In a general sense, macronutrients provide all the necessary calories that are needed for you to perform your daily activities. Each one of these macronutrients has a its own effect on your body, and when deciding on which ones to eat you must consider what effect it will have on your body composition and how your going to feel day to day.
Some of the many ways macronutrients can affect the processes in our body, are;
1. Our ability to digest our food and absorb nutrients
2. Hormone production
3. Immune health
4. Cell structure and function
5. Body composition
6. Metabolic function
Each macronutrient has its own special number of calories that are associated with each gram that is consumed.
Protein: 4 calories per gram
Carbohydrate: 4 calories per gram
Fat: 9 calories per gram
As you can probably see fat grams have more than double the amount of calories that are associated with just 1 gram of macronutrient that is consumed! This becomes real important when you start to plan out different meals and this can play a big factor when you start to construct your meals around recommended amounts of each macronutrient.
To make things simple, a Carbohydrate is a molecule that breaks down in to 3 different sub groups of saccharides(sugar) depending on their level of complexity.
We need glucose to live. Tissues such as our brain and red blood cells, which can't make their own glucose, need an ample supply of it on a daily basis. It is important to understand that our body needs a certain amount of glucose and that glucose can come from a variety of sources.
There is no single "best" diet. There is no "correct" amount of carbohydrates that is the same for everyone, all the time. Carbohydrate intake will have multiple factors such as:
1. How big or small someone is
2. How much lean mass or body fat a person has
3. How active they are
4. How intense, long-lasting, and/or frequent that activity is
5. How old they are, and what stage of life they are at
6. Intake levels of other macronutrients
As you see above, when it comes to carbohydrate intake, everyone's intake will vary. A small percentage of people do well with less than average carbohydrates in their diet, another small percentage will function best with more than average carbohydrates in their diet. Most people are somewhere in the middle, doing best with moderate portions of carbohydrates in their diet that come from good sources.
THE BIG PICTURE
While its important to learn about all the ins and outs of each carbohydrate type, keep in mind that carbohydrates play an important role in your body composition, health and performance.
1. Humans evolved eating a varied and seasonal diet. We thrive best on a mix of carbohydrate types that occur naturally in different types of foods
2. Most of the time, we want relatively slower-digesting, higher-fiber carbohydrates
3. We easily get these types of carbohydrates if we choose a wide selection of diverse, whole, less-processed foods
4. Occasionally, faster-digesting, lower-fiber carbohydrates can be helpful, particularly for athletes or people looking to gain weight
5. The nervous system relies heavily on glucose, so much so that large drops in glucose levels can cause failures in brain function
6. Carbohydrates are the preferred source of energy for high intensity or high volume physical activity. Repetitive exertions of over 30% of the muscle’s maximum contraction force rely primarily on carbohydrates, particularly muscle glycogen
7. Consuming carbohydrates is an extremely powerful means of preventing muscle loss. Carbohydrates provide an energy source that prevents the breakdown of tissue for fuel. Elevations in blood glucose resulting from carbohydrate consumption lead to the secretion of insulin which is a highly anabolic hormone
8. Energy production, nervous system demands, and recovery for endurance training is best addressed through carbohydrate consumption.
Carbohydrates are not all created equal. While they all meet the same fate in our body, the process by which they end up as glucose is different. This will create different effects on the body.
Come from whole-food sources like vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains tend to keep us feeling full longer. They also travel with passengers: Micronutrients, Phytonutrients, Fiber and Water - maybe some proteins and healthy fats. These carbohydrates keep our blood sugar stable, releasing energy gradually.
These simple, refined, highly processed carbohydrates digest quickly but tend to leave us feeling unsatisfied. They've been stripped of their nutrients and their passengers are usually high amounts of sodium along with industrial chemicals such as flavorings, trans fats or preservatives. They stimulate our appetite and leave us wanting more. They can cause fluctuations in our blood sugar and insulin levels.
45 - 65% of ones daily caloric intake should come from carbohydrates BUT there are special scenarios where an individual will do better on a very low allotment of carbohydrates in their daily recommendation. Outside of special considerations for carbohydrates in a particular nutrition plan, you should start by figuring out protein and fat recommendations and carbohydrates should fill the leftover calories. Your carbohydrate recommendation will be based off what your current body composition and wellness goals are.
Endurance based training (Aerobic): 3.6g - 4.5g per lb of bodyweight or 8g -10g per kg of bodyweight.
Strength based training (Anaerobic): 2.2g - 2.8g per lb of bodyweight or 5g -6g per kg of bodyweight.
Interval based training (Anaerobic): 2.2g - 2.8g per lb of bodyweight or 5g -6g per kg of bodyweight.
Proteins are large molecules made of smaller molecules that are called amino acids. Proteins
make up many of the tissues in the human body and comprise enzymes that assist cellular reactions
and engage in most functions in the body at some level. Human proteins are comprised of 20 amino
acids, of which our bodies can produce 11 on its own. The other nine amino acids must be
ingested through our diet.
THE BIG PICTURE
Proteins are essential for our health but they also play an important role in our body composition, health and performance such as:
1. Humans evolved eating a varied and seasonal diet. We thrive best on a mix of amino acids that occur naturally in different types of foods.
