Go back 3 to 4 years and not many people would have known what macronutrient ratio meant.
But in the world of information overload and free education, pretty much everyone knows about Protein, Carbs, and Fats.
A quick reminder - What are Macronutrients (Macros)?
In the context of health and fitness, macronutrients are most often defined to be the chemical compounds that humans consume in large quantities that provide bulk energy. Specifically, they refer to carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
Micronutrients on the other hand, are an essential part of human nutrition and consist of vitamins and dietary minerals such as Vitamin A, copper, iron, and iodine. While macronutrients are necessary daily in amounts in the order of grams, humans typically only need fewer than 100 milligrams of micronutrients each day.
Proteins are organic compounds comprised of amino acids, and are one of the types of macronutrients. Amino acids are essential to a person's well-being, and there are certain amino acids that can only be obtained through diet. These amino acids are typically referred to as "essential amino acids," and are obtained by humans and other animals through the consumption of protein.
There are numerous sources of protein, both animal (meat, dairy, etc.) and plant-based (beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, etc.). There also exist protein supplements that are sometimes used by people who are trying to build muscle.
Carbohydrates, often referred to as simply "carbs," are compounds that are typically classified as sugar, starch, or fibre. Sugar is the simplest form of carbohydrate, while starch and fibre are complex carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are often also classified based on the number of saccharides that comprise them: monosaccharides, disaccharides, oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides. Monosaccharides and disaccharides are often referred to as "simple carbohydrates," while oligosaccharides and polysaccharides are referred to as "complex carbohydrates."
Glucose is a monosaccharide and is one of the key sources of energy for humans, as well as other animals. Polysaccharides such as cellulose cannot be easily metabolized by many organisms, including humans, but can still provide them with valuable dietary fibers, which helps with digestion. Too many carbohydrates in the form of sugar (common in processed foods) can have negative health effects, but more complex carbohydrates (from vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, etc.), particularly those that provide dietary fibres, are beneficial, and necessary for the human body.
Fats are molecules that are comprised primarily of carbon and hydrogen atoms. Common examples include cholesterol, phospholipids, and triglycerides. Although fats, in the context of nutrition, are typically viewed as unhealthy, they have both structural as well as metabolic functions, and are a necessary part of the human diet. They are also highly energy dense and are the most efficient form of energy storage.
Fats are typically classified based on the bonding of carbon atoms. In terms of dietary fats, the most commonly referenced fats include saturated fats, unsaturated fats, trans fats, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and omega-3 fatty acids. Generally, saturated and trans fats are considered unhealthy fats, while monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and omega-3 fatty acids are considered to be healthier, better sources of fat for the body.
Daily Calorie Needs
The number of calories a person needs to consume on a daily basis is mainly based on a number of factors including height, weight, age, and activity level, along with whether the person wants to maintain, lose, or gain weight.
As carbohydrates, proteins, and fats provide nearly the entire energy needs of the human body, their daily needs can be calculated based on the total daily caloric need.
Do you happen to know your total calorie intake as these change particularly for women as they age, but also depending on how much exercise you do and the type of body composition you want to achieve?
To see your own personal macro ratios, you can use this website (here) Using a macro counting app helps you to see an overview of whether your ratios are balanced.
Here's an example of the macros defined as grams:
WHAT ARE MICRONUTRIENTS?
These are the tiny minerals and vitamins that nourish your cells and feed your brain. Micronutrients are crucial. They are the tiny trace minerals and vitamins that come from the soil your food is grown in and act as spark plugs – or ‘co-enzymes’ – that make your fundamental bodily processes work. Absorbability is key so gut health and balance is important here. You need to absorb a constant stream of broad-spectrum micronutrients to produce neurotransmitters, maintain hormone balance and regulate your digestive tract and stress responses. Absorbing micronutrients also helps your body assimilate and utilize the macronutrients in the foods you eat. You need less than 100 mcgs per day of these crucial trace minerals and vitamins, but they support your mind and body from the core.
HOW IS YOUR BRAIN USING THEM?
Here are just a few examples:
ZINC: Helps maintain a positive outlook, manages stress responses and ensures focus. Also plays a pivotal role in digestion. MANGANESE: An antioxidant required for the synthesis of two key neurotransmitters. Essential for nerve and brain function. CHROMIUM: Aids in glucose metabolism, helps maintain blood sugar balance (for people whose blood sugar is already in a normal range) and supports a positive outlook. IODINE: Supports the synthesis of thyroid hormones, supporting CNS (Central Nervous System) and regulating metabolism. VITAMIN B12: Fundamental for mood and energy balance, maintaining memory and producing neurotransmitters. VITAMIN D: Involved in regulating glucose and calcium transport to and within the brain. May help protect clear cognition by increasing the availability of neurotransmitters.
WANT TO FIRE ON ALL CYLINDERS?
Your brain needs a steady stream of minerals. Basically, what we are referring to here is eating lots and lots of vegetables, in particular your greens.
Vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds are the richest source of micronutrients we can get, as are good quality cuts of meat and fish.
Get this right and you needn’t worry about your macronutrients too much.
“But I don’t like veggies”
Often we don’t like running up a hill 5 times in order to get faster but we'll do it.
So concentrate on making your veggies tasty and finding new ways to add more and more of them to your diet. Get the balance right and you should feel a difference in how you are able to tackle your training, the energy you generate and decreased recovery times.