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MACRONUTRIENTS: An Overview

MACRONUTRIENT BREAKDOWN.

If you are overwhelmed with understanding calories, caloric balance and ‘macros’, seeing them on instagram stories everyday without a CLUE what they are - look no further. Here's a VERY simple and brief overview!



Calories are very basically energy. You need calories, or “energy in” to do absolutely anything, be it reading a book or walking to the shops. Hence, ensuring we are consuming adequate calories for our body type is extremely important. Calories are made up of macronutrients and micronutrients. We primarily need to look at the macros, though, micros are also vital.

Macronutrients are split into 3 major groups; carbohydrates, proteins and fats.


Energy balance - losing/gaining or maintaining weight is dependent on something we call ‘energy balance’.


If you are consuming more calories than you burn (energy in is more than energy out) then you will gain weight. = in a caloric surplus. The extent of that surplus depends on your goals and your specific caloric needs.


If you are consuming the same amount of calories that you are burning (energy in is equivalent to energy out), your weight will stay the same (though there will be daily fluctuations, e.g water weight) = maintenance calories.


If you are consuming less calories than you are burning (energy out is higher than energy in), you will lose weight = caloric deficit. Again, the extent of the deficit will depend on your goals and specific caloric needs.



Protein:

  • contains 4 calories of energy per gram.

  • It is a vital macronutrient that makes up a large amount of the body's tissue, including an individual's hair, skin, nails, bones and muscles.

  • Protein also controls homeostasis and can also be used for fuel, however this is not the body's preferred source of energy.

  • Proteins are made up of smaller units called amino acids, which upon consumption, protein is broken down, re-ordered and then re-built back up into proteins that are usable for the body. They are for this reason known as muscle “building blocks”.

  • Examples of protein: whey protein, chicken, lean 5% mince, fish such as cod/salmon/tuna (cheap and easy), fage 0% fat yoghurt.


Carbohydrates:

  • have 4 calories per gram of energy.

  • Carbohydrates are the preferred source of energy for your brain, thus they have a role of fuelling your brain.

  • A second role of carbohydrates within the body is to provide energy, particularly for high intensity activities such as weightlifting and sprinting, by virtue of carbohydrates being broken down into glucose.

  • Examples: rice, pasta, fruit, potato/sweet potato, bread, sugar


Fats

  • Contain 9 calories per gram of fat.

  • Fats are necessary to a person's diet because they constitute the majority of the CNS and spinal cord, obviously vital for bodily control.

  • Fats provide protection to the internal organs and brain which may help avoid serious long term illnesses, such as cracking a skull and having the brain protected from damage.

  • Fats play an important role with facilitating, transporting, storage and use of vitamins A, D, E and K.

  • Finally, fats act as a primary fuel source for low intensity activities, such as that of which we do on a daily basis, like walking or getting out of bed.

  • Necessary for hormone regulation, particularly for women.

  • Examples: oily fish such as salmon, avocado, cheese, dark chocolate, nuts and seeds.


**Schoenfeld, B., and research supporting suggests a MINIMUM of 1g of fat per kg of bodyweight for maximising hypertrophy**

If you’re feeling lethargic all of the time, you may need to increase your fat goal for optimal brain function and bodily regulation.


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