Macronutrients 101 (All you need to know in under 800 words!)

It’s the post-holiday season again and folks are tip-toeing into their local gyms looking to start over and create resolutions dealing with body images – too fat, too small, too thin, too weak, too flabby, too __insert topic du jour____

A topic that has created plenty of confusion are the macronutrients of food.  Simply put; food, all food on this planet, can be categories into 3 and a half categories.


The first category is protein. Basically anything that at one point had eyes and parents will fall into this category.  Fish, Fowl, Beef are the most common forms of protein you will find in a grocery store.

For consumed protein to be utilized, first it must breakdown into amino acids.  We all remember from our high school biology classes that amino acids are the “building blocks of life.”  This still holds true.  The body utilizes 20 amino acids.  Of these 20, 12 are categorized as Non-Essential.  Which means the body can make these on its own.

What we are most concerned with are the other 8 which are called the Essential Amino Acids , EAA’s (note: whenever the word Essential is used as it pertains to the body ,this means that it MUST get these nutrients from an external source to survive)

Ok, so you have these 8 EAA’s, now what?  These 8 EAA’s go to work and repair cells.  Muscle cells, hair cells, skin cells, organ cells etc.  Every type of cell in the human body is dependent on these 8 EAA’s.

The dilemma becomes when there a scarcity of these EAA’s.  Because the body lacks the ability to store proteins or EAA’s, it starts to steal them from the muscles and organs.  How horrible!!!  Imagine you’re trying to use your body to walk, talk, play golf, lift weights, dance, exercise, study etc, yet your body is cannibalizing itself!  Do you think you can perform to your potential in this state?  Of course not!  For athletes this is the number one cause of fatigue and a significant cause of injuries.

At the minimum – everyday humans should eat 1g of protein for every lbs of bodyweight. 150lb person should eat 150g of protein every day.  Athletes requiring more repair, can push their protein intake to 1.5g/lb.  To put this in perspective, bodybuilders, who demand the most repair nutrients, need to consume in excess of 2 grams/day.

Carbs and Fats

The second and third macro-nutrient categories are carbohydrates and fats.  I group these together because for our purposes the body uses these for one sole reason – ENERGY!  If you remember the protein you ate above needs to breakdown into amino acids and get to the cells, fats and carbs (which the body converts into glucose) provide the required energy for this process to occur.  THAT’S IT!  Unlike proteins though, any excess carbs and fats are stored on the body as body fat.

So if by chance you happen to be a person with love handles, caked on hamstring cellulite, or visceral abdominal fat, you acquired these conditions solely based on eating excess energy in the form of fats and carbohydrates.

Now look at the American ‘obesity’ dilemma, it’s not actually an obesity issue, as much as it is an abundance of glucose dilemma.  People are walking around with body fat that is waiting to be tapped into for protein breakdown.  Yet the typical diet, reinforced by our all knowing government, says that we need 6x’s more whole grain carbohydrates than we need proteins.

Green Leafy Veggies

The final 1/2 category green leafy vegetables are technically a carbohydrate, but we can categorize them as special carbohydrates because the body expends more energy in digestion than they can provide.  Additionally they clean out the intestinal tract providing cleaning of the receptor sites thus increasing the uptake of all other nutrients in the system.  Essentially creating a superfood situation where the food you eat becomes better and more efficiently utilized.

To Summarize

  • Eat the ideal amount of protein for your bodyweight daily in order to have enough EAA’s for healthy cellular repair.
  • The conversion or breakdown of proteins into EAA’s requires energy.
  • Limiting the intake of carbs and fats to times prior to activity ensures that the energy eaten will be used for the activity.
  • When eating prior to sedentary times, substitute carbs and fats on your plate with green leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, asparagus, kale, green beans etc, to increase metabolic activity yet not increase body fat stores.
  • Lack of protein creates a scarcity of EAA’s, which lowers healthy muscle mass, thus reducing the metabolic rate, combine this with a typical high carb and fat meal quickly begins to increase bodyfat stores.

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