Activ8 Advice: Macronutrients & Food Choices
By PCYC Deception Bay Gym+Fitness Trainer, Jade Parker
Macronutrients are what make up your calorie intake and are the underlying factors as to why some of us may gain weight whilst eating healthily, or why others lose weight whilst making poorer food choices.
Macronutrients include proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Here’s a little rule to remember:
Protein = 4kcal/1g
Carbohydrates = 4kcal/1g
Fats = 9kcal/g
This does not necessarily mean that 1g of chicken is equal to four calories. Every food is made up of different ingredients and cooking methods also affect this. 100g of chicken (uncooked) actually has 23g of protein, although still has 1g of fat.
So, a high protein source of food still contains other macronutrients. This is the same for pasta and bread. People think these foods are carbohydrates, although they contain other macronutrients however, the percentages and calories also depends on the brands, type, time cooked, and how they are cooked. Apps such as MyFitnessPal do this all for you though!
Food Choices for Each Macronutrient
This macronutrient is an amino acid and source of fuel that is vital for health, enzymes, A/B balance, transport and antibodies. It kicks in when your carbohydrates are depleted during exercise. The body is unable to oxidise protein as a nitrogen component macromolecule. Having a high protein, low carbohydrate diet may suppress the appetite due to the satiety and combining a high protein diet with resistance training may result in a loss of fat mass.
- Healthy options: fish, steak, mince, turkey, whey protein, egg white and beef,
- Unhealthy options: plant-based protein options
Carbohydrates take about four hours to be digested and are used as an energy source. Not only are they an energy source though, they are brain fuel and stored as glycogen in skeletal muscle to be used first for high intensity, short burst exercise activities as they improve performance.
- Healthy options: rice, pasta, breads, vegetables and fruits
- Unhealthy options: everything that tastes good like cakes, lollies, biscuits etc
Whilst carbohydrates dominate in high intense, short bursts of exercise, fats dominate
in long duration, low intensity exercise. They are also the predominant fuel source as they are lightweight and kick in when glycogen stores are depleted due to being an ideal cellular fuel. Not only all of these benefits, it produces the most energy when oxidised.
- Healthy options: nuts, egg yolk, avocado, oils
- Unhealthy options: transfat oils
As long as you are hitting your macronutrient intake, and are getting a wide range of 80% healthy foods into your body each day, flexible dieting will generally be a better lifestyle option for you.