THE BASICS ON MACRONUTRIENTS
Macronutrients (Macros) are the building blocks for the food you consume. More commonly known as fat, protein, and carbohydrates (and alcohol), these elements of your food combine to produce the calories your body needs to function every day.
Understanding macros may come easily to many (certainly not to me) and for others, it can be a tricky concept to wrap their head around. This is because simply eating 100 grams of chicken breast doesn’t mean you’re just getting 100 grams of pure protein into your diet. Rather, it contains a little of each macronutrient. You’re actually consuming roughly 30 grams of protein and 3.6 grams of fat. In the same respect, 100 grams of sourdough bread will give you 2.4 grams of fat, 52 grams of carbohydrates, and 11 grams of protein.
The macros you should be fitting into your diet absolutely depends on you. It depends on your body, your goals, and your lifestyle.
Carbs, protein and fat. What are they?
Let’s start with carbohydrates. When most people think of carbs, things such as potato, bread, pasta, rice and other wheat or grain-based foods come to mind. Carbohydrates are the preferred source of energy for our body and in this regard, they should actually make up a significant portion of your diet.
Good sources of carbs are found in all plant-based foods and include:
Beans and legumes like baked beans, chickpeas, and lentils.
Grainy food like bread, pasta, oats, and rice.
Starch heavy vegetables like potato, corn, and pumpkin.
Natural sweeteners like raw sugar and honey.
Get the right carbs into your body
So carbs are good for you. That's great! But don’t go diving into a Woolies mud cake just yet. It’s important that you get the right carbs into your diet. When you’re eating bread, choose wholegrain options for that fibre kick. Make sure you get a good selection of five vegetables and two fruits every day. Organic, if you’re able to source it too.
Rest assured that it’s ok to reward yourself with cake and other sweets or treats from time to time. Just keep your portions to smaller amounts.
Protein is essential for building and repairing muscle, building organs, and producing chemicals like hormones. Protein isn’t actually limited to meat and fish, though. There are so many other dairy or vegetarian options that provide this macronutrient for your diet (and they taste amazing!).
Good sources of protein can include:
Meat, fish, and poultry.
Beans and legumes
Seeds (chia seeds are FULL of protein).
Soy and tofu.
What you should be looking for from your protein sources
If you’re out shopping for meat and you would like to make a healthy decision, go for a leaner cut of meat. Also, try to have fish or seafood a couple of times a week. If you’re buying canned fish, pass on the oil-based marinades and elect for water-based. It’s also a good idea to consider buying grass fed beef as it’s likely to be more nutrient-rich than grain fed beef
There are actually such things as good fats. The role that these good fats play in your diet is critical to your health. Good fats help with energy, protect your organs, assist with storage of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) and other minerals and also supports sexual hormone and growth production.
There are two types of fat. The good type of fat is unsaturated fat. This can be found in the following foods:
Vegetable oils (like olive oil)
The second kind of fat, the bad kind, is saturated fat. Saturated fat comes from
Highly processed oils like coconut oil and canola. and treat foods like cake.
Trans fat - which should be avoided.
How much of each should you be eating?
The quantity of calories you consume from the food you eat and the macronutrient combination depends entirely on your body, lifestyle, and goals.
bodybuilding.com has recommended a general rule of thumb as follows:
High-carb (for bodybuilding)
40% -60% carbohydrates
25% -35% protein
16% - 25% fat
Moderate-carb (for maintenance)
30% - 50% carbohydrates
25% - 35% protein
25% - 35% fat
Low-carb (for fat loss)
10 - 30% carbohydrates
40% - 50% protein
30% - 40% fat
Many also follow an 80-20 rule whereby 80% of your diet is wholesome foods. Australian Dietary Guidelines say that eating 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit every day will help ensure you’re getting the right macronutrients into your body. The remaining 20% is at your discretion - provided it fits into your calorie target.
It’s important to also give yourself some flexibility to enjoy a treat every now and then as well. This makes your commitment to reaching your macronutrient goals much more sustainable.
Where you can find out more
At Charlie Cheesecaker, we're not nutritionists by any stretch so we recommend you do your research and speak to the professionals. To get started, The National Health and Medical Research Council has some fabulous material on getting the right macronutrient balance and a general calculator for macronutrient intake.
Nutritionix also has an awesome database and app which provide the breakdown for most of the ingredients we use in our cooking.