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Learning the Macros

How to manage your macro nutrients for optimum health


By Eri Anton



There are 3 major macronutrients that we all have heard about and they are fats, proteins and carbohydrates.   Eating them are a necessary part of maintaining good health, but what do they each do and how do you manage them to optimize your health?    

 Protein is a macronutrient that is essential to building muscle mass. ... Each gram of protein contains 4 calories. Protein makes up about 15 percent of a person's body weight. Chemically, protein is composed of amino acids, which are organic compounds made of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen or sulfur.

Fat is a term used to describe a class of macro nutrients used in metabolism called triglycerides. Fats provide a means of storing energy for most eukaryotes, as well as act as a food source. Each gram of fat contains 9 calories. Fats have the highest energy storage potential of the macronutrients, and are very chemically stable, making them ideal for storing energy for later use. There are three primary types of fats:

Saturated is a type of fat containing a high proportion of fatty acid molecules without double bonds, considered to be less healthy in the diet than unsaturated fat. These are animal based fats found in meat, cheese, etc.

Unsaturated - Monounsaturated fats are often referred to as “good” fats. They make up the oils and fats found in avocados and olive oil. Polyunsaturated fats are found in canola oil and other less viscous plant oils.

Trans fats are chemically produced fats. They are generally considered to be unhealthy, and are found in mass produced oil found in processed and fried foods.

Foods high in carbohydrates include breads, fruits and vegetables, as well as milk products. Carbohydrates are the sugars, starches and fibers found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products. ... They are called carbohydrates because, at the chemical level, they contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. There are three classes of carbohydrates: monosaccharides, disaccharides, and polysaccharides.

Carbohydrates are the sugars, starches and fibers found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products and are the bones main source for energy. Each gram of Carbohydrate has 4 calories.

Finding the macronutrient balance

So now that you know the bodies main sources of energy let's discuss how to best balance these macronutrients in a balanced diet and furthermore in a high performance diet. US dietary guidelines would suggest that a healthy diet consists of 45-65% carbohydrate, 20-35% fat and 10-25% protein. Because each macro nutrient is processed differently in the body in how it is converted to energy I have set may macronutrient balance at different percentages.

My diet is roughly 1800 - 2000 calories per day when I'm training. I eat about 35% of my calories from protein, 30% of my calories from fats and 35% of my calories from carbohydrates. Although I am not strict on percentages they are guidelines for me as I seek to find balance and go with how my body is feeling each day. So my diet is the inverse of US guidelines above, but this is what works best for me in maintaining a lean physique.

My favorites

In each of the macronutrients I have my favorites and want to share some of them with you.

Proteins - I like chicken and turkey but also love to east fish. Tuna, Salmon and sea bass are my favorites. I like to eat them grilled with a little olive oil.

Carbohydrates - sweet potato is one of my favorites and I love it grilled with a little olive oil as well. Asparagus, broccoli and kale are some of my go to vegetables and Ezekiel bread a high seed bread is my favorite grain to eat. I try to stay away from too much sugar but find a way to balance it in my diet.

Fats - nut butters such as fresh peanut butter or almond butter are my favorites. I do get additional fats from avocado and each them daily. Olive oil is my oil of choice and I use it on everything.

Finding your balance....

This is my approach to the macronutrient game and what works best for me. I have found this to be most effective for me based on trial and error and getting great advice from professional trainers. I encourage you to look at your numbers and understand what calories your body needs per day and how to best balance your macronutrients and calories for optimum health.