In this article we will discuss what macronutrients are, and we will also delve in to the basics of protein feedings. If you are reading this however and you currently don’t understand calorie intake, calorie control and how to read food labels we recommend you start there as that should be your first priority.
Macronutrients are the main category of nutrients we need within our body and they come in three forms – protein, carbohydrate and fat. Alcohol is also a macronutrient as is it is broken down and used as energy also. All macros multiply out and combine to make up the calorie total, a calorie total then equals the amount of energy you could possibly derive from a certain food. Carbohydrates in the form of glucose or glycogen are a pre-cursor for creating ATP, the bodies main energy source. Fat can also be used for energy creation, and is also essential for things such as hormonal function and overall health.
1g Protein = 4kcal
1g Carb = 4kcal
1g Fat = 9kcal
(1g Alcohol = 7kcal)
A food label may read:
Energy: 190kcal (dont worry about the kj figure on a label)
10g Fat (10g x 9kcal p/gram = 90kcal)
20g Carb (20g x 4kcal p/gram = 80kcal)
5g Protein (5g x 4kcal p/gram = 20kcal)
90 + 80 + 20 = 190kcal (YOUR TOTAL)
Calories (kcal) is a figure to determine the energy available in food. Why I stated above that it equals a “POSSIBLE” amount of energy you could derive from a certain food is because absorption of nutrients doesn’t take place by just eating food and putting it in your mouth. Absorption and assimilation (use) of nutrients is where we get energy. The level of absorption of these nutrients that you have relies on a host of external factors such as:
- The health of your gut
- The health of your digestive system
- How much you chew food (this is the first stage of digestion)
- Eating in a relaxed and low stressed state
- Ensuring the food is good quality and avoiding any major causes of inflammation
All of these are judged by, and ensured by other various concepts that we will discuss in future posts.
Next we will discuss protein intake, and protein servings/feedings. When we look at protein intake the “ideal” range you’ll see recommended is approx 2g per pound or double your bodyweight in kilos. However things such as your training level and level of lean muscle mass play a role in how much you need. So for most people starting out, or taking on a structured nutrition approach for the first time I encourage them to have 4-5 protein feedings of 20-40g (depending on gender and size) spread through out the day. Why we want such a large amount per meal is we are looking for a muscle protein synthesis (MPS) response with each feeding. This is basically the catalyst to signal for muscle growth (or when you are dieting in a calorie deficit – muscle sparring to prevent muscle lose when losing weight). When trying to change your physique or body composition this concept is essential.
Remember most peoples goal is VISUAL and its not actually about what you weigh, its about how you look. This is determined by the ratio of muscle mass to fat mass you have, which the above MPS concept strongly effects.
Remember nutrition is always context dependant and is very individual, but these are great general starting points for people – especially if you are new to this.