Monday, September 30, 2013

Macros, What Are They?

by Kris Pitcher

Let's all take a deep breath...inhale, and exhale. Now, this is not about eating in your macros. I won't even apologize for that or begin to tell you why I don't subscribe to that. If you think beer and pizza are part of your solid nutritional plan to get lean and build all means, be my guest.

We're not talking about that. Which is why we started with a deep breath. Because what we need to do is take one GIANT LEAP back and revisit what macronutrients are. I get the feeling people talk around nutrition but have lost the basics.

Nutrients make up two main categories. Macronutrients and micronutrients. You didn't have to study Latin to glean "macro" means large, and "micro" means small. If we think about that, our macronutrients are going to make up the largest portion of our diet, while our micronutrients contribute in a small way.

Each of those categories break down further. Before we go there, or as we go there...let's look at exactly what our macronutrients are. There are four.

Protein. Protein is made up of amino acids. There are two types of protein, complete and incomplete. Complete proteins have all 22 essential amino acids. Essential means you need to get them from your diet. Incomplete proteins have some but not all. Your body can take incomplete proteins, combine amino acids and create complete proteins. Typically, complete proteins come from animal sources, and plant sources provide incomplete proteins. Cool.

Protein helps us build and repair tissues, cells, all our "parts". It's value is 4 calories per gram.

Fats. There are four types of fats: saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and essential fatty acids (omega's). Fats come from both animal and plant sources. Typically, animal sources of fat are saturated, and plant sources are unsaturated. Although that's not always the case.

Fat helps to insulate our organs, store and transport fat-soluble vitamins, and make hormones. It's important. Fat has a higher value at 9 calories per gram.

Carbohydrates are the third macronutrient category. They are either complex or simple depending on the number of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen chains they have. Science is cool. Simple carbohydrates include: galactose (dairy & beet sugar), glucose (dextrose or grape sugar), lactose (milk), maltose (from malt - like in beer), and sucrose (table sugar). Your "ose's" are simple sugars, for you label readers.

Carbohydrates are used for fuel in our brain and are stored in our muscles as glycogen. Our liver also stores carbohydrate as glycogen. Carbohydrate has a value of 4 calories per gram.

WATER is the forgotten macronutrient. We are mostly composed of water. Every cell. Drink it.

The other nutrient category is micronutrients. These are our vitamins and minerals. Of these, we can further break the category down to macrominerals and trace minerals.

When I was thinking about hope was to remind us of the nutrients which make up the categories, and of their purpose - in a very general way. The goal was just to take a step back to the basics.

Regardless of what percentage you take them in, or how you combine them, or if or where you go to church...don't forget the basics of the basics. Now go eat!

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