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Nutrition 101 - What are my macronutrients?

Good nutrition is of course, key to good health. We need the right food like a car needs the right fuel to run efficiently. An easy way to ensure that we manage this without complicating things too much, is to balance our meals in terms of our macronutrients. This means including a serve of carbohydrates, proteins and fats on our plate. Knowing what your macronutrients are will not only help you create healthy meals at home but it also allows you to zero in on the best choices when you're eating out. Let's talk about macronutrients in more depth.

FATS

Let’s first clear any confusion about fats, oils and cholesterol. The most important aspect to consider about fats is how they've been processed. The general rule is that the more processed a food is, the further it is from how nature intended it to be consumed and as a result, the harder it is for our bodies to assimilate it.

Go for fats in their simplest, raw form.

Any fat that has been treated with high to super-high heat oxidises and becomes dangerous to consume. Many chemicals such as trans-fats and acrylamide are produced through heating.


Natural fats are an important part of our diet and key to blood sugar balance and hormone production. They also reduce inflammation, omega 3's lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease and cancer.


When it comes to cholesterol - remember that this is only a cause for concern when combined with obesity, stress and blood sugar issues. Cholesterol actually serves a hugely positive role in the body, without which we wouldn’t be able to make various essential hormones like vitamin D. Keep fibre intake high to help manage your cholesterol levels.


Best sources of fats

  • avocados

  • raw and soaked nuts and seeds

  • cold-pressed oils

  • organic free-range eggs and poultry

  • organic grass-fed butter and meats

  • fermented dairy

  • sustainable wild-caught seafood


What is a serving size?

  • 1/2 a medium avocado

  • Two free-range eggs

  • 1 tbsp of cold-pressed oil

  • A small handful of nuts or 1 tsp of chia seeds, 1 tbsp of flaxseed or hemp seeds

  • 100gm (palm sized piece) of wild-caught salmon or free-range beef

  • 1 flat tbsp of nut butter

Aim for a few serves a day in addition to what you use for cooking.


CARBOHYDRATES


Carbohydrates are your friend. Whole, unprocessed carbs are good for us. Refined carbohydrates and simple sugars, on the other hand, are best had only occasionally. They’re nutrient-dead, deprive us of essential B vitamins and lead us into a vicious cycle of cravings that can result in poor sugar metabolism, insulin resistance, dysbiosis (bad gut bacteria) and weight gain. Sugar is actually one of the main causes of heart disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and high cholesterol. When eating carbs, the best way to maintain stable blood sugar is to combine them with proteins and fats.

When most people think about carbohydrates, they’re inclined to think bread, grains and legumes. They forget that vegetables and fruits are also carbs.

It’s ok to limit or avoid glutinous grains if you don't tolerate them well, but never forget the importance of seasonal, colourful vegetables. Generally, digestive issues linked to grains or legumes arise from poor digestion and problems with digestion are often the result of stress and a history of too many refined, poor-quality grains in bread, flour, pastries, pizzas and pasta.


Whole grains and legumes provide carbohydrates for energy production and many natural chemicals and food sources for your microbiome (gut bacteria) which heal and protect the gut.


Best sources of carbohydrates (and FIBRE!)
  • Fruits, veggies and whole grains.

Some fruits and vegetables are more starchy in nature and higher in carbohydrates like:

  • potatoes

  • pumpkin

  • beetroot

  • carrots

  • sweet potato

  • parsnips

  • bananas

  • dates

On the other hand, other veggies such as leafy greens, eggplant, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, and cucumber are significantly lower in carbs.


What is a serving size?
  • ½ cup cooked grains or legumes (rice, lentils, chickpeas, barley, millet, oats etc.)

  • 1 -2 slices of bread (ideally wholegrain, sourdough or sprouted bread)

  • 1 cup potato, sweet potato, peas, corn, beetroot, parsnips, carrots or pumpkin

  • 1 piece of fruit (limit dried fruits or concentrated fruit juices)

  • Don't be shy to eat non-starchy vege with every meal!

  • Starchy carbs are great for energy.


PROTEIN

Protein is particularly important because it is made up of amino acids that help us repair, keep us satiated, balance our blood sugars and provide the building blocks for our immune system, muscles, brain chemicals and hormones.


If choosing animal proteins, remember that meats are acidic in nature so choose a variety of proteins including plant-based ones.


A serving of protein is maximum 20-25 grams because this is about how much we are able to break down and absorb in one sitting.



Best sources of protein

  • seafood (wild-caught and sustainable where possible)

  • eggs (free-range, organic ideally)

  • tempeh (non-GM, organic)

  • legumes

  • nuts and seeds

  • vegan or grass-fed protein powders

  • poultry

  • meats

(Note: You'll also get some protein from grains.)


What is a serving size?

Aim for 1 gm per kilogram of ideal body weight per day. (i.e. If you weigh 70kg, then you need 70gm of protein daily.)


Here is the approximate amount of protein in certain foods:

  • 100g of seafood, poultry, meats or tempeh = 20 to 25g

  • two eggs = 16g

  • a handful of nuts and seeds = 8g

  • small tub of yoghurt = 10g

  • ½ cup of lentils = 10g


What about dairy as a protein source?

Dairy *can* be inflammatory, mucus-forming and challenging to digest for many. There are superior ways to get enough protein but if you enjoy dairy, the key is to source fermented options such as kefir and yoghurt or buffalo, goat or sheep over cow dairy as these tend to be more easily digested.



Need some more support with your diet? You can book a naturopathic dietary analysis or nutritional consultation via the Kiyah Clinic. While we don't believe in restrictive diets we can help you better understand what foods suit you as an individual with unique needs.


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