A Simple Breakdown of Macronutrients
Have you been hearing the buzz around “macro counting” and wondering what it’s all about? Well, today, we’re here to let you in on all the details. Essentially, you can break down every type of food into three simple macronutrients (AKA macros) – protein, carbohydrates, and fat. These are the basic nutrients that your body converts into energy, or calories, and they are equally important for a well-rounded nutrition plan.
But, balancing these macronutrients effectively for a healthy diet can be difficult if you don’t know how they work. So, let’s take a closer look at how each of these macronutrients affect your body and how much of them you should be eating daily.
Protein is the essential nutrient for helping your body grow and repair tissues, especially when it comes to building and maintaining muscle mass. When broken down, proteins are turned into amino acids, which are referred to as the building blocks of the body. There are two types of amino acids called essential and non-essential amino acids. The main difference is that your body can produce non-essential amino acids, but it must receive essential amino acids through your diet.
It’s recommended that around 10-35% percent of your daily calories should come from protein. Of course, tracking your macronutrients is the most effective way to see if you’re reaching the right amounts, but a good tip for those who don’t like to micromanage their diet is to fill about a quarter of your plate with lean proteins.
You ensure a proper balance by incorporating foods that are high in protein, such as lean meats like poultry or fish, as well as different kinds of nuts and legumes. Some starchy foods and vegetables may also provide a small amount of protein. 9Round protein bars and protein power are also great options for getting more protein throughout the day, especially after a tough workout at the studio.
In the very confusing world of dieting, carbohydrates are often treated like the ultimate super villain, but they’re actually one of the most important parts of a healthy diet. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, which is the main source of energy for your entire body, and the most important resource for certain organs to function properly, such as your brain.
It’s good to understand the two main types of carbohydrates, which are simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are easier for your body to digest and convert into energy, and they can often be identified by the sensation of sweetness. Some examples of foods that provide simple carbohydrates are honey, sugar, syrup, milk, yogurt, and fruit.
Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are harder for your body to digest. These tend to be more on the savory side, representing foods like brown rice and whole grain pasta or bread. Most complex carbohydrates, unless they have been heavily processed, also contain a lot of fiber, which is a unique carbohydrate that helps rid your body of waste and regulates your intestinal track.
You should aim to consume 45-65 percent of your daily calories from carbohydrates. This can be accomplished by including things like pasta, brown rice, whole wheat bread, fruit, and starchy vegetables in your meals. Again, if you don’t want to track every macronutrient on a daily basis, you can make sure your plate is roughly halfway full of healthy, whole grain carbohydrates at each meal.
Fats, or lipids, are considered the most energy-rich macronutrient in the bunch, but they’re also one of the more complicated ones to understand. This is because there are both good and bad types of fats.
Saturated fats and trans fatty acids (trans fats) are the negative types of fat you can consume. They are associated with numerous negative health effects, including heart disease. This is why it’s important to monitor how much saturated or trans fats you’re consuming with your diet, so you can prevent a buildup of these unhealthy fats. Unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats), in comparison, may actually help to reduce the risk of some diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.
You should aim to get 20 to 35 percent of your daily calories from fats or lipids. Since fats tend to be more calorically dense compared to proteins or carbohydrates, you only need a small amount of them in your diet. They will also take longer for your body to digest, which is why you should always eat slowly and take time to enjoy your meals. You can incorporate more healthy fats into your diet with things like vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and fish.
If you’re ready to kickstart your new healthy lifestyle, then come try 9Round today with a FREE Introductory Workout at your local studio! While you’re there, our Champion Trainers will tell you more about the perks of becoming a member, like our top-of-the-line kickboxing-style workouts and our 9Round Nutrition Guide!
This is not medical advice. Please speak with your doctor regarding any health concerns and before starting a new workout routine. This article was written in conjunction with our certified 9Round Exercise and Nutrition Specialist, MacKenzie Rowand, CSCS, NASM-CNC.