2. Our body needs and loves different sources of protein that will provide us with different essential amino acids.
3. Because of amino acids are the building blocks of our cells and because the most essential amino acids are only received through food, protein proves to be the most important macronutrient for our body.
4. Proteins are mostly responsible for muscle mass. Actin, Myosin, Titin, and Nebulin are key proteins that assist in contracting muscle fibers.
5. Protein from the diet helps replenish muscle protein that is broken down to assist in daily functions as we burn all available carbohydrates.
6. Protein intake is anti-catabolic as it helps maintain muscle mass.
7. Eating more protein has also been shown to increase satiety(the feeling of fullness) for a longer period of time than carbohydrates and fats.
8. Raising protein intake can make dieting easier and enhance weight loss is obese individuals, directly improving health.
9. Although endurance sports such as marathons and triathlons do not require large muscle masses, the extremely high volumes and energy demands of these sports will often exceed the immediate availability of carbohydrate and fat stores. In this case proteins must be used for energy to meet the energy demands of the particular training session when carbohydrate and fat stores have been depleted. Since muscle fibers are stressed during such high volume training, protein turnover can be elevated and a greater amount of protein should be consumed to compensate for the protein turnover.
10. Protein needs on a hypocaloric diet are elevated because of the rate of catabolism. Consuming less calories that are needed in one day will facilitate weight loss but also the breakdown of lean tissue. Elevated protein will help preserve lean tissue during the weight loss phase of a nutrition plan.
.36g per lb of bodyweight or .8g per kg of bodyweight. This recommendation can be anywhere from 15 - 35% of your total caloric intake. My recommendation on setting protein goals will be the same as they are with carbohydrates. Your protein recommendation will be set based on your current body composition and wellness goals.
Endurance based training: .54g - .63g per lb of bodyweight or 1g - 1.6g per kg of bodyweight.
Strength based training: .63g - .81g per pound of bodyweight or 1.4g -1.7g per kg of bodyweight.
Interval based training: .72g -.81g per pound of bodyweight or 1.6g - 1.7g per kg of bodyweight
Fats are important part of your diet but some types are healthier than others. Choosing healthy fats from vegetable sources more often than less healthy types from animal products can help lower your risk for heart attack, stroke, and other major health problems.
THE BIG PICTURE
Fats are essential for our health but they also play a very important role in our body composition and health.
1. We thrive best on a mix of fat types that occur naturally in different types of foods.
2. We want a relatively equal balance of fat types in our daily diet.
3. When possible, getting fish and animal products that are wild caught or pasture raised provides improved fatty acid profiles. 4. Ty to minimize or eliminate refined and processed foods containing industrially produced fats and artificially hydrogenated fats.
5. The production of testosterone and estrogen rely in part, on fat intake and both of these hormones are critical to muscle gain, muscle retention, and nearly all performance adaptations. 6. Keeping fat intake higher on a hypocaloric diet can mean a higher flexibility in food choices. This can result in better adherence and thus success.
7. Fats occupy less space in the stomach, so that eating more calories from fat can make a hypercaloric diet more comfortable.
8. Fats are tasty and easy to add to food, making eating more food easier and more fun.
9. Essential fats, like essential amino acids, are critical to our survival and health but cannot be made by our body so we have to get them through our diet.
Because of the chemical nature of saturated fats, packed tightly with hydrogens, they tend to be solid at room temperature.
We find saturated fats in foods such as:
1. Beef and Pork
3. Full-Fat dairy
An unsaturated fat is a fat or fatty acid in which there is one or more double bond in the fatty acid chain. A fat molecule is monounsaturated if it contains one double bond, and polyunsaturated if it contains more than one double bond. Where double bonds are formed, hydrogen atoms are eliminated. These fats tend to be liquid at room temperature. We find unsaturated fats in foods such as:
2. Nuts and nut butters
3. Soy, canola and olive oils
Your body needs polyunsaturated fats to function. This type of fat helps with muscle movement and blood clotting. Since your body doesn’t make it, you have to get it in your diet. Polyunsaturated fats can be further divided into two types: omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
These fats can be beneficial to heart health and can be responsible for:
1. Dilate our blood vessels
2. Lower inflammation
3. Prevent blood clots
These fats can be found in:
1. Fatty fish
2. Ground flax and flaxseed oil
3. Chia seeds
These fats can protect against cardiovascular disease and can be responsible for:
1. Constricting blood vessels
2. Increasing inflammation
3. Causing blood clots
These fats can be found in:
1. Soybean oil
2. Sunflower oil
3. Walnut oil
Monounsaturated fats can help improve your cholesterol levels and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. It may also help you control your insulin levels and blood sugar.
Foods that contain monounsaturated fats are:
1. Olive oil
2. Peanut oil
3. Canola oil
20 - 35% of your daily recommended calories should come from fat. As I said with protein and carbohydrates, depending on your own body composition and wellness goals, your daily fat intake will vary.
20 - 50% of your daily recommended calories should come from fat. As with sedentary individuals your fat intake will be set based on your own body composition and wellness goals.