So you’ve made the move to counting your macros or you are thinking about it, which is a great start to a healthier, leaner, stronger, you! You’ve heard the words: carbs, protein, fat – all sound familiar, in fact, at 80/20, we give you the macros break of each meal….but what exactly are they are why are they important? Let’s chew the fat.
Carbohydrates are one of three main types of nutrients. They are possibly the single most important source of energy for your body. Why? Because your digestive system changes carbohydrates into glucose also known as your blood sugar. That’s why, when we hear you’re going on a ‘no carb diet’, me might politely suggest otherwise.
Carbs have a bad reputation amongst the diet industry, but they are crucial as your body uses this sugar for energy for your cells, tissues and organs. Crucially, carbs are stored as extra sugar in your liver and muscles for when it is needed most.
Simple and complex
Carbohydrates are often broken down into called simple or complex, and this is dependant upon on their chemical structure.
Simple carbohydrates include sugars found naturally in foods such as fruits, milk, and milk products as well as table sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc. They also include sugars added during food processing and refining. These are often regarded as ‘bad’ carbs and are recommended to keep to a minimum.
Complex carbohydrates include whole grain bread and cereals, starchy vegetables and beans. Many of the complex carbohydrates are good and are recommended for a healthy, balanced diet.
Do I need carbohydrates?
Yes, you do! Without them, your body will use protein inefficiently for your energy instead of using it what it’s meant for; growth and repair of muscle tissue.
Proteins are the building blocks of life. Every cell in the human body contains protein. Your body needs protein in order to help your body repair cells and make new ones.
Amino acids, which make up protein, are found in sources such as meat, milk, fish, and eggs. They are also found in plant-based sources such as soybeans, legumes, nut butter, and grains (such as wheat germ and quinoa).
Do I need protein?
Absolutely! Without it, your body is not able to sufficiently grow and repair cells. You won’t be building much muscle without enough protein in your diet.
Fat serves many important roles in the body at the cellular level. It’s important for heart health and an essential source of energy. There are 2 main types of fatty acids (FA’s): Omega 3 FA’s & Omega 6 FA’s. We get plenty of omega 6 fats from vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower and soybean oil. We get omega 3 fats from oily fish like salmon, herring, mackerel and other sources like flax, walnuts and chia seeds.
The difference is big between the 2 though – omega 6 fats are pro-inflammatory and omega 3 fats are anti-inflammatory. The population as a whole eats too much of one and not enough of another – can you guess which?
The ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 should be about 4:1 at the very least (but we would recommend a ratio os 2:1) in order for your body to function optimally. The reality is that the western diet has a ratio of about 15:1. This is thought to be one of the reasons for increased heart disease, cancer and various autoimmune.
Do I need fat?
Yes! Fat is certainly an important component to our cells and provides the necessary source of energy. Be sure to include foods though that is rich in omega 3 fats such as the ones listed above. You can make easy switches, for example, eat walnuts instead of almonds or for a homemade salad dressing, use cold-pressed rapeseed oil instead of your usual oil.
So, the bottom-line? Eat from a variety of sources and don’t skip out on one macro over another. Each provides a valuable source of nutrition and if you are looking to get leaner and stronger, you can’t deprive yourself of the trifecta!