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Nutrition Basics: Part 1: Macronutrients

Happy March! March is National Nutrition Month so I would like to do a series on some more of the “basic” pieces of nutrition, that oftentimes honestly get forgotten or co-opted and confusing with diet culture. Let’s start with macronutrients and focus on them one at a time.

Macro (aka large) means that your body needs these three nutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fat) in larger amounts than micronutrients (we will touch on in another series). These macronutrients are the components of food that the body needs for energy and to maintain systems and structures within the body.

Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred source of energy with 95% of your brain’s activity being fueled by carbohydrates! This group also provides fiber for optimal digestion, as well as B vitamins.

Food sources:

  • Fruit

  • Bagel

  • Pasta

  • Cereal

  • Tortillas

  • Popcorn

  • Rice

  • Potato

  • Starchy vegetables such as corn, peas and winter squash

Proteins contain amino acids, which are essentially the building blocks of your body. By eating protein, you’re providing your body with the ability to heal as needed, to grow to your full potential, and to maintain muscles. Proteins also contain vitamin B12, Magnesium, zinc and iron.

Food sources:

  • Beans

  • Cheese

  • Chicken, beef, pork and fish

  • Eggs

  • Yogurt

  • Cottage cheese

  • Tofu

  • Tempeh

Fats provide the most long lasting energy, permit fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) to be absorbed and utilized, and supports healthy brain function; your central nervous system can’t function effectively without sufficient fat intake.

Food sources:

  • Avocado

  • Bacon

  • Butter and/or oil

  • Cream cheese

  • Salad dressing

  • Mayonnaise

  • Nut butter

  • Olives

  • Pesto

  • Sour cream

In order for your body’s roles and functions to operate optimally, you want to be consuming all three macronutrients at most, if not all of your eating experiences. Any diet or plan that requires you to cut out any major food groups for non-medical reasons should raise a major red flag! Also reminder that “counting macros” is different than being cognizant of your macronutrient intake to ensure you’re eating satisfying and enjoyable meals and snacks; operating on guidelines around your “macros” is still a diet as it is requiring you to operate on external guidelines. You are also not a robot, you are a human! And your wants and needs for these food groups will fluctuate day in and day out, thus practicing more Intuitive Eating and gentle nutrition can help to navigate this.


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