Macronutrients are the nutrients we need an abundance of every single day. They are categorized as proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Each of these play major roles in fueling and constructing the human body. As we start to
understand which foods fall under which category, it’s important to know
the classification is based on the primary molecule in that food.
Your body breaks down the macronutrients you eat into compounds used
to help create energy, build body structures, create chemical reactions, and
stimulate the release of hormones. Which means they can impact how you
feel, perform, and even behave.
Carbohydrates are made of carbon and water. Hence, the two parts of the
word: carbo – and hydrate. Carbs are a major source of energy and in fact the human brain runs exclusively on carbohydrates. They are stored in our
muscles and organs as glycogen. In the form of fiber, carbohydrates help
provide fuel for our microbiome.
Not all carbs are created equal. When following a healthy nutrition plan you
want to stick with healthy sources of carbohydrates. You want to pay
attention to the glycemic index of the carbohydrate source and stick to the
lower-glycemic options. High-glycemic foods spike blood sugar and elevate
Carbohydrates are found in vegetables, fruits, tubers, legumes, grains and
Carbohydrates Whole Food Sources: Plantains, Banana, Grapes, Nectarines,
Apples, Berries, Black Bean pasta, Lentil pasta, Quinoa, Parsnips, Winter
Squashes, Carrots, Green zucchini, Yellow squash, Kale, Spinach, Brussel
sprouts, Broccoli, Caulifower, Rice, Rolled oats, White potato, Sweet potato,
Proteins are made of amino acids and are the building blocks for tissues,
organs, nerves, muscles and more. There are two main categories of amino
acids in the body. First, we’ve got essential amino acids – those that the body
can’t manufacture, and we must consume in our diets and nonessential
amino acids – those that the body can usually make for itself.
Protein does more than create tissue. It is also an essential component for
enzymes, antibodies, hemoglobin and peptide hormones. It repairs broken
down muscle fibers post exercise, makes sure you have the right cofactors
for metabolic processes, and contributes to your adaptive immune system.
Protein is the primary nutrient for animal meats, seafood, and some
Protein Sources: Chicken breasts, Chicken thighs, Ground turkey, Ground
bison, Ground beef, 0% Greek yogurt, Mahi mahi, Shrimp, Sea scallops,
Protein powder, Egg whites, Atlantic salmon, Steak, Whole eggs, Plant-based
protein powder, Whey protein powder
Contrary to popular belief, dietary fat is not the villain it’s made out to be. Fat is essential for optimal health and performance. Fats are organic
molecules made up of carbon and hydrogen elements joined together in
long chains called hydrocarbons. These molecules can be constructed in
different ways, which creates different types of fat. The molecular
configuration also determines whether fats will be healthy or unhealthy.
They play numerous important roles in the body: Energy source, cell building blocks for cells, hormones, and increase fullness. They regulate inflammation too!
There are 3 main types of dietary fat: saturated, monounsaturated, and
Saturated fats are highly stable, don’t rancify easily, and are solid at
room temperature. These are great to use for cooking!
Monounsaturated fats are relatively stable, don’t rancify easily, and are
liquid at room temperature.
Polyunsaturated fats are relatively unstable, go rancid easily, and always
liquid. Never heat or use polyunsaturated fats in cooking!
What is a “healthy fat”?
In popular terminology, the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are
what most people refer to as “healthy fats.” A better definition of “healthy
fat” might be “relatively unprocessed fats from whole foods”.
“Unhealthy fats” are typically those that are industrially produced and
designed to be nonperishable, such as: trans- fatty acids that appear in
processed foods hydrogenated fats such as margarine (hydrogen is added to
the fat chain to make a normally liquid and perishable fat into a solid and
shelf-stable fat) most shelf-stable cooking oils (e.g. saflower, soybean, corn
oil, etc.) These fats are toxic and interfere with the essential roles fatty acids
play within a healthy body. Avoid vegetable oils, fried fats, canola oil,
margarine, and vegetable shortening.
Best Sources Saturated: Duck fat, Pork fat, Ghee, Coconut oil
Best Sources Monounsaturated: Olive oil, Avocado oil, Cashew oil, Almond oil, Pecan oil
Best Sources Polyunsaturated: Flaxseed oil, Fish oil
Best sources pre & post workout: NONE. Keep these meals low in fats.
Nutritional Therapy Association. (2019). Basics of Nutrition Student Guide
What Are Macronutrients (macros) & Why Should You Care?