What exactly are Macronutrients and Why You Should Care?
I had a question a couple of days ago from someone. The question was “What are Macronutrients?”
It is a great question and of course I answered, “Carbs, Fats and Proteins” thinking that the person understood what that meant. I was wrong!
As a nutritional consultant, I sometimes think that everyone else knows what I know, but guess what, they don’t and that’s ok. Just like I don’t know the things an ironworker knows, or a mechanic knows, etc. Thank goodness we all have different interests and different knowledge to share with others or the world would be a boring place to be in.
So today I am happy to explain what a macronutrient is and why you should care.
Macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins!
Basically macronutrients are found in foods that we need to consume a lot of in order for our body to function in balance. So in order to explain this, you need to know what a carbohydrate type food is and what it does, what fat type foods are and what they do in your body, and which foods contain protein and why we need protein in our bodies. Each one has a different purpose and we need them all in appropriate amounts in order to maintain a healthy body.
Let’s Talk About Carbohydrates!
Carbohydrates are found in foods that are good for you as well as foods that are not so good for you. You will find Carbohydrates in milk, popcorn, cookies, cakes, potatoes, spaghetti and other pastas, soft drinks, corn, bread, and candy and many other foods. Basically carbohydrates come in the form of sugars, fibers and starches.
There are two types of carbohydrates, Complex Carbohydrates and Simple Carbohydrates. So what is the difference? Complex carbs come from vegetables and don’t spike your blood sugar the way Simple carbs do. Simple carbs are found in all your baked goods, canned soups, etc. Most processed foods contain simple carbs and as they contain a lot of sugar.
Eat these foods that are rich in good carbs:
- Sweet Potatoes (skin on as the extra fibre helps with insulin resistance)
- Brown Rice
- Quinoa https://emilysholistichealthstore.com/products/sprouted-quinoa?_pos=1&_psq=quinoa&_ss=e&_v=1.0
- Bananas (high in potassium and great for heart health, the greener the more fiber)
- Gogi berries https://emilys-holistic-health-store.myshopify.com/admin/products/6871044882602 (high antioxidant)
- Most Green Vegetables such as Spinach, Lettuce, Cucumbers, Green Beans, Green Peas, Arugula, Swiss Chard, Zuchinni.
Avoid these Carbohydrate rich foods
- Potato chips
- Sweetened or flavored yogurt
- Foods high in refined sugar
- White Pasta
- White Bread
- Sugary Cereals
The best thing you can do is consume whole foods in their natural state that nourish your body naturally, rather than processed foods that really give you a bunch of empty calories.
Think about this for a minute, when you eat an apple, do you really feel like you want to eat another one. Usually no. But compare that to a chocolate bar or a cookie, when you eat one, usually you have no problem wanting another and another. These add calories but they really do not satisfy your appetite. They send your blood sugar rocketing and you might feel happy for a few minutes while your brain is sending you feel good messages, but you are adding calories that are really not helping your body in a good way and these types of food are helping trigger inflammation which has been found to be the root causes of most dis-ease.
Note: (I challenge you all to take the apple vs cookie challenge.)
Now Let’s talk about Fats!
There are two types of fats. Trans Fats and Saturated Fats.
- Saturated Fats are found dairy products that include butter, whole milk, cream, whipping cream and cheese. They are found in coconut and palm oil, shortening, cheese, bacon, biscuits, cured meats, pastries like pies, quiches and croissants, coconut milk, coconut cream, chocolate and chocolate spreads, sour cream, milkshakes and icecream too.
So think for a minute, any industrial made Trans Fat like margarine is not really something that is in it’s “natural state” like cream, whole milk, and butter. Which do you think is better for your body?
Good fats, are fats that are monounsaturated (which studies have show to lower our risk of Cardiovascular Disease). These include olive oil https://emilys-holistic-health-store.myshopify.com/admin/products/6870486515882, peanuts, avocado oil, most nuts and seeds. Good fats help support our brains as our brains are made up of over 70% fatty tissue. Good fats help to lubricate our colon and our joints while decreasing inflammation in our bodies. They also help metabolize bad fats that we consume. Good fats also play a role in decreasing the bad lipids helping our hearts function better. In ketogenic diets, good fats become a main source of energy while in a non ketogenic diet, carbohydrates are the main source of fuel.
