If you’ve spent any amount of time researching weight loss online, or reading weight loss and diet articles in magazines or getting advice from people in Facebook groups, then you’ve likely heard of macronutrients. But what exactly are they and what role do they play in weight loss?
Macronutrients are the three types of foods that are required, in varying quantities, in our diets for basic nutrition. When discussing macronutrients here, we are referring to Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats. And yes, you need all three in order to maintain a healthy eating lifestyle AND to lose weight (those no-fat diets will likely end up causing you to gain weight see this article from The Cleveland Clinic for more).
For the sake of this blog post (and because of the abundance of easily accessible information to be found online) we’re going to make the assumption that you’re less interested in the science behind the macronutrients and that you’re more interested in the role they should play in weight loss.
- Your carb consumption should be based on how active you are and what your goals are. The more active you are, the more carbs your body can burn for fuel. But be warned, if you have weight loss goals, it’s likely your body is storing enough fuel for those workouts, and you won’t need to consume as many carbohydrates as say, a marathon runner.
- Carbs provide your muscles with glycogen and your brain with glucose.
- Vegetables and fruit are the best sources of carbohydrates because they also contain lots of fiber and nutritional value.
- If you’re focused on weight loss, you generally won’t want to exceed 100 grams of carbohydrates per day which is fairly easy to accomplish when you’re avoiding processed foods and sugars and you’re minimizing your grain intake.
- Protein is the most essential macronutrient for maintaining optimal body health. Don’t be afraid to consume a lot of protein.
- Focus on eating the right kinds of protein. Eat lean meats, not fatty meats. And choose white poultry over dark.
- Most people (especially women) aren’t consuming enough protein. Consider using a supplement like a protein shake first thing in the morning, or after you’ve worked out to ensure you’re getting enough.
- Because protein makes the body feel fuller for longer periods of time than any other macronutrient – every meal and snack you consume should include some protein. Especially if your goal is weight loss.
- Fats are the most misunderstood of the macronutrients. Healthy fats are absolutely necessary for any healthy eating lifestyle.
- There are three types of fats: saturated, unsaturated and trans. Trans fats should be completely avoided. Generally speaking, saturated fats should also be avoided, if less so than trans fats. Unsaturated fats are healthy fats.
- Trans fats are often added to foods to make them last longer. When you’re eating a lot of fresh foods, the shelf life shouldn’t be an issue – preservatives, trans fats or others, are not usually a good thing.
- Most people in today’s “fat-free” crazed world aren’t getting enough unsaturated fats which can be found in foods like fish, nuts, avocados, and some vegetables.
- Worrying less about how much fat you’re eating and instead focusing on what kinds of fat you’re eating will likely have positive and lasting effects on your health and risk of disease.
Okay, so this one isn’t a macronutrient. But we find that enough people struggle with sugar, and so it’s worth including a short section here on sugar and why it’s such a big deal.
While sugar isn’t fat, it does cause your body to store fat. Whereas proteins and fats help your body burn fat, carbohydrates are broken down in your system into glucose. Guess what glucose is? That’s right! Sugar!
So, if you’re eating right you’re getting enough glucose in the form of your carbohydrate consumptions, and shouldn’t need to consume any additional sugars on top of that.
And that sweet tooth? It’s not just something cute to refer to your love of candy and baked goods. It’s a condition created by … you guessed it! … eating sugar. When you eat too much sugar, your body will actually begin to crave MORE sugar AND you’ll develop a tolerance for sugar, so you’ll need more and more sugar to satisfy those cravings as time goes on.
By cutting sugar from your diet – your sweet tooth will most likely disappear completely.
Still need to satisfy that craving? Go for chocolate. BUT go for the good stuff. Quality chocolate uses cocoa (from a bean) for flavor and doesn’t rely on sugar. And opt for dark chocolate which is said to have additional benefits like being rich in antioxidants, potentially good in helping reduce blood pressure and could possibly lower your risk for certain diseases.*
*These are commonly discussed benefits of dark chocolate and their inclusion here is speculative and not meant to indicate that they have been independently scientifically verified.
So what does all of this mean to you? It would be easy if we just said, here’s how many macros you should be eating. But you want to find the right balance of macronutrients for your goals and your body. The best move would be to meet with a nutritionist to determine what you should be eating to accomplish your specific goals. If that’s not an option for you, there are other options out there like MyFitnessPal, which we recommend in our Weight Loss 101 post, that will guide you in setting and meeting your macronutrient and calorie goals.
You should also meet with a personal trainer to ensure your exercise plan is appropriate to the nutrition plan you choose during your weight loss journey as these two components working together are the most effective way for you to lose weight and keep it off.
Don’t have a personal trainer? No problem, your first session with a personal trainer is FREE at Elevate Fitness in Dewitt and Liverpool. Simply fill out the form below to take advantage of this great opportunity!