Disclaimer: Please keep in mind when reading this, I am not a medical doctor and any health decisions should be made with a doctor. This is for educational purposes, for health issues or dietary and medical changes please consult your doctor.
What are macros?
Macros or macronutrients are basis for our diets. They are the main nutrients we need to provide us with energy. Macros break up in to three categories: fats, proteins and carbs. Each person needs to customize the amounts of each category depending on your body type and your goals for your health and wellness. Depending on how you adjust them, you can maximize the benefits for your specific body type. Read more on body types from our post here.
Counting your macros is more of a lifestyle than a diet. Quite frankly I personally don’t like ‘diets’ because as soon as you step off the track, everything falls apart. With managing your macros, you can still enjoy a variety of foods, it just means that you are balancing them best for your body.
Counting macros is far different than counting calories, if you want to learn more on that check out our Counting Macros post coming soon. However, anything that requires you to completely cut one of these three groups (unless medically necessary) is not best for your health and should be avoided.
Let’s dive in to the three different groups.
Carbs are our first and main source of energy. They fuel your brain, muscles and nervous system. Carbs provide and store energy, spare protein & fat for energy and are a source of dietary fibers vital for your digestive health.
The best carbs are whole, natural, minimal processed and high in fiber. Basically what that means foods closest to how they are found in nature or minimally processed. However, refined carbs are heavily processed that have removed most of the nutritional benefits and these should be avoided.
Minimally processed carbs include oatmeal, whole grains, raw or steamed vegetables like broccoli, raw fruits like bananas and beans. There are plenty more, these are just a few examples to steer you in the right direction.
Refined or processed carbs include white breads and tortillas, pizza dough, breakfast cereal, white rice and sweets such as pastries and cakes. The list of refined carbs is long and basically have no nutritional value.
The second source of energy is fats, more specifically healthy fats. Healthy fats store energy, help keep your heart healthy and usually have a great source of vitamins. One of the main benefits is keeping your heart healthy. They help lower risk of disease and stroke, lower blood pressure and balance cholesterol levels.
Let’s stop for a second and if you read anything, read this! All fats are NOT the same.
There are four main types of fats. Saturated, transfats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.
Saturated fats contain a higher proportion of fatty acids, which in turn makes them solid at room temperature. Think of butter or bacon… I know it’s amazing, but so unhealthy! Transfats are the worst fats for you. These are usually artificial fats but can also be found in the guts of some animals or foods from them.. Gross huh? These are found in foods like fried or drive through food, pizza, desserts, refrigerated doughs and shortening.
Monounsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature and found in plant foods. This would include things like nuts or avocados. These are a healthier option. Polyunsaturated fats are a top choice when planning fats for your meal. These include omega-3 and omega-6 fats which are essential for the body. Included here are things such as fatty fish like salmon or sardines, sunflower or corn oils and certain types of nuts like walnuts or flaxseed.
The final source of energy is protein. Protein is vital for building… build muscle, strong bones and healthy skin. It also helps repair tissue when injured. The benefits also include boosting your metabolism and lowering blood pressure, maintaining appetite and helping with weight loss.
Proteins come in many forms. There are lean, minimally processed proteins and processed proteins. Lean proteins include meats like chicken, turkey, venison, seafood and lean beef. Minimally processed proteins would consist of dairy products like milk and Greek yogurt. Processed are the least healthy and include lunch meat and jerky.
To recap, the three categories are first carbohydrates, next fats and finally proteins. To maintain a healthy regimen you need to focus on whole, natural or minimally processed carbs, mono or polyunsaturated fats and lean or minimally processed proteins. With the right balance you can maximize your benefits for your specific body type. If trying to lose weight or gain muscle, check out our post on counting macros coming soon. Also, if you are looking for a list to jump start you check ours out here.