When talking about nutrition, there are three major macronutrients that make up our diet: carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
These foods play different roles in giving us energy (calories), help shape or grow cells, and aid in keeping us healthy. Depending on how we consume them, either too much of one or not enough of another can be harmful.
This article will discuss some tips for knowing which types of carbs are good, bad, and neutral so you can better manage your carbohydrate intake. We’ll also talk about the difference between fats and oils, and why it is important to know what olive oil is.
We’ll then look at some helpful charts that compare various nutrients and how they affect your body. This way you’re informed as to whether more of certain ones is needed for health or if you have enough already.
Last, we’ll review some recipes and tricks to use each macro ingredient in! These could be making a snack, eating alone time, or even preparation of the food. If you want more information, read on! 🙂
Disclaimer: The info in this article should not be taken as medical advice; instead, it is intended to provide basic nutritional knowledge and meal planning ideas. Consult your doctor before altering any medication, changing diets, or doing anything new. Also remember that no recipe or method has been tested thoroughly without under-going clinical trial.
Eat your macronutrients
All too often, people get hung up on what are referred to as “carbs” or “protein” or even “fat” in and of themselves.
These terms refer not only to foods that make you feel hungry (carbohydrates), help build muscle (proteins) or keep you feeling stable and sleepy (fats), but they also describe how those nutrients are typically categorized when talking about dieting.
Carb diets may be low in carbs, protein diets may be high in protein, and fat-restricted diets can easily become deficient in both vitamins and minerals due to dry mouth and lack of eating enough fruits and vegetables.
This isn’t good for your overall health nor is it helpful when it comes to weight loss.
Tips for eating your macronutrients
When it comes down to it, no matter how well you know us as humans, there is one thing that all of our cells require to thrive: food!
And we need some kind of carbohydrate (bread, pasta, etc.), protein (fish, meat, nuts and/or supplements), and fat (salmon, olive oil, coconut oil) in order to survive.
When I first started learning about nutrition, people would always tell me to eat my carbs, proteins, and fats but never say which types of foods are which. It took me years to figure out what was fact and fiction when it came to nutritional information.
Now that you have more clarity on individual nutrients, you can make better choices for your health and weight loss goals. So here’s an easy way to organize each type of nutrient into its own category. They’re called the “macro-nutrients.
What are they?
A macro- or macronutrient is an element in your diet that provides essential nutrients for growth, maintenance, and disease prevention of body tissues.
Macronutrients include protein, carbohydrate, fat, and water. Nutritionists typically divide up the average daily intake into three major categories, depending on whether the food item is a source (lick meat) or a type (cheese), a ratio (one part milk to one part bread),or a percentage (four percent cheese) of their total weight.
You’ll probably learn this term soon when you start looking at nutrition labels.
The term “macronutrient” comes from the Greek word for large, which makes sense because that is what these nutrients are!
The five major nutrients we talk about as macros are protein, carbohydrates, fat, sodium, and potassium. As you may have noticed, there isn’t much of a difference between “carbohydrate” and “doughy food,” or “protein” and “meats and seafood,” so they get grouped into one category.
That is why it is sometimes referred to as the big three: proteins, carbs, and fats. You will also see the terms omega-3s and omega-6s used to refer to either flaxseed oil or sunflower oil, respectively.
We usually think of vitamins and minerals as essential components of our diets, but many studies show that even limiting yourself to just one of these nutrient groups can help improve your overall health and weight. That is why some foods in any of the other categories can be considered non-essential.
This article will go more in depth about each of these macro types and how different foods contain them, but first let us take a look at some examples.
A helpful way to understand how different foods fit into your diet is by looking at them as pictures. Nutritionists use this term called a food diagram or a food plate. You can create your own food plates or go online and make yours!
You will need to determine the number of servings for each food group per day, depending on your body’s size. The average person needs around 10-12 grams of protein per meal, so that would be one piece of meat or chicken, some nuts, and/or a serving of yogurt. Two cups of fruits and two cups of vegetables are also part of the protein category.
The carbohydrate requirement depends on whether you are eating more than 1,000 calories per day (which is very common these days) or less than 1,500. If the first condition applies, then one cup of either pasta, rice, bread, or cereal satisfies your daily goal. One slice of toast or bagel is always considered a half cup because it takes up a little more space in the jar.
Fat requires no special mention unless you do not like enough of it. We tend to get enough fat from food, but if you are conscious about where your fats come from, then we suggest tracking them all in with your nutrition notebook or diary.