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What are Macros?


Macros or macronutrients are essentially the "building blocks" of food. They, along with micronutrients, are what food is composed of. The three macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Each macro has a certain amount of calories, or the amount of energy the nutrient contains. Lets take a look at each macro more closely.

Carbohydrates

The first macro we will discuss is carbohydrates, or carbs for short. Carbs are used as glucose in the body to drive chemical reactions and support brain function. Carbs consists of any sugars, starches, and cellulose. Usually this macro is the one that most people start to cut out from their diets first. More on diets in another post. Foods that are considered to be mainly a carb include any fruit, any vegetable, grains, breads, sugars, and legumes.

There is a difference between "good" carbs and "bad" carbs. The "good" carbs would be fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. The "bad" carbs include anything high in sugar, non-whole wheat grains, and certain breads. When factoring carbs into your diet, make sure you include plenty of the "good" carbs, and eliminate the "bad" carbs.

Fats

The second macro we will discuss is fats. Fats are the primary way that your body stores energy. Fats consists of any oils, butter, nuts, seeds, avocado, and olives. This macro is usually the second most restricted macro when dieting.

Fats can be divided into two categories, "good" fat and "bad" fat. The "good" fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are essential to functions in the body. Monounsaturated fats contain only one carbon to carbon double bond, whereas polyunsaturated fats have two or more carbon to carbon double bonds. The "bad" fats include saturated and trans-fat. Both of these fats will negatively affect your total cholesterol level, which can lead to coronary disease.

Protein

The third macro we will discuss is protein. Protein is an essential component of muscle function. Amino acids are the specific part of a protein molecule that builds muscle. Protein consists of any meats (chicken, turkey, beef, pork, and game meats), fish, and seafood. Usually, most people do not eat enough of this macro. A good rule of thumb when figuring out how much protein to eat per day is to eat 1g of protein for every pound of lean muscle mass.

No matter which macro you are looking at, keep in mind that most foods contain all three macros to some degree. Making sure you are eating a balanced diet is key to optimum nutrition.

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