This week, we’re going to delve deeper into the world of macronutrients and find out how monitoring your intake can help you eat yourself to optimal health.
I explored the difference between macro and micronutrients in a recent blog. But, in case you missed out, here’s a quick summary of what these nutrients do:
- Macronutrients – proteins, carbohydrates and fats. These provide energy for the body.
- Micronutrients – vitamins and minerals. These enable chemical reactions to occur within the body.
It’s simple really. But, did you know that watching your macronutrient consumption will give your body and mind a boost and raise your energy levels?
Why do I need to keep track of my macronutrients?
The old saying rings true; you are what you eat! So, it makes sense to fill yourself with a balanced mix of healthy, colourful foods that look and taste great. I believe that food is one of the greatest medicines, and that by monitoring what you eat, you can find a whole new level of vitality.
Eating right doesn’t just affect you physically, it can affect you emotionally too. Eating certain foods will make you feel happier, energised and more motivated. By monitoring your macronutrient intake, you can take control of your body and mind.
How to keep track of macronutrients
Here’s a simple guide to keep track of your macronutrients. I stick to the ‘If it Fits Your Macros’ (IIFYM) concept, as this also helps you work out your calorie intake. You can eat whatever your heart desires with this method, as long as you stick to your calorie/macro target for the day.
Alcohol is often considered the fourth macronutrient, so I’ve added some information here so you can track the macronutrients in your drinks too!
Each macronutrient yields a certain number of calories:
1g of protein yields 4 calories
1g of carbohydrate yields 4 calories
1g of fat yields 9 calories
1g of alcohol yields 7 calories
Always check the label
Read through the nutritional label to see how many grams of protein, fat or carbohydrates there are in a specific item of food. Jot it down, then work out how this adds up in terms of calories using the bullet points above.
Remember to look at the serving sizes too. Most labels depict the nutritional information ‘per serving’, but many foodstuffs are actually two or three servings combined, which can warp your macro count.
Don’t count the calories on the packet – they only come from macronutrients so working it out yourself will give you a more accurate answer. And, don’t factor in minerals like sodium, as they have no calories. However, you might want to keep sodium down anyway if you have a tendency towards high blood-pressure.
Many labels feature a number of different types of fat, including: saturated fat, unsaturated fat, trans fats and others. Avoid wasting time working these out individually and just count the ‘total fat’ column instead.
No label, no problem
If your food doesn’t have a label, it can make it more difficult to work out these figures on the spot. But, the equation is far from impossible. You can now find the nutritional data for most foods online.
Weighing your food will help you get the most accurate results. With meat, make sure to weigh when it’s raw, as cooking will make it slightly lighter.
Restaurants can be a little trickier. Make a note of what you eat and try checking the restaurant website. Many now publish their nutritional data online, letting you know exactly what you’re eating.
Can’t I just count calories instead?
If you focus solely on calories and consume fewer than you burn, you will lose weight. But, you won’t experience the same nutritional benefits if you ignore your macronutrient consumption. For example:
- Inadequate protein intake during a calorie deficit will cause you to lose muscle tone.
- Inadequate fat intake will negatively impact many of the hormones that stimulate continued weight loss.
- Inadequate carbohydrate intake can negatively impact training performance.
Calorie counting alone will not give your body the strength it needs to replenish itself and give you that natural healthy glow. By monitoring your macros, you can improve your health, your energy levels and begin your journey of self-discovery.Join me on my own nutritional journey and find out how