Why Macros Matter
“Macros”, short for “macronutrients”, are the key nutrients found in foods that you need to consume in large quantities on a daily basis to keep your body performing as it was meant to.
Let’s look more closely at these nutrients—you might be surprised by what you learn.
Not only do you need to consume protein for your body to make enzymes and hormones, but did you also know you are literally made of protein? Protein is crucial to the growth and development of bones, skin, organs, and blood—your hair and nails are mostly made of protein!
The WHO (World Health Organization) recommends that 10-15% of your daily caloric intake should be protein. Not all proteins are equal . . . . High quality proteins are complete, delivering all of the building blocks your body requires. Low quality proteins are incomplete and you get less bang per gram.
For the athlete and fitness enthusiast, when you consume protein is just as important as how much you consume. Eating protein within 30 minutes to two hours after exercise will help your tired muscles repair more quickly and enhance muscle growth.
Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap over the years—many diet fads have pushed a low-carb regimen—but research indicates that adults require 45-65% of their daily caloric intake come from carbohydrates. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics notes carbs “are the primary fuel source burned for energy during physical activity,” making this nutrient essential for any level of fitness.
Not all carbs are created equal, so it’s important to know what you’re eating. “Good” or “complex” carbs sourced from whole foods, such as whole-grains and legumes, also contain essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs in one neat package. “Bad” or “simple” carbs are hiding in most refined foods, such as white bread and white sugar, where the refining process strips out nutritional value.
Sugar is another hot-button topic these days and it is essential to your health that you understand where sugars are found and how best to consume them.
Sugar is a form of carbohydrate, with the body breaking down carbohydrates into simple sugars the body can access for energy. While sugar occurs naturally in foods like dairy and fruit, it’s also (and more famously) found added to a variety of foods in various quantities, even being listed as the main ingredient in carbonated sodas and breakfast cereals.
Sugar, and its close cousins, like corn syrup – sometimes called high fructose corn syrup – agave nectar, and cane sugar are just a few of the names found on food labels that can contribute to health concerns.
The American Heart Association recommends adult women consume a maximum 6 teaspoons of sugar per day, with men limited to 9 teaspoons. Overconsumption can lead to tooth decay, diabetes, and obesity.
Fiber is not only necessary for your digestive tract to stay healthy and “regular,” but it also helps to maintain low cholesterol and balanced blood sugar levels. You’ll find that fiber is often bundled up as a secondary nutrient in foods high in complex carbs, which is another reason to ensure your diet is full of whole-grains, nuts, and fruits. Typical recommended intake is 25 grams for an adult female and 38 grams for an adult male, but just make sure you are drinking plenty of water to help that fiber do its job.
Fats are the most calorie dense nutrient with each gram of fat delivering 9 calories (compared to 4 calories per gram for protein and carbs) and they are critical to a healthy body. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends 20-35% of your daily calories come from fat sources. Just remember to choose foods that provide “good” fats (mono and polyunsaturated fats) while avoiding the “bad” fats (saturated and trans fats). A diet rich in low-fat dairy, poultry, fish, lugumes and nuts should do the trick.
Calories are not nutrients, however, proteins, carbs, and sugars all contribute calories to your diet. Calories, put simply, are the stored energy your body draws on to function and come from the foods we eat, including proteins, carbs/sugars and fats.
By eating foods that are dense in these macronutrients, your body is not only getting the calories it needs to function, it’s also ensuring a sustained healthy lifestyle.
Consuming empty-calorie foods, which are high in calories and low in nutrients, the body is often left with excess energy, which is then stored as fat. The body is left still craving the core nutrients it needs to function.
There are a number of ways to calculate how much your daily caloric intake should be, including this tool from the Mayo Clinic, which takes into account your age, sex, and body dimensions to help you get started.
By understanding that your body needs calories provided in the form of foods full of quality proteins, fiber, and good carbs and sugars, you know that you are not only feeding your body, but also actively fueling and building it.
One Detour Bar, like the new Coconut Almond Smart Bar, has 10g of high-quality whey protein, 12% of your daily fiber needs, good-carb organic oats, and only 3g of sugar—making it a solid choice for a well-rounded, post-workout bar, or even a meal on the go. So grab a box today and start fuelling that body!