so...okay, these are the basic building blocks of nutrition but...what does that tell me? well, it means that you should be intentional about including all three of these macronutrients into your diet on a daily basis in order to practice well balanced nutrition.
the quantities of these nutrients will differ depending on a lot of different variables - your age, gender, height, weight, level of activity and fitness goals, for example. however, that being said, the proportion in which we consume these macronutrients to fulfil our daily needs is similar across the board.
carbs act as the primary source of fuel in your diet. one gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories. approximately 40-60% of your daily intake should come from carbohydrates. for example, if you consume 2,000 calories a day, that means that 900-1300 of those calories are carbohydrates. woah! but hold it - there are two very different kinds of carbohydrates: simple and complex.
simple carbs are already in their most basic form, comprised of only one or two sugars. it is advisable to consume simple carbs in moderation due to the drastic rise and fall they have on blood sugar. examples of simple carbohydrates include: table sugar, products with white flour, honey, milk, yogurt, candy and fruit. complex carbs on the other hand, require the break down of several chains of sugar in order for them to be metabolised (is this getting too science-y!?) this breakdown process requires more time and effort, thus keeping you fuller for longer and having a more regulated effect on your blood sugar. complex carbs are loaded with belly-filling fiber, vitamins and minerals and have been shown to fight chronic diseases! so what counts as a complex carb? whole grains, beans and vegetables.
protein is another super important macronutrient made up of amino acids. while proteins aren't a primary source of energy, they aid in tissue growth and repair. whether you're trying to lose weight or build lean muscle, protein is a key player! similar to carbohydrates, there are 4 calories in every 1 gram of protein. Protein should account for 10-30% of your daily caloric intake. For a person consuming 2000 calories/day, that equates to 200 to 600 calories or 50 to 150 grams of protein.
** IF you have a fat loss or muscle gain goal, your protein intake may be greater.
good sources of protein include: lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes and pulses, nuts, tofu, greek yogurt, and select dairy products.
ahhh, that dreaded word. fats are what our bodies use for energy when our bodies are at rest. It is important to have healthy fats in your diet for protection, the regulation of certain bodily processes and the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. That being said, fat should come from unsaturated sources such as nut butters, avocados, vegetable and olive oils. Fat contains 9 calories for each gram consumed (more than double that of carbs and protein). Fats should make up less than or equal to 30% of your diet, no more than 600 calories in a 2,000-calorie daily diet.
healthy sources of fat: avocado, nuts/nut butters (if you haven't tried almond butter you've never lived), coconut, vegetable and olive oils, etc.
as you go about your day, be conscientious of what macronutrients you're consuming (and in what quantities). you might be surprised to find that maybe you're not getting enough protein...or perhaps more than 30% of your diet comes from fat. both of those could be contributing to that extra little pudge that just won't come off no matter how many hours you spend on the elliptical. if it helps, think of your plate as a pie chart - 40% carbs/30% protein/30% fat. bada bing, bada boom!!
Eat well. Live well. Be well.