Macro Nutrients - Your Ultimate Guide

When it comes to nutrition, the word “macros” is thrown around quite a bit. So what EXACTLY are macros? Macros are macronutrients, and they are the primary nutrients that make up the food we eat.

All of the calories we eat come from either a carbohydrate, fat, protein, or alcohol. 

  • There are four calories in every gram of carbohydrate.

  • There are four calories in every gram of protein.

  • There are seven calories in every gram of alcohol

  • And there are nine calories in every gram of fat.

Aside from alcohol, the body needs all of these (carbs, protein, and fat) to function as they each have different roles in the body.

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Protein is needed in the body to build and repair tissues, carry oxygen in the blood, and for a healthy immune system. It provides the building blocks for important hormones and digestive enzymes.

Protein is also vital for blood sugar control and keeping you feeling fuller for more extended periods of time. That is why it is recommended that every meal (and snack) should contain some form of protein. 

Fat is needed in our diets to provide us with energy, make and balance hormones, form cell membranes, form our brains and nervous system, transport vitamins, and gives us omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that we can’t make on our own.

Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for our bodies. Carbs are organic molecules typically classified according to their structure: simple and complex. Most of what we eat are complex carbs. Raw table sugar would be a simple carb. However, all carbohydrates we consume are broken down into simple sugars before they’re absorbed by the body, regardless of whether the food source is a simple sugar cube or a high-fibre bowl of oatmeal. 

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The “healthier carbs” are digested and absorbed much slower while the “non-healthy” carbs are digested very quickly. Once carbs are broken down and absorbed, these simple sugars go to the liver to fill energy stores. After that, they enter the bloodstream and other cells of the body. Insulin is then released in reaction to the sugar. A more significant insulin response can be beneficial at certain times (like after an intense workout) and not so helpful at certain times (like before bed).

The general macronutrient ratio guidelines are to have 30% of your diet to be protein, 30% to be healthy fats and 40% to be unrefined, whole carbohydrates. However, these guidelines are general and may vary slightly depending on your body type. 

The main key takeaway is to ensure that you are getting quality sources of all the macronutrient foods in your daily diet. The goal is to eat natural, whole foods. 

What you should do now

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