Macronutrients. Your introduction to Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats.

A crucial component to staying healthy is the food that you consume, and macronutrients are the building blocks for all diets.

Macronutrients are the nutrients that provide energy in our diets. These are protein, fats or carbohydrates. Basically, all food that we consume fall into these categories, some foods are higher in fats, protein or carbohydrates. At the end of the day, we look at the different ‘macro’ ratios to determine the kind of fuel your body is running on. For examples, diets such as Ketogenic Diets have a higher percentage of fats and are low in carbohydrates, and others focus on having a somewhat balances approach to these three macronutrients.

What does ‘counting macros’ mean?

You may have heard the term ‘counting macros’, some individuals count macros for weight loss, diet quality or to assist with specific goals such as building muscle mass. However, is counting macros really necessary? There is some research that suggests counting macros can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food (Turner, 2019). It is also important to know that the measures of macros are not all that accurate and as such should always be used as a general guide due to inconsistency in reporting along with inaccuracies on food labels and within monitoring programs. Another approach to ensuring you are consuming enough protein, fats, and carbohydrates is to focus on a well-balanced diet of different foods.

There is a myriad of information suggesting different diets that meet certain requirements based on Macronutrients. An important consideration when thinking about these is that every person metabolises carbohydrates, protein or fats differently.

We have developed a short guide below to highlight which foods generally are classed as protein, fat or carbohydrates to support you in cooking well-balanced meals at home.

Carbohydrates

  • Whole-grain bread
  • Whole-wheat pasta
  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Oats
  • Starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes


Fats

  • Avocado
  • Olive and avocado oils
  • Egg yolks
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Butter
  • Fatty fish like salmon and sardines
  • Full-fat dairy


Protein

  • Egg whites
  • Lean meat
  • Poultry such as chicken thighs
  • Shellfish
  • Protein powders
  • Tofu

For more balanced meal ideas, be sure to visit the SiSU Health Recipe Library.

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References:

Turner, P., 2019. The No Need To Diet Book: Become a Diet Rebel and Make Friends with Food. Head of Zeus Ltd.