Fork This! Finding Food Freedom Using Macronutrients

by | Jun 27, 2015 | Nutrition | 5 comments

Macronutrients.
 
This is the name used by every doctor, dietitian, nutritionist and health enthusiast in the world to describe, as a whole, the three types of food we eat: proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
It’s pretty amazing when you think about it…every single food, or food combination, can be broken down by macronutrients. Put another way, if it’s food and you eat it, it has macros. Lets take cheese pizza, for example…low in protein compared to the other macros, and high in fats and carbs. How do we know this? We look at the nutritional value of all the components. No different than looking at labels while grocery shopping.
Yep, this feels pretty simple and non-threatening. Until you stop and think, “well, what should I be eating? I heard fats were no good and I really should lower my carbs because I just read that somewhere”…and now the panic sets in…you are not comfortable with any food choice so you grab the cheese pizza until some good decisions can be made. How can choosing the best food for you be made easier?
I hear and read a lot of differing opinions regarding the best way to eat and which diet plan to follow. Most of the people I hear from have a sincere interest in eating healthy, but they just don’t know how. Does healthy eating mean being a vegetarian? Does healthy eating mean existing on steaks, fats and a few vegies? I don’t know about you but I have had times in my life where I was really overwhelmed by what to eat. I was confused. TMI. Everything I read made sense biologically so why couldn’t I just make it fit in my life? Let’s dig a bit deeper…
Diet books, plans and theories are the middlemen of how we need to eat. These books come between us and food and instruct us that if we eat according to their plan, we can become healthy, lose weight and feel great. Then they give it a name….Paleo, Atkins, Zone Diet, High Carb Daily Meal Plan, Eating Vegan…..the list is huge. There are doctrines I appreciate about these diets. The majority of them favor such things as eating real food, cutting back on processed food, buying local….these are great principles that I support. They just make good sense.
Underneath the name of the diet plan, though, we are left with a fundamental fact of life…macronutrients. Each of these diets is arranged in such a way as to provide a certain amount of proteins, a certain amount of fats and a certain amount of carbohydrates. The Paleo Diet, for example, uses high protein and fats with low carbs for the premise of their plan, roughly 40% proteins, 35% good fats and 25% carbs. This is why all of the diets will work for one person, but not another person.
All people have varying needs and require more or less of each macro to provide the right mix of fuel for their particular body. When one diet doesn’t work, they try another. And another. Finally, they get burned out on what to eat. It becomes too stressful to understand and their health is cast aside in favor of eating whatever they are craving at the moment.
If we are all so individual, how can one way of eating work for all of us? It can’t. But instead of picking through thousands of diet strategies, trying diet after diet to see if it works, why not just cut to the chase? Why not go the underlying principle of each and every diet book on the market? Why not learn how to understand your macro needs based on your own bio-individualism? Seriously, if you feel great eating 35% proteins, 35% fats and 30% carbs, it doesn’t have to be called anything other than…………wait for it……….eating.
Big significant question here, folks…..how do you feel when you eat what you do?
Think about this for a minute….does eating a meal give you energy? Does it make you feel sleepy? Does it leave you wanting more food? Do you get cravings after certain meals? All of the answers to these questions are clues to adjusting your macronutrients.
I am not a doctor. I am not a dietitian. I am not a biologist. What I do have going for me, though, is that I am a human being and I need to eat food to fuel my body. I don’t need a degree to tell me how I feel when I eat food.
Example: I love eggs but I found out I have a sensitivity to them. Yes, I think they are great and they happen to be a favorite food of mine. When I eat them, though, I become sleepy, lethargic and they make my stomach hurt a little. This is a big clue! So they are off my food roster for now.  The same thing happens to me when I eat starchy carbs. I still eat them, but much less, and now I feel good eating them. This is coming from the woman who has spent her entire life eating low carb. I had no idea that I needed carbs until I started analyzing my macros. By lowering my protein just a little and upping my carb intake, I started being fueled by my food, not depleted by it. Talk about food freedom! I can eat just about anything as long as I respect the macros. And so can you.
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