The Importance Of Macronutrient Balance In Your Diet
What Are Macronutrients?
What is macronutrient balance, and why should you care? Well, let’s start with a simpler question. What are macronutrients? Simply stated, macronutrients are the things we eat the most. They are the major (macro) food categories, the kinds of foods from which we get the majority of our calories, namely protein, fat and carbohydrates. Some people include water in the list. In contrast, micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, are the substances that our bodies need, but in much smaller (micro) amounts. These are the types of macronutrients that exist:
Proteins can be considered to represent the “building blocks” for our muscles. Composed of amino acid chains, protein performs many vital actions throughout the body. These include blood clotting, fluid balance, the production of specific enzymes, and the creation of red blood cells.
Stored fat is often used as a form of energy, and healthy fats (known as essential fatty acids) can actually help to promote cardiovascular health. Contrary to popular belief, a balanced diet consists of a certain amount of fat on a daily basis.
Carbohydrates can also be used as energy when they are present in excessive amounts. Furthermore, carbohydrates help the body to metabolize protein. A handful of other important functions include building macromolecules and providing us with additional levels of energy during bouts of high-intensity exercise.
What Could Happen If You Do Not Balance Macronutrients?
The practice of balancing macronutrients could well be the source of the term “a balanced diet”. A diet that is wildly imbalanced in macronutrients can make your appetite fluctuate, causing overeating or binge-eating. For example, if you’re not getting enough of one macronutrient, your body might literally be starving on a nutritional level, regardless of how many calories you are consuming. This effect will “force” you to eat by making you hungry all the time in an attempt to give your body what it needs.
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Although a significant imbalance in macronutrients also increases the risk of chronic disease, there is no hard and fast rule for the proper macronutrient balance. Bodies are different and people’s goals are different.
So, what exactly is a balanced macronutrient diet? While proportions may vary, scientists recommend these ratios:
- Carbohydrates (between 45 and 65 per cent)
- Fats (between 20 and 35 per cent).
- Protein (between 10 and 35 per cent).
What is the best macronutrient balance for weight loss?
Knowing how to balance macronutrients is key if you hope to remain at a healthy weight. While it is possible to access an online macro calculator for weight loss, some professional suggestions should be considered. Most experts feel that the best balanced diet should increase protein intake while limiting the amount of fat and complex carbohydrates that are consumed.
Once again, balanced macros will also depend upon factors such as age, body weight, gender, and fitness level. Those who are counting macronutrients for weight loss should therefore use specific online search terms such as “macro diet for older males” or “macros for weight loss female”.
A body-builder, for example, might aim for 40-60% of the diet from carbs, while a person trying to shed body fat might reduce carbs to 10-20% of the total food she eats in a day, compensating by eating more protein. One guideline is that, in no case, should protein be less than 25% of your daily intake and fat should never go below 15% of your total calories.
This is because normal hormone production relies on adequate fat in the diet. Instead of getting your fat from a pint of ice cream, stick to healthier sources of dietary fat such as olives, olive oil, salmon, grass-fed beef, ground flax seeds, tofu, edamame, beans and walnuts.
Some people advise that your ideal macronutrient balance should also take into account your body type. However, it is best to experiment with different dietary regimens in order to determine what works best for you.