Eat Your Macros - NOT calories! How to balance your diet

by - November 27, 2018

I always try to balance my meals, not necessary counting silly calories as we are taught to do but instead looking at the macronutrient content. Each of our body's macro requirements is different, but this also depends on whether you are trying to lose or gain weight, or bulk up. 

For example, my body (and I) LOVE carbohydrates! I used to follow a low carb diet which never worked for me. It took me a long time to realise that this misperception may not necessarily be the truth for me, to let this go and change my eating habits. 

Hence, my meals tend to be quite filling and balanced in their macronutrient content. In this blog, I simply explain to help you understand the importance of balancing the protein, carb, and fat content in your diet. I also try to help you understand why you should be prioritising the macros over calories while learning and discovering the right sources for each macronutrient.


Eat Your Macros - NOT calories! How to balance your diet

What is a calorie?
A calorie is a unit of energy, essential for the human body and health. Our body needs calories to survive, and without energy, our cells would die. The key is in eating the right amount of calories and from the right sources. Each one of us requires a different amount of energy per day depending on our age, size, gender, activity level and goal.
What is a nutrient?
Our bodies are constantly active, even while at rest. We move, we think and we breathe, non-stop. To fuel all of these activities we need chemical substances called nutrients. These nutrients are found in food and provide the energy we need. The key here is to eat the right fuel foods 
What are micronutrients?
Macros – macronutrients are required in larger amounts, and are nutrients that our bodies need to create energy in order to fuel our daily activities. They are what makes the caloric content of a food, and the caloric combination of the macros is where that mysterious overall number of calories (the 'daily allowance') comes from.
Macronutrients are:
  • protein
  • carbohydrates
  • fat
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PROTEIN
1g of protein equals 4 calories
Proteins are made of amino acids, which function as building blocks for cells. Cells need protein to grow and to repair themselves. Your body also uses protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. It is an important building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.
Protein sources: 
  • almonds (peanuts)
  • oats
  • broccoli
  • quinoa
  • lentils and beans
  • tempeh
  • tofu


~ 3/4 cup tempeh: 333 calories = 15.9 g carbs, 19.4 g fat, 30.9 g protein
~ 3/4 block of firm tofu: 311 calories = 6.8 g carbs, 19.9 g fat, 33.7 g protein
~ 100g cooked kidney beans: 127 calories = 22.8 g carbs, 0.5 g fat, 8.7 g protein

CARBS
1g of carbs equals 4 calories
Carbohydrates are foods that get converted into glucose (sugar), in our bodies during digestion. Although glucose is a form of sugar it is also our main source of fuel. Other fuel sources (from fat or protein) are not as efficient as carbohydrates to produce energy.

Simple carbohydrates – the ‘bad’ carbs are what you want to avoid: sugary foods such as processed sugar, baked goods, commercial cereals, cookies, honey, and dairy products.

Complex carbohydrates – the ‘good’ carbs’ that you do want to include in your diet, are: 
  • grains (amaranth, barley, quinoa, millet, couscous, rye, buckwheat)
  • starchy vegetables (corn, peas, white and sweet potatoes, squash)
  • wholewheat bread
  • brown rice
  • oats
  • chickpeas
  • beans
  • lentils
~ 2 medium baked sweet potatoes: 200 calories = 46 g carbs, 0.3 g fat, 4.5 g protein

~ 1-1/2 medium baked potato: 241 calories = 54.9 g carbs, 0.3 g fat, 6.5 g protein

~ 1-3/4 cup of cooked oatmeal: 291 calories = 49.1 g carbs, 6.2 g fat, 10.4 g protein

~ 1-1/4 cup cooked quinoa: 278 calories = 49.3 g carbs, 4.4 g fat, 10.2 g protein

~ 1 cup cooked brown rice: 216 calories = 44.8 g carbs, 1.8 g fat, 5 g protein

FAT
1g of fat equals 9 calories
Your body also needs fat, the so-called ‘good’ fat delivered from real food. Fat is a major source of energy, it helps you absorb some important vitamins and minerals. It is needed to build the exterior part of your cells and is essential for blood clotting, muscle movement, and inflammation.
Fat Sources:
  • avocados
  • flaxseeds
  • walnuts
  • canola oil
  • soybean
  • vegetable oils (sunflower, walnut, and corn oils)
  • coconut oil
~ 1/4 cup of cashews: 314 calories = 17.1 g carbs, 25 g fat, 10.3 g protein
~ 3/4 avocado: 241 calories =  12.9 g carbs, 22.1 g fat, 3 g protein

~ 2 tbsp peanut butter: 210 calories =  6 g carbs, 16 g fat, 7 g protein

~ 1-1/2 tbsp olive oil: 180 calories = 0 g carbs, 21 g fat, 0 g protein

~ 1/2 cup almonds: 275 calories = 9.4 g carbs, 24.1 g fat, 10.1 g protein


Eat Your Macros - NOT calories! How to balance your diet

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