In this day and age, it has never been easier to keep track of everything. We have diaries and calendars on our cell phones, we can set alarms for reminders, we can track how many steps we have taken or how many calories we have burnt through an app or through an ‘electronic bracelet’. We no longer live in a society where we have to guess or go through a grueling mathematical process in order to work something out. The reason I say this is because just as easily as we can count our steps, we can count our exact macronutrient intake through an app. In a world where obesity is an ever-growing issue, few in society are tracking what they’re eating. Is it laziness, or a lack of knowledge and understanding?
What are macronutrients and why should we track them?
Our overall calorie intake is made up of three macronutrients, carbohydrates, protein and fats. All three are absolutely essential within the human diet.
Carbohydrates - The body’s fundamental energy source. Carbohydrates consist of 4 calories per gram, therefore 200g of carbs would equate to 800 calories. Our digestive enzymes get to work on converting carbs into glucose or blood sugar, which then becomes our energy source. Carbs come in two forms, simple and complex. Simple carbs come naturally in foods such as fruit and milk, as well as in sugars added to processed and refined foods, soda as an example. Simple sugars are the fastest source of energy as they’re rapidly digested; hence after eating a banana or drinking a soda, energy levels shoot up rather quickly.
Complex carbs come in the form of whole grains, oatmeal, pasta, rice, starchy vegetables such as potatoes and sweet potatoes, and then also beans and lentils. Complex carbs are made up of sugar molecules strung together, which get slowly stripped down by the digestive system releasing energy over a long period of time.
Protein is mainly responsible for muscle recovery, repair and growth. However protein can be used as an energy source when there is an absence of carbohydrates and the body is in a state of catabolism. Like carbohydrates, there are 4 calories per gram, so again 200g of protein would equate to 800 calories. For the most part, we source our protein from animal products like meat and seafood but other foods like nuts and legumes have a reasonable amount of protein also.
Fats are often given a bad rap and are seen by many as the macronutrient to avoid in order to steer clear of obesity. However, fats are an extremely essential part of the human diet and you’re just as likely (if not more likely) to become obese through over consumption of fast carbohydrates. There are 9 calories per gram of fats, therefore eating 100g of fat would equate to 900 calories. There are several different types of fat. Saturated fat can be found in meat, dairy products, cakes, and biscuits. Monounsaturated fat can be found in avocados and olives. Polyunsaturated fat is found in oily fish such as salmon and lastly trans-fats, which don’t occur naturally and are found in fried foods, doughnuts etc.
Why is it important to track how much I’m getting of each macronutrient? If you’re guessing how much of each you’re consuming, you could be way off. You might have a goal in mind but the amounts of each macronutrient you're consuming are taking you further from your goal.
A saying that the majority of people within the fitness industry would have come across is this, ‘you can’t out train a bad diet’. This couldn’t be more correct but not just for weight loss, also for stimulating muscle growth. If you’re not consuming enough protein, it’s very unlikely you will see any significant muscle growth. If you’re trying to lose weight and you’re over consuming carbohydrates, chances are you’re not going to lose weight.
Did you know, that there is an app called ‘MyFitnessPal’ that allows you to track everything you eat. It even has a breakdown of micronutrients so you can see if you’re deficient in vitamins and such. The app really couldn’t be much simpler to use and allows you to keep track of everything, making your goal that much more achievable. If at this point you’re unsure of what to eat, that’s where our meal plans come in. We tailor our meal plans specifically to each individual and their macronutrient needs dependent upon their goals. Our meal plans are full of variation because we understand that the more extreme the approach, the less sustainable the results are.
If you aren’t tracking what you’re eating, then you’re putting yourself at a serious disadvantage of achieving your goal. Remember guys, YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT.
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