Low carb, no carb, ketogenic, low fat diets are all based on a specific macronutrient split. All of them makes you lose weight. Too bad that all of the macronutrients are vital for our health and ditching one of them could be detremental for your well being. Let’s see why.
WHAT ARE MACRONUTRIENTS
Nutrients are environmental substances used for energy, growth, and bodily functions by organisms. Depending on the nutrient, these substances are needed in small or large amounts. Those needed in large amounts are called macronutrients.
There are three macronutrients required by humans: proteins, fats, carbohydrates. Each of these macronutrients provides energy in the form of calories:
- 1g of PROTEIN – 4 kcal
- 1g of FAT – 9 kcal
- 1g of CARBOHYDRATE – 4kcal
WHY WE NEED ALL OF THEM?
Protein is necessary for tissue repair and for the construction of new tissue. If you are dreaming about that toned body, you better eat your protein.
Your skin, hair and nails are made of protein. In order to maintain your skin elasticity, your hair and nails healthy and shiny, you need to get sufficient protein in your diet.
Protein is the most satiating macronutrient, because it takes more time to digest and keeps your blood sugar levels stable.
Protein deficiency can result in saggy and wrinkly skin, brittle nails, dull and thinning hair, water retention and low immune system.
Best protein sources:
Animal sources: red meats, pork, poultry, fish ,seafood, eggs.
Dairy: cheese (parmesan, cheddar, mozzarella), cottagge cheese, greek yogurt, skyr.
Plant sources: seitan, soy (tofu, tempeh, edamame), quorn, legumes, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, hempseed, chia seeds, spirulina. Vegan dairy substitutes.
Fats are the building blocks of healthy cell membranes, that help produce the skin’s natural barrier, keep your skin hydrated, plump and young.
Fat helps the body maintain a healthy temperature and protects vital organs from damage, this is the main reason why women have higher percentages of bodyfat compared to men.
Fat is vital for hormone production, blood glucose regulation, insulin response and vitamin A, D, E and K absorbtion.
Fat brings the taste to your food and helps keep you full longer, because it slows digestion, that’s why people feel so hungry on a low fat diet, regardless of total calorie intake.
Dietary fat deficiency can result in skin problems like acne, eczema and wrinkles, hair loss, brittle nails. also vision issues, low concentration, low mental energy, learning disability.
Severe dietary fat restriction is correlated with amenorea (mestrual cycle loss) in women.
Best dietary fat sources:
Monounsaturated (MUFA): olives and olive oil, avocados, nuts (almonds, cashews, pecans, macadamias) and nut butters, chocolate.
Polyunsaturated (PUFA): wallnuts, sunflower and flax seeds and oils, fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna, trout).
Saturated: coconut and coconut oil, grass fed meats and butter, cheese, egg yolks.
Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose. All cells in the human body depend on glucose. This makes carbohydrates the body’s number one energy source. The brain and nervous system runs directly on glucose.
Carbohydrates play a huge role in post workout recovery and reducing DOMS (Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness, which simply means muscle soreness after a workout).
Carbohydrates stimulates serotonin production in your brain, thus makes you feel happy, relaxed and helps you sleep better.
Carbohydrate deficiency can result in exhaustion, irritability, headaches, insomnia, muscle aches and cramps, lack of concentration and mental sharpness, constipation , vitamin and mineral deficiency’s.
Severe carbohydrate restriction can result in chronic fatigue in long term.
Best carbohydrate sources
Starchy: potatoes, sweet potatoes, quinoa, grains (rice, buckwheat, barley, spelt), legumes.
Non starchy: most vegetables and all fruits.
HOW TO SET UP YOUR MACRONUTRIENTS
- 1g per 1kg of bodyweight – sedentary woman. Overweight woman falls in this range as well, regardless if they train or not (their protein needs might increase after they reach healthy body weight.)
- 1.5 – 2g per 1kg of bodyweight – woman lifting weights on a regular basis , trying to increase lean body mass and lose fat (most of us).
- 2 – 2.5g per 1kg of bodyweight – elite athletes, woman trying to build significant amount of muscle and/ or trying to get to extremely low body fat levels (think bodybuilding competitors).
- 0.5g per 1kg of bodyweight – overweight woman (their fat needs might increase after they reach a healthy body weight.)
- 0.7 – 1g per 1kg of bodyweight – every woman trying to preserve their healthy hormone levels and beauty. This might be higher than some other macro calculators on the internet predicts, but I don’t recomend the amount best suited for people, I recomend the amount best suited for woman, you get the point 😉
Carbohydrates should make up the rest your calories. To know how many calories you need daily. read this article: CALORIE COUNTING. For beginners
Example: Laura trains with weights 3 times per week, her weight is 63 kg (a healthy weight for her height) and her TDEE is 1924 kcal.
Laura needs about 2 grams per 1 kilogram of bodyweight:
2×63=126g of protein;
1g of protein provides 4 kcal:
She needs about 1 gram per 1 kilogram of bodyweight:
1×63=63g of fat;
1g of fat provides 9 kcal:
The rest of the calories:
TDEE-protein kcal-fat kcal=carbohydrate kcal;
1g of carbohydrates provide 4 kcal:
583/4=213g of carbohydrates.
Note: these are only general guidelines, you will have to make adjustments through self observation, you might preffer lower fat and higher carbohydrate intake, or vice versa.
Now that you see how vital each of macronutrient is, I hope that you will see all the mainstream diets from a new perspective. Of course, all of them makes you lose weight (no carb, low carb, low fat, paleo, vegan) not because they are magic, or because we are not “supposed” to eat certain foods, but because by restricting your food choises, they restrict your calories, therefore your macronutrient intake, some of these diets might be dangerous for your health (and looks) in a long run.
I know, counting macronutrients might seem complicated at first, but unlike most overly restrictive diets that don’t even work, learning how food can work with your body, not against it, is extremely liberating.
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