Over time hundreds and hundreds of diets were declared to be THE key to weight-loss. In my opinion, diets are crap, if you don’t agree with me, then that’s fine, but I just think there is only one way to get healthy and fit and that is to be active and have healthy and balanced eating habits. In this blog post, I’ll try to explain the basics of what food is made of to you, in a very simple, but clear way. It all starts with macro’s.
It doesn’t matter if you’re losing, maintaining or gaining weight, macro’s are the cornerstone of all dietary schedules.
So what are macro’s exactly? Macro is a short word for macro-nutriënts. Macro-nutriënts are energy-providing chemical substances consumed by organisms in large quantities. Nutrients are environmental substances used for energy, growth and bodily functions. Depending on the nutrient, these substances are needed in small amounts (micro-nutriënts, like vitamins and minerals) or large amounts (macro-nutrients) The three macronutrients in your food are carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins. Each of these macronutrients provides energy in the form of calories.
- Proteins: 4cals per gram
- Carbohydrates: 4cals per gram
- Lipids (or fats): 9cals per gram
All of these macro’s are essential for your body to function properly. They all have different functions that are essential.
– Carbs are in se not essential, but they are freaking awesome and should not be feared! Carbs are easily metabolized and used as the body’s main fuel source. It is the most efficient way to provide your body with glucose. Our body uses glucose for energy and stores it as glycogen to use between meals. Your brain, for example, can only function on glucose, your body can make glucose out of other nutrients, but this process takes time. So the quickest way to get in some energy when feeling a little foggy is by eating carbs! Also right before a workout, it’s better to eat carbs to fuel you during your workout, because it can be almost immediately used as energy. Fibers are also another form of carbs that are indigestible end is necessary for your intestines to function properly.
– Where can you find carbs?:
Primarily in starchy foods (grains (wheat, spelt, oats, rice, quinoa,….) and potatoes), fruits, milk, and yogurt. Other foods also contain carbs but in lesser amounts. There is a difference between simple and complex carbs. Simple carbs taste very sweet (like sugar), they are the quickest source of energy and are digested very rapidly. Complex carbs are often referred to as starch and are often rich in fiber (especially the whole-grain kinds), these are digested more slowly. Fruits, vegetables and whole-grain products all contain high amounts of fiber and are essential in your diet for a normal intestinal function.
– Proteins are essential to building your muscles and organs. It is also essential in repairing your muscles after a hard workout and replacing damaged tissue. Proteins are made out of amino-acids. The big difference between proteins and carbs is that there are a few amino-acids that your body can not make out of other nutrients. They’re called “essential amino-acids”, because if you don’t eat them… You don’t have enough of them. Building muscle without eating enough protein is thus practically impossible because your body can not make them itself!
– where do you find protein?
meats, poultry, fish, meat substitutes, cheese, milk, nuts, legumes, and in smaller quantities in starchy foods and vegetables.
Lipids (or fats)
– a lot of people already cringe when they hear the word “fat”, because they associate it with getting fat. Now, once and for all: YOU NEED FAT! Fat is essential for maintaining a healthy body. Certain vitamins can not be absorbed without the aid of fats, fats are essential to form hormones and provide a well-functioning immune system. It promotes the growth and development of your body and maintains your cell membranes. As you can see, fats are not the enemy. The main difference lies in which fats, there are good fats (unsaturated) and bad fats (saturated). Try to get in most of your fats by eating the healthy kind! Omega-3 and omega-6 fats are for example essential fatty acids your body can’t make itself.
Where do you find those healthy fats? fatty fish, meat, cheese, eggs, nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, soymilk, tofu,…
Now how much do you need of all of those?
Depending on your goals and activity, this can be a bit different!
– protein: when you’re inactive, 0.8g/kg body weight is already enough, if you’re more active, you’ll need more protein, for runners this can be 1.2g/kg for example and for the lifters wanting to gain muscle: 1.8g/kg. More than this is actually not better, it won’t make you gain more muscle and too much can even cause kidney damage.
So this is enough!
– fats: there isn’t a thing like a golden rule for fat intake, but recommendations are between 25 to 35% of your calories coming from fat.
– carbs: you actually fill up the rest of your intake with carbs, so depending on how many proteins and fats you eat, this can range from 40-60% approximately.
What does this look like in real life for me?
On a day I work out, I consume approximately 2200cals
- protein: 100g = 400cals
- Fats: 72g = 650cals
- Carbs: 287g = 1150cals
Add this up and you get 2200 cals 🙂 important to add is that I don’t follow this schedule strictly. The main thing I watch is that I get enough protein in, the fats and carbs are different every day. Sometimes I eat more calories than that, sometimes a little less. It’s about balance, not perfection 😉
Easy help to calculate your own macro’s is to be found here https://iifym.com/iifym-calculator/
I hope this helps you a bit into understanding the world of glorious foooood!