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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.

Protein Calories (average) Breakdown
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
Brassica 30 7g carbohydrates
Nightshade 15 3g carbohydrates
Root 60 12g carbohydrates
Green leafy 6 1g carbohydrates
Bean/ pods 60 11g carbohydrates
Beets 40 8g carbohydrates
Mushrooms 10 2g carbohydrates

 

Complex carbohydrates Calories (average) Breakdown
Brown Rice 110 22g carbohydrates
Wholewheat Bread 70 15g carbohydrates
Oats 100 20g 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

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