Can focussing on macro’s help you eat healthier?
Learn everything you need to know about macros here!
What are macros?
Macro’s refer to the three main macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein and fat. Macro means big and so it follows that we need to consume these in much larger amounts than compared to micronutrients such as Vitamin C.
The macro’s are what we in the biz call energy yielding nutrients – they are the fuel our body requires so that it can function optimally.
Why do people count Macros?
In the fitness and weights world macros have always been quite trendy. A common thing that many bodybuilders do is count their macros. By sticking to certain percentages of carbs, protein and fats they can produce results they desire. This is because these macros work in different ways to fuel the body. Carbohydrates are a quick source of energy however large amounts can lead to weight gain – great for gaining mass. Protein supports muscle growth and maintenance and helps you feel full – great for helping you get leaner. Fats provide energy, help absorb micronutrients, keep you feeling full and help your brain work optimally – helps you gain mass and potentially burn fat (ie ketogenic diet).
Some people who follow macro diets may be religiously weighing their foods daily. They may be preoccupied with the macro content of their food instead of the taste and pleasure of eating.
The problem with this way of eating means that the focus is less on the enjoyment and nourishment of foods but instead on counting macronutrients. This could potentially lead to disordered eating.
You may also be missing out on a variety of micronutrients. Many of these macro diets are made up by unqualified trainers or bloggers, often extremely and unnecessarily high in protein and potentially harmful. For example, I met someone that was given a meal plan to follow before a competition. The meal plan was high in lean protein and included green vegetables. Sounds healthy right? Unfortunately the meal plan contained three meals of barramundi every day for a week, salad veggies and green beans.
Training every day, this person could not eat another fish in their life but also felt exhausted and irritable- no wonder! Eating fish, especially barramundi, in these amounts could also be potentially damaging to health due to the high mercury levels.
Another worry is, those without nutrition knowledge may eat nutritionally empty but energy dense foods as a meal or large snack as they ‘fit within their macros’. For example, lollies and ice cream. High in carbs and fat but have minimal other nutritional benefits.
As you may have guessed… if not done correctly, eating like this continuously and focussing on macronutrients could have negative health outcomes.
By paying attention to what you eat you can help yourself lose or maintain weight and control your blood sugar and hunger levels. Eating adequate amounts of protein, fats and carbohydrates can help you achieve these goals.
For best results always keep in mind that you are eating food, not macronutrients. Once you learn what carbs, fats and protein are found in, then just focus on balancing your meals to include appropriate amounts of each and remember to get your 5 serves of veggies in every day!
A great resource is the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines/australian-guide-healthy-eating. For reduced risk of chronic diseases they recommend 20–35% of total energy intake from fat, 45–65% from carbohydrate and 15–25% from protein.
Some examples of whole foods and their macronutrients (you will notice some double up)
- Legumes & pulses
- Protein powders
- Cereals like oats
- Breads, pasta and noodles
- Starchy vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Nuts and seeds
You will soon find that getting this trifecta of macros right will become second nature when putting together meals!
If you have any other questions regarding macros and when/how you should balance your diet please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org