What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word, “dieting”? For many people, it is another word for deprivation. Lots of people believe that to lead a healthy life, they must force themselves to cut down on their favorite foods, and be confined to a life of discontentment.
Leading a life of deprivation is not likely to lead to anything resembling a healthy life. It is also one of the reasons why many individuals fail to achieve their goal of getting in better shape. Dieting, if done in the right manner, can deliver amazing results.
Instead of counting calories, count your MACROS. That way you will still be able to eat the foods you like, while maintaining a healthy diet by effectively cutting down on the right calories.
What are MACROS?
MACROS, or macronutrients, are required in large amounts by our bodies for performing a number of essential functions. The four basic categories of MACROS are protein, carbohydrates, fat, and alcohol.
Here is a breakdown of each macronutrient:
MACRO #1: Protein
Protein is an extremely important MACRO. It is comprised of one or more lengthy chains of amino acids. Each gram of protein contains 4 calories.
Proteins are responsible for a number of important biological functions in our bodies and overall support systems. The major functions of protein are to build, maintain, and repair tissues. Since protein facilitates muscle building, it can help prevent muscle loss while you lose weight.
Sources of protein: meat, lean fish, eggs, egg whites, and dairy products (cheese, milk, yogurt, etc.)
MACRO #2: Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are found in a wide range of both healthy and unhealthy foods. They really are nothing more than molecular chains of sugar, which are broken down to form glucose. Glucose is the primary energy source needed for the heart, brain, and central nervous system to function properly.
Carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram, and come in two distinct types: simple and complex. Simple carbs are ones that are easily digestible, and are found in table sugar, fruits, vegetables, soda, and dairy products. Simple carbs also contain other elements such as fructose, sucrose, lactose, maltose, and galactose.
Complex carbs are composed of multiple chains of sugar. The main difference that separates complex carbs from simple carbs is the amount of fiber each contains. Complex carbohydrates contain a much higher amount of fiber. This is the main reason why consuming complex carbs, which are present in foods like nuts, whole grains, potatoes, lentils, and corn slows down the processes of digestion and absorption.
Sources of carbohydrates: grain, barley, bread, etc.
MACRO #3: Fat
Fats act as a secondary source of energy. They also ensure proper cell function, and maintain hormonal balance. One gram of fat contains 9 calories, and helps in the transmission of vitamins A, D, E, and K throughout the body. Additionally, fats play a significant role in brain development, and can reduce the risk of a stroke.
There are two types of fat: saturated and unsaturated. Unsaturated fat can again be subcategorized into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Unsaturated fats are often called “good fats.”
Sources of fat: avocados, nuts, legumes, oils, etc.
MACRO #4: Alcohol
This comes at the end of the list because it is not an essential MACRO. Since alcohol is not essential, it would be wise to keep your consumption to a minimum. If possible, eliminate it from your diet completely while you are building a diet based strictly on MACROS. One gram of alcohol contains 7 calories.
How to Calculate Your MACROS
One way to measure how many MACROS your body needs is to multiply your bodyweight in pounds (lbs.) by 14-16. Bear in mind, you should select the lower number if losing weight is a difficult task for you. Select the higher one if gaining weight has become a difficult task. Another method is to use the IIFYM Calculator.
Different types of MACROS have different roles to play in the overall development and maintenance of your body.
Because carbohydrates are stored as glucose, and glucose supplies the energy all of your tissues need, carbs are your primary energy source. Proteins are important to maintain the structure of lean or muscular individuals. Like protein, fat is also one of the most essential MACROS. Fat is essential for a series of bodily functions that include shielding certain organs from injury, producing energy, maintaining cells, and a lot more.
If you are considering a comprehensive diet plan for yourself, make sure you find one that will keep you in shape without depriving your body of what it needs most.