Eating well starts with understanding the basics of nutrition. Understanding the basics of nutrition requires you to understand two very important groupings - micronutrients (small) and macronutrients (big). We require both to survive and we can manipulate our intake to thrive (pretty cool!)
Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals found in foods eg. vitamin c or vitamin D. There are trace amounts of micronutrients in food, some with higher micronutrient content like vegetables and some with lower micronutrient content like white rice.
Macronutrients on the other hand make up the bulk of food and are classified under three categories - carbohydrates, fats and protein. When we think of carbohydrates we might think of pasta, when we think of fats we may think of butter and when we think of protein we may think of meat.
It sounds nice and simple and it should be easy to comprehend but for many it's not and there is a reason why.
Wholefoods such as legumes, nuts, eggs and brocolli contain a mixed ratio of all proteins/fats/carbs. For example a chickpea is comprised of approx. 25% carbs, 5% fat and 20% protein. So when we look at a wholefood healthy meal like a on-trend buddha bowl it can be a little overwhelming to mentally calculate your macro's when starting out.
Let's compare this to say steak, chips, salad and mayo - we can clearly see the protein is coming from the steak, carbs from the chips, high micro's from the salad and fats from the mayo.
Now you may be thinking macro's are so new to me I didn't even know chips were carbs! And that is okay! We didn't get taught all of this at school so you are not the only one thinking it.
To get your head around macro's, first understand food groupings, these are the different types of foods we can choose from.
If you were to eat a wholefood diet you would be eating from these groupings
- Nuts and seeds
- Animal products
- Vegetables & fruit & herbs
Seems like a short list but that is the basics of a wholefood diet to which is actually less scary than you first thought to follow.
Now if we categorise these groupings into macro content it may look like this
Protein - meat, fish
Protein/fat - seeds, oily fish, dairy
Fat - oils, avocado, nuts, butter
Carbs - grains, potato, vegetables, fruit, herbs, honey
Carbs/Protein - legumes, grains
Carbs/fats/protein - eggs
What's the ideal ratio?
The ideal ratio of macro's for a healthy individual is equal amounts of carbs, fats and protein. Nice and simple.
Manipulating your macro's
Someone may wish to manipulate their macros for reasons such as weight loss, athletic performance, cognition & memory, pregnancy & breastfeeding. Unless you have a reason to alter macro's there is no need to get caught up in the 'high carb, low fat', 'low fat, high protein' crazes which change from minute to minute.
See don't count your macros
Now that you understand your macro's you can get a start on 'reading' each meal to see if it is balanced. There is no need to count your macro's, we actually discourage it if someone is just trying to maintain general health. Just simply ask yourself before you eat 'Where are my macro's in this meal?'
If you have any questions about your diet, macronutrients or how to implement a change of diet please comment below or book in with one of our qualified and friendly naturopaths for an individualised assessment.
Jennifer Ward, Adv dip Nat, BCom Econ, Masters Repro Med (studying)
Jennifer is a qualified naturopath with a focus on fertility, pregnancy, hormonal imbalances.
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To learn more about macronutrients or for speaking enquires on this topic get in touch at email@example.com