrient needs is that you don’t have to eliminate any of your favorite foods! When you know ahead of time how many grams of protein, carbs and fats you are need to eat throughout the day you, can fit your favorite snacks into your plan and adjust the other meals around them.
It sounds complicated…
The internet has made life incredibly easy in so many ways. Finding out what your macronutrient ratio for the day is pretty simple. While it is always better to go through a trusted nutritionist or dietitian; there are tools online that can give you a rough estimate. The calculators will ask you a series of questions about your age, sex, activity level, fitness goal, current health status, ect. It then spits out a number of what you should aim for. Pretty easy, right?
The hard part comes in when you decide to actually to eat in a manner that will hit your macro targets each day. This involves knowing which foods fall into which category, and understanding the portions you need to eat at each meal. Then… in order to stick to these goals, you have to set yourself up for success by buying the food, cooking the food and portioning the food to your plan. That’s the real challenge, right there!
We’ve got you!
At GSS we offer customized meal plans that take all this work out of the picture for you. We offer 2 options:
If you have your macro target from a trusted source, for a one-time set up fee we can enter you into our custom meal plan system. Every meal that you order from us will be portioned according to your personal needs.
If you do not know the macros you need to target in order to hit your goals, our staff will create a meal plan customized just for you. There is a one-time set up process in which we will evaluate your current health and survey what your future health goals are. We will then provide you with a general meal plan that can act as a road map for eating. When you order meals from us, all of them will be prepared according to your meal plan.
We work with many types of people to find success in their fitness goals. Whether you are looking to lose weight, gain muscle or train for your next competition, we are here to provide you with an easy solution to fuel your body in a way that works for you. For as many or as little number of meals you’d like each week, we will do the macro math, the cooking, the portioning, the cleanup, and even the delivering! If you would like to become one of our custom clients or would like more details about becoming a custom client, reach out to us at email@example.com and we will be happy to help! As always, just a reminder that we are not doctors here at Grace Savory & Sweet. If you are thinking about implementing a change in your diet, you should always check with a medical professional.