Macronutrients are carbohydrates, protein and fats. It is recommended that adult woman consume 2000 calories a day and adult men closer to 2500 daily.
The definition of a calorie is ‘the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water through 1 degree centigrade’. The obsession with calorie counting in the dieting world is where a lot of our problems start.
Calories are not as important as we were once led to believe. What is more important is how food molecules act within the human body. Our bodies like to run on glucose, which is broken down carbohydrates (essentially sugar), our bodies are able to get energy out of carbohydrates very easily and we break this food group down fast. Proteins and fats require a bit more work from the body. When the body has to work for its energy source, its better for your health. Eating fat doesn’t make you fat. Eating simple carbohydrates is what leads to weight gain. The first step to a leaner you is to stop being afraid of fat. We will all have noticed how an evening meal containing meats and vegetables is much more satisfying than the sandwich or handful of lettuce that passes for a salad at lunch. This is the protein and the fat keeping your appetite satisfied.
Eating a diet of just fat and protein is very acidic to your body and this can be detrimental to your health, unpleasant side effects can accompany this extreme way of eating, including the breakdown of muscle mass.
As always, moderation is key. Following an eating plan with a ratio of 40% protein, 30% fat and 30% carbohydrates gives a good balance. Providing you are getting these macro nutrients from the correct sources, you should see an improvement in your muscle mass, metabolism and energy levels.
Carbohydrates are generally where the problem lies, people tend to chose simple, processed, sugary. ‘diet’ or low fat foods. Making up the 30% of your carbohydrate intake with vegetables, some fruit and complex carbohydrates will aid in keeping your sugar intake at a minimum.
Reading the label is very important when watching your macro nutrient intake. something to look out for- underneath the total carbohydrate value- sugars. Try and eat foods that have less than 6g of sugar per serving.
|100g Beef steak||300||30g Protein, 10g Fat|
|100g Chicken||100||20g Protein, 2g fat|
|100g Lamb||300||28g protein, 10g fat|
|85g Oily Fish||170||20g protein, 6g fat|
|80g White Fish||80||18g protein, 1g fat|
|Nuts||6 per nut||1g protein, 1g fat|
|125g Lentils||120||10g protein, 1g fat|
|125g Beans and pulses||120||8g protein, 1g fat|
|170g Quinoa||500||25g protein, 10g fat|
|1 Egg||80||7g Protein, 6g fat|
|100g Cheese||400||25g protein, 30g fat|
|Whole Milk/ Yoghurt||150||8g protein, 8g fat|
|Vegetable family||Calories (average)||Breakdown|
|Green leafy||6||1g carbohydrates|
|Bean/ pods||60||11g carbohydrates|
|Complex carbohydrates||Calories (average)||Breakdown|
|Brown Rice||110||22g carbohydrates|
|Wholewheat Bread||70||15g carbohydrates|
|Simple carbohydrates||Calories (average)||Breakdown|
|White Rice||200||45g Carbohydrates|
|White Bread||140||30g carbohydrates|
From the tables it is clear that complex carbohydrates are lower in calories and sugar content than the simple carbohydrates. Vegetables are lower than the complex carbohydrates. The fibre in vegetables are also great for filling you up and carrying any fat you have activated whilst exercising out of the body.
When planning your main meals, always start with a protein (can be from a vegetarian source) and pair it with vegetables. Snacks can just be protein, but never just carbohydrates (e.g. fruit). If you would like fruit it needs to be paired with a protein.
Meal ideas with a good macronutrient balance
- Green salad (lettuce, spinach, kale, broccoli, cucumber, avocado, tomato, peppers, papaya, pineapple- be creative). Add protein of your choice- grilled chicken, mackerel, tuna, sardines, prawns, beef strips, lentils, beans, hard boiled egg, pine nuts, chickpeas, quinoa, olive oil salad dressing
- Loaded soups- soups full of protein and vegetables e.g. Bacon and lentil, Chicken and vegetable, potato leek and lentil, clam chowder, Butternut and almond, Minestrone, oxtail. Home made or bought in a carton/ box
- Grilled chicken / fish with steamed vegetables
- Bean Bolognese made with mixed beans, carrots, mushrooms, onions and chopped tomatoes served with brown basmati rice or quinoa
- Chicken stir fry including lots of vegetables (lightly fried in olive oil with tablespoon of water)
- Baked / steamed fish with a baked sweet potato and green vegetables
- Vegetable omelette or baked avocado with egg