If you’re busy hitting the gym but not gaining the muscle you’re looking to get, you may not be getting enough protein. Or if you’re lacking in energy to exercise you’re probably not eating enough carbs in your diet. Most people tend to focus on counting calories when they are trying to lose or gain weight, or just to maintain a healthy weight.
Of course, controlling your diet and paying attention to calories in and calories out is important, but what we really should be paying attention to is macronutrient intake. On the other hand, if you’re trying to lose weight but not seeing any change, you may be getting too many macros.
There are two types of nutrients; macronutrients and micronutrients, and they are both essential in a well-balanced diet as they keep the body strong and healthy.
Macronutrients are nutrients that you need in large quantities, such as, protein, fats, carbohydrates, and essentially provide your body with energy, muscle growth, and repair.
Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals that your body needs in order to carry out daily functions. They are essential to the production of hormones, enzymes, and anything that the body needs to produce on its own.
Both macronutrients and micronutrients play an important part in the health of our body, you could say they’re “joined at the hip,” as macronutrients supply our body with energy, and micronutrients help us utilize that energy.
How Does our Body Use Macronutrients?
A good healthy diet consists of plenty of carbs, some protein, and then some fat. Let’s break down macros and see how the body uses them.
Carbohydrates – 4 calories per 1g
Carbs are your body’s main source of energy. They can be found in things like pasta, potatoes, vegetables, and bread.
A good rule of thumb when choosing your carbs is to find whole grains and anything that gives you slow-burning energy. What you want to avoid are empty carbs such as sugar or anything that is highly processed.
Protein – 4 calories per 1g
As you can see, both protein and carbohydrates contain the same number of calories per gram. Many people choose to do a low-carb diet because they think that carbs make them fat. But remember that each macro provides our body with something different and carbs are very important. Protein is necessary for growth and repair, and for packing on muscles. They can be found in meat, eggs, and dairy, as well as in plant-based sources such as quinoa, legumes, and nuts.
Fats – 9 calories per 1g
Fat gets a bad rap for an obvious cause; however, bad fats must not be confused with healthy fats that are essential for our general health, and to keep our body functioning at its best. Healthy fats can be found in olive oil, nuts, fish, avocados, and seed oils.
There is a general assumption that carbs and fat are bad, and protein is good, but this is not the case as each is important in a well-balanced diet, and the body requires all three.
The number of macros you need in your diet depends on your personal goals. Eating too much of anything can have a negative effect on your health and your fitness goals, and can cause you to gain weight, even protein. Check out the Beachbody On Demand app for structured fitness and nutrition plans where the macros are balanced for you – making it easy for you to achieve your fitness goals!