Ultimate Guide to Macronutrients
by Becca Brown on Nov 08, 2022
The Ultimate guide to Macronutrients (Macros)
What are macronutrients?
It’s likely that you have come across the term macronutrients before. It is brought up a lot, especially in terms of losing weight or healthy eating. calculating and tracking macros.
Macros are macronutrients. Macro means large, so indicates that we need these in larger quantities in order to function optimally.
There are three types of macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
- Carbohydrates contain 4 kcal per gram
- Protein contains 4 kcal per gram
- Fats contain 9 kcal per gram
In addition to providing energy, all of these macronutrients have specific roles and functions in the body.
Additionally, by knowing our genetic sensitivity to carbohydrates, fats and protein - you can be guided further as to how you might proportion your meals. Check out our DNA nutrition test here to find out more about this.
All carbohydrates are eventually broken down into glucose, which is the main energy source for your body.
In fact, specific organs, such as your brain, need glucose in order to function properly.
Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that cannot be broken down by your GI tract. Therefore, this nutrient does not give you energy, but it does help rid your body of waste, keeping your intestinal tract healthy and supporting your gut health.
Carbohydrates are not all created equally. Some are considered simple carbohydrates and others are complex.
Simple carbohydrates are easy for your body to breakdown for energy or glucose. They have 1-2 sugar molecules and are found in items that are usually sweet such as honey, table sugar, syrup, agave nectar, molasses, milk/yogurt, and fruit.
Complex carbohydrates take more time for your body to breakdown. They are long strands of sugar molecules strung together and typically have a savoury taste. They are found in foods such as starches and grains: rice, pasta, bread, and starchy vegetables (potatoes, peas, sweetcorn).
Protein allows your body to grow, build and repair tissues, and protect lean body mass (your muscle mass).
Protein is composed of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. There are 2 types of amino acids: non-essential and essential. Non-essential amino acids are not required to be consumed through the diet as your body can actually make these.
Essential amino acids are required through your diet. Essential amino acids can either be used on their own or in some cases they are transformed into a non-essential amino acid.
Protein rich foods include meat, poultry, fish, egg, milk, cheese and other animal-derived products. You can also get the proper amino acids from eating a variety of plant protein sources such as beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and soy as well as lower amounts in grains, vegetables, and fruits.
Fat often gets a bad rep because it is the highest in calories - and certain types of fat such as trans fats are not good for us. However, if you focus on the type and amount of fat, it is instrumental to a healthy diet.
The recommended amounts of these different macronutrients are usually referred to as macronutrient split. A good place to start is using the USDA recommendations:
- Carbohydrates: 45-65%
- Protein: 10-35%
- Fat: 20-35%
Overall, these are considered healthy, but different combinations can help you achieve different goals.
Each individual may thrive at different percentages, so what works for one person may not work for all. The key to knowing this? Take a one-time DNA test to find out here.