Understand Macronutrients and how we can utilise them in our diet
Hello, welcome to the world of macronutrients.
Macronutrients are the essential component to our diet that give us energy
We need macronutrients in large in quantities, unlike micronutrients which we get via macronutrients in small quantities.
The 3 macronutrients are:
Today I am going to talk you through each macronutrient so you are able to understand a bit more about the foods you consume on a daily basis.
Let’s start with fats
-fats are going to make me fat
This is THE most common thing said, but in reality, as long as were having fats in moderation, they WONT make us fat!!
Fats are our main source of energy for day to day life – when youre walking to work, doing house jobs, gardening etc… you are using fats to fuel you – hence why its SO important that we eat them!
As well as this, fats protect vital organs, produce hormones and store fat soluble vitamins.
Now, yes fats are high in calories, to be precise per 1g fat = 9kcal… we will compare this to proteins & carbs later on.
But as I said earlier, don’t let this stop you eating them – WE NEED FATS TO LIVE!
Types of Fats
There’s 3 main types of fats we should look out for
Our healthiest form which we want higher quantities of – unsaturated fats
And the two we need to watch out for – saturated & transaturated
Unsaturated fats are our healthier fats – therefore we want to ensure the majority of our fats come from these forms.
We can break unsaturated fats down even more: monounsaturated & polyunsaturated.
Polyunsaturated are believed to be the healthier of the two, proven to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Unsaturated fats are found in vegetables, nuts, avocado, egg yolks, oily fish such as salmon / mackerel.
When looking at food packaging, we want to look out for PER 100g!! – THIS IS SO IMPORTANT, don’t look per serving!!:
High in fat = >15g per 100g
Low in fat = <4g per 100g
Moving onto Saturated fats, these are hydrogenated, this basically means they have been manufactured, the fats have been hydrogenated to ensure they are kept solid at room temperature.
Examples of these include, pastries, pies, sausages, butter, bacon & biscuits.
Of your total energy intake, just 10% should come from saturated fats – so if you’re consuming 2,000 calories per day, no more than 22g should come from saturated fats.
So again, when looking at food labels we want to look for per 100g!!:
High = >5g per 100g
Low = <2g per 100g
Transaturated fats are a type of saturated fats, and are not actually found on food labels.
These fats are the WORST (completely manufactured / hydrogenated).
Here’s my tip: when your pick up your product in the supermarket, if you made this at home, would it go off before the shop sell by date? If yes, it tends to have transaturated fats in.
A good example of this is Eccles cakes …– pop them back, I see you.
Fats and Exercise
Right, lets talk exercise now.
As previously said, fats fuel our everyday life, however we ALSO use them for exercise as well. Fats are used in low to moderate intensity exercise such as running / cycling.
When we run / cycle, our heart rate is high yes, however because it peaks and stays high (what we call a constant state HR), we use our aerobic energy system which is fuelled from fats.
Protein, makes you big & strong… almost right haha!
Again, we get energy from protein, but unlike fats – 1g protein = 4kcal – MUCH LOWER!!
…now you see why we have fats in moderation?
As well as an energy source, proteins are used to build & repair tissues, make enzymes, hormones & other chemicals.
They’re essential for building muscle mass
And every cell in the human body contains protein, which is why its SO important we replenish these stores.
Protein can also help aid weight loss – protein reduces hunger hormones and boosts satiety hormones – making us feel fuller which can lead to a decrease in calorie intake = calorie deficit = weight loss.
So how much protein do you need?
Well the average person, living a moderate active life should be having roughly 1g protein per kg body weight… 75kg person should consume 75g protein per day to replenish stores and maintain their muscle.
However, if your goal is to increase muscle mass/ get stronger – then its recommended you have 1.5-2g per kg body weight.
Body builders can have up to 4g per kg body weight!!!
Protein and Exercise
An interesting question that gets asked a lot is whether protein is used to fuel exercise – we know fats and carbs are so what about protein? Well the answer to this is NO – and we don’t want it to be.
Protein is needed to maintain & repair tissues – therefore if we used protein for energy, our tissues would become weak.
During exercise however we do breakdown our protein stores, and this is why its ESSENTIAL we replenish these stores after exercise so we can ensure the muscles & tissues are able to recover.
Its suggested you replenish your protein stores 30 minutes – 1 hour post exercise.
Okay were onto our last macronutrient which is carbs!!
Carbohydrates again are used as an energy source, like protein 1g carb = 4kcal.
Also, carbs regulate blood sugar, breakdown fatty acids, spares the use of proteins for energy (as we spoke about before, carbs are used for energy so we don’t have to use proteins).
Carbs also provide dietary fibre and natural sweetener to foods… hence why they’re SO yummy!!
And lastly, all our cells & tissues require carbohydrates, so again its essential we have them in our diet.
Types of Carbs
There are 2 main types of carbs:
Complex carbs are our healthier ones, so we want our carb sources to mainly come from these… with some exceptions which I will come onto later.
Complex carbs are long chains of sugar molecules which are converted to glucose and then used as energy.
As these chains are long, they take longer to breakdown/ digest – this provides more lasting energy…unlike simple carbs and which is why complex are healthier.
Our complex carbs include fibre – found in fruit
Wholegrain / brown foods – breads, rice, pasta etc…
And even nuts!
Okay so simple carbs are shorter chains, therefore quick digesting foods and cause a spike in blood glucose – basically meaning they are a short lasting energy source.
Now the exception I was talking about is that simple carbs can be a very useful source of energy for athletes – top athletes need to be replenishing their carb stores more regularly than anyone else…even during exercise itself as they utilise SO much of it in one go – simple carbs in the form of energy drinks, gels etc are therefore the exception.
Types of simple carbs:
Any food with added sugar
And there are traces in fruit & veg
Carbohydrates and Exercise
Were nearly at the end now
Carbohydrates & exercise – we use carbohydrate stores when we work at moderate to high intensity exercise e.g. HIIT or weight training
These exercises cause our heart rate to fluctuate (meaning were at a non steady state) – this requires our anaerobic energy system to kick in which uses carbohydrates as its fuel.
Keep on Track
I hope this video was useful and provided you with more information on the foods we eat, and why we eat them.
Keep on track, and remember: