The three macronutrients (macros) that the body needs are carbohydrates, fats and proteins. The body needs these in relatively large amounts to provide the calories (or energy) that we need to function. Personally, I am a big fan of carbs (I don’t have much of a sweet tooth but could happily eat pasta all day), but all three play essential roles in a healthy diet.
Carbohydrates (or carbs)
Carbs are the body’s main source of energy. Carbs have been demonised by certain diets, but it is very important to consume adequate carbs otherwise you will be left feeling lethargic and will be more likely to snack on unhealthy foods. Not all carbs are created equal, and slow releasing, complex carbohydrates (e.g. sweet potatoes) are typically better for us than simple carbohydrates (e.g. refined sugar). Complex carbs are different from simple carbs in that they’re made up of longer chains of sugars. Because of this, they take more time to break down which allows for a more gradual release of energy. Complex carbs also contain fibre, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients in addition to providing energy in the form of calories.
Good sources of carbohydrates include:
· whole grains;
· whole fruits; and
I set out information about protein in a previous blog post, but basically proteins are essential for repairing body tissues, and are required for a healthy functioning immune system and for manufacturing hormones. Proteins are made from amino acids, 9 of which our body cannot synthesise itself and therefore must be obtained through our diet.
It is important to include plant based sources of protein into your diet, but, as discussed in my other blog post, it is a myth that we need to go overboard on the plant based protein to compensate for the lack of animal products - meat eaters often consume far too much protein!
Good sources of proteins include:
· seeds; and
Another macronutrient that has a bad reputation is fat (why is it only protein that has been bigged up?! I wonder if it is anything to do with animal agriculture advertising campaigns… but I digress). Fats are an essential part of a healthy diet. Now, not all fat is good fat. Saturated and trans fats may increase your risk of heart disease. Unsaturated fats, on the other hand, increase the “good” HDL cholesterol in our bodies which helps protect against heart disease.
Good sources of fats include:
· avocados; and
It is essential to incorporate healthy sources of all macronutrients into your diet. The ratios may vary depending on your goals, but typical ranges are as follows: 45–65% of your daily calories from carbs, 20–35% from fats and 10–35% from protein.
We will be going into goal specific macros in a separate blog post with a guide on how best to calculate yours.