Industrial fats are trans fats and are not so good for us.
When I think of nature and good fats, I think of olive oil https://emilys-holistic-health-store.myshopify.com/admin/products/6865103552682, olives, lard, coconut oil , avocados, flax oil https://emilys-holistic-health-store.myshopify.com/admin/products/6905994346666 , egg yolks, fatty fish like salmon, sardines, seal oil, whole milk, butter, seeds and nuts https://emilys-holistic-health-store.myshopify.com/admin/products/6869761196202, such as hemp seed oil https://emilys-holistic-health-store.myshopify.com/admin/products/6867628621994 , chia seeds https://emilys-holistic-health-store.myshopify.com/admin/products/6870784475306, peanuts, almond oil, hemp oil https://emilys-holistic-health-store.myshopify.com/admin/products/6865904009386, pumpkin seed oil https://emilys-holistic-health-store.myshopify.com/admin/products/6869761917098, avocado oil, macadamia nuts. Note these are just a few examples.
Now think of fats found in that processed donut, cookie, cake or other dessert or chocolate bar you may have been craving or just ate. Get the message?
I think deep down we all intuitively know what is good for our body and what isn’t. I also believe in many cases we choose to ignore the fact that we actually know that certain foods are not good for us but we still choose to eat them.
STOP: Next time you are about to put something in your mouth, please take a moment and just ask yourself “Is this something that is nourishing my body or is this something that is hindering my body’s effort to repair itself and lead me to optimal health?”
Now Let’s Talk About Protein!
Protein is the building block of every cell in the body. Basically protein is made up of amino acids. Some are essential meaning that the body doesn’t make them in our body so we must source them from the foods we consume and the other are non-essential amino acids.
All you need to know is that foods that contain Amino Acids are meat, chicken, nuts and seeds, beans, lentils, grains like rice, rye, wheat, oats.
Some of the best sources of protein are as follows based on a typical serving:
- Chicken Breast 31 grams
- Canned Tuna 19 grams
- Salmon 19 grams
- Eggs (2) 16-20 grams
- Whole Milk
- Lentils 9 grams
- Peanuts 26 grams
- Part Skim Mozzarella 24 grams
- Low sodium Cottage cheese 12 grams
- Ground Beef 20 grams
- Parmesan Cheese 36 grams
- Chick Peas 8 grams\
- Edamine Beans 12 grams
- Eggs 12 grams
- Shrimp 24 grams
- Greek Yogurt 10 grams
One of the important things to remember is that everyday, we make our own individual choices whether to “feed our health” or to “hinder our health”. Now let that sink in for a minute. Unless you are a child or under the care of someone else, we all “choose” with every mouthful as to what actually enters our bodies.
Totally off topic BUT: You know one thing I found very interesting over the years while studying nutrition was actually something I learned about “anorexia and bulimic disease”. What I learned was that “food” is the one thing that we all have control over. We are individually responsible for what goes into our body and everyday we make the choice of what enters our mouth. We all have the ability to say “No Thank You!” when it comes to food and ultimately choose what we want. We have the control over that. In the cases with people who suffer from anorexia or bulimic disease, they use food as a means of control as they have many times lost their ability to control things in their livesTotally off toptic BUT: You know one thing I found very interesting over the years while studying nutrition was actually something I learned about “anorexia and bulimic disease”. What I learned was that “food” is the one thing that we all have control over.
We are individually responsible for what goes into our body and everyday we make the choice of what enters our mouth.
We all have the ability to say “No Thank You!” when it comes to food and ultimately choose what we want.
We have the control over that. In the cases with people who suffer from anorexia or bulimic disease, they use food as a means of control as they have many times lost their ability to control things in their lives that they once controlled.
One of the important things to remember is that everyday, we make our own individual choices whether to “feed our health” or to “hinder our health”.