Human nutritional needs are supplied by macronutrients and micronutrients. The best way to get good results is not counting calories but counting macronutrients and eat varied food for your micronutrients intake. There are a lot of macronutrient calculators and food diary apps to track it.
What are macronutrients?
We all know that macro means large, so it means that is the most important part of your diet. Macronutrients provide the most energy – calories that your body needs. So macronutrients are known as carbohydrates, proteins and fats. *1
Most of us know that carbohydrates are the main source of energy that your body needs. It provides glucose, which is converted to energy, also needed for the central nervous system – your brain, muscles and the heart. I think that you have noticed when you don’t have enough carbohydrates in your diet you get dizzy, you can’t focus, feel sluggish and there is a reason why. So going low carb diet for too long is not good for your body. The best time for carbohydrates intake is breakfast or around your workout (about 1-2 hours before and after your training). The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that carbohydrates make up 45 to 65 % of your total daily calories. *2
What foods are the main sources of Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are found in both healthy and unhealthy foods. There are two types of carbohydrates – complex and simple. Carbohydrates are made up of three components: fiber, sugar and starch. Fiber and starch are complex carbs, while sugar is a simple carbohydrate. Complex carbs pack in more nutrients than simple carbs, because they are higher in fiber and digest more slowly. This also makes them more filling, which means they’re a good option for weight control. Simple carbs are mostly sugars.
List of complex carbohydrates: beans, buckwheat, squashes, wheats, couscous, lentils, oats, oatmeal, potatoes (sweet, red, white), quinoa, rice (all of them), spelt, breads, cereals and flours. Complex carbohydrates are going to provide the most amount of energy.
Simple carbohydrates: apples, bananas, pears, strawberries, oranges, grapes, kiwis, mangoes, pineapples, watermelons, dates, beets, broccoli, cucumbers, carrots, eggplants, mushrooms, onions, zucchinis, tomatoes, spinach leaves and so on…
Proteins are large molecules which are made of amino acids. An important role the proteins play in our bodies is that they provide structure. For example, keratin, collagen, enzymes. We all know that protein helps us grow. Protein assists with fat loss and muscle building, and maintenance. It also helps with repairing muscle tissue, aiding the immune system function and for regulation of enzymes and hormones. The RDA for protein in healthy adults is 0,8 g/kg body weight per day. Recommendations for strength exercise typically range from 1,4 to 2,0 g/kg body weight per day. *3
What foods are the main sources of proteins?
Protein sources: chicken, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, milk, nuts (also have healthy fats), egg whites, beef, pork, turkey, tuna, salmon, tilapia, bacon, veal, shrimps, lobster, scallops, peanut butter, tofu, whey protein, spelt, oats.
Protein sources for vegans: kale, hemp, soy milk, nut butter, quinoa, lentils, beans, tofu, spinach leaves.
Fat helps with growth and development. It is the most concentrated source of energy. Fats also play very important role with helping your body absorb certain vitamins (A, D, E and K) and produce important hormones. They also help to protect your organs and help keep your body warm. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that fats make up 20 to 30 % of your total daily calories. Dietary cholesterol intake should be less than 300 mg a day. *4
What foods are the main sources of fats?
Fat sources: coconut oil, olive oil, macadamia oil, avocado oil, grape seed oil, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, nut butters (almond, peanut, cashew), chia seeds, cheese, salmon.
What are micronutrients?
Our bodies also need water (at least 6-8 glasses a day) and micronutrients. Micronutrients are nutrients that our bodies need in smaller amounts, which are vitamins and minerals. Micronutrients are not produced in the body and must be derived from the diet. *5 They can be found in fruits and vegetables. Micronutrients are just as important as macronutrients for your body to function properly.
What foods are the main sources of Micronutrients?
- Vitamin A sources: most dietary vitamin A comes from leafy green vegetables, orange and yellow vegetables, fruits and some vegetable oils;
- Vitamin B sources: fish, poultry, meat, eggs and dairy;
- Vitamin C sources: lemon, chili pepper, strawberry, spinach leaves, potatoes, cranberries, kiwi, oranges, pineapples, bell peppers and so on;
- Vitamin D sources: cereal, fish, butter, milk, cheese;
- Vitamin K sources: avocado, green grapes, melon, kiwi, limes, asparagus, green beans, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale;
- Vitamin E sources: green olives, spinach leaves, avocado, paprika, plant oils, pine nuts, almonds;
- Iron main sources: quinoa, lentils, pears, artichokes, chickpeas, spinach leaves;
- Magnesium sources: almonds, spinach leaves, cashews, oatmeal, peanuts, brown rice;
- Calcium rich foods: beans, sesame seeds, leafy greens, chia seeds, oranges, almonds;
- Zinc sources: fish, beans and legumes, peanuts, eggs, milk, cheese, red meat, chicken;
Now you know the basics of counting your macros and micros. I hope you found it useful. So keep counting and reach your goals faster!