Macronutrients: Understanding Macro Breakdowns

If you’re trying to diet down and lose weight, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard of “macronutrients” mentioned and how important they are for tracking purposes.

Macros have such an integral role in healthy weight loss because it’s used to keep people accountable when on a diet. 

Let’s get into the details of macronutrients, what they are, how you can count them, and what you need to pay attention to so that your weight loss is effortless.

Counting Macros

Macros are short for macronutrients, and you’ll see these two being used interchangeably.

To be healthy and function properly, your body needs a certain amount of each macronutrient daily.

Measured in calories, these nutrients are what’s providing your body with energy.

The three main types of macros are:

  • Protein, which contains 4 calories per gram
  • Carbohydrates, which contains 4 calories per gram
  • Fat, which contains more than double protein and carbs with 9 calories per gram.

Each macro has a specific role and function, and your body processes each of these very differently.

Let’s take a look at each macro in detail.

Carbohydrates 

Before starting any kind of low-carb diet such as keto, your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose and uses that as its main form of energy.

Your organs need an energy source to function properly. In most cases, glucose is the main source.

If you starve yourself of carbohydrates, your body still has the ability to make glucose from proteins through a process called gluconeogenesis.

Carbs are much more than the main energy source of most people and they have other jobs as well.

Carbs can help synthesize amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein as well as help in eliminating waste due to fiber content in some foods.

Fiber is a form of carbohydrate, but it can’t be broken down in your digestive system. 

So, while fiber is not responsible for giving you energy, but it does help you clear your body of waste while keeping your intestinal tract in tip-top shape.

There are two different kinds of carbs. Simple carbs and complex carbs, and it’s important to know the difference between the two.

Simple Carbohydrates

Simple carbs can easily break down glucose for energy. Usually found in sweet food like sugar, fruit, honey, and more, 

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbs will take longer to break down than simple carbs. 

You’ll find complex carbs in starchy or grainy food such as pasta, rice, vegetables, brands, and more.

These kinds of carbs normally contain fiber unless they have gone through processing. 

Processed carbs, like bread, and rice are easier to digest and act similar to a simple carbohydrate by releasing glucose fast. 

Protein

The main function of protein is to help build, grow and repair muscle tissue while acting as a protector of the breakdown of lean muscle mass.

Amino acids are known as the building blocks of protein, and there are two types, non-essential and essential amino acids.

Non-essential Amino Acids

These amino acids are made naturally within your body.

Essential Amino Acids

Essential amino acids need to be acquired through food to get them into your body. 

If essential amino acids aren’t needed, your body can convert them into non-essential amino acids.

Foods rich in protein are:

  • Meats
  • Dairy
  • Poultry
  • Other types of animal by-product foods
  • Beans, seeds, & nuts

Fat

Although it gets a bad rap, fat is essential to the body and has many functions. 

Many people who say fat is bad or only should consume a small amount daily aren’t fully aware of all that fat can do for your body if the right kinds of fat are consumed.

Your body can do the following things with fat:

  • Store energy
  • Make hormones
  • Absorb vitamins
  • Cushion certain organs
  • Strengthens cell membranes

The three types of fat you should know about play a key role in your health, and you should know about all of them and what they can be found in.

These three fat types are trans, saturated, and unsaturated fat. 

Let’s take a look at all 3:

Trans Fat

Trans fat should be avoided in your diet as they are a modified version of unsaturated fat through the addition of molecules. 

You can find trans fat in margarine, processed baked food, and food that’s fried. Read the label and avoid trans fat if you see it included.

Saturated Fat

Saturated fat has been shown to increase cholesterol as well as heart disease risks in high quantities. 

Keeping a close eye on saturated fat is a good idea when on a ketogenic diet as most of the food you’ll be eating will be high in fat.

You can find saturated fat in the following food:

  • Fatty cuts of meat like beef, pork & lamb
  • Full-fat dairy products like milk, cream, and butter

If you have a normal 2,000 calorie diet, you should keep your saturated fat intake to around 5% of that, which is 100 calories or 11-12 grams a day.

Unsaturated Fat

Known as the “healthy” fat, unsaturated fat has been shown to decrease heart disease

You can find unsaturated fat in the following foods:

  • Avocados
  • Nuts & nut butters like almond
  • Oils like coconut and olive
  • Fatty fish like salmon, sardines & tuna

Yes, fat has a higher calorie count than protein and carbs, but the satiety levels when consuming fat are a lot higher as well.

This means you get to have delicious food and eat less of it overall, leading to weight loss.

Keto Macronutrients For Weight Loss – Carb, Protein, Fat Ratios

To follow the ketogenic diet guidelines properly, you need a specific split of each of the macronutrients.

Here’s the breakdown you should follow on keto:

  • Carbs: 5% of total daily calories
  • Protein: 20% of total daily calories
  • Fat: 75% of total daily calories

This combination can help you achieve your weight loss goals on the keto diet.

While each person has a different starting point, if you know how many calories you should be eating each day to be in a caloric deficit, following a high-fat diet will make you into a fat-burning machine.

Downloading a fitness app to track your calories will help give you an idea, at least initially, what you can and can’t eat.

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