Timehop kindly reminded me that it’s been three years since I started IIFYM! IIFYM has gained a lot of popularity recently and for good reason. If you’d like to learn more about IIFYM check out this article. If you’ve already heard of IIFYM but are still unsure of what the value in macronutrients are this article is for you. All a macronutrient is is a nutrient that the body needs in large amounts. In IIFYM we track fat, carbs, and protein to ensure we’re getting the right amount of nutrients as well as aligning our diet with our fitness goals. Each macronutrient plays an important role not only in our body composition but also our internal health. Let’s talk about how…
Fat is the first macronutrient we will cover. Fat yields 9 calories per gram, as opposed to carbs and protein at 4 calories per gram. This is why foods high in fat are typically high in calories. Unfortunately fat is looked upon as the “bad” macronutrient but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Fat is essential for healthy skin and hair and dietary fats provide our body with essential fatty acids that it can’t produce on its own. Fat plays a vital role in regulating hormones for women. Too much fat in your diet can lead to too much estrogen, and vice versa.
Another important function of fat in our diet is to help us feel satiated, or satisfied, because fats increase the time needed to empty food from our stomach. Not all fats are created equal. Trans and saturated fats can damage the cardiovascular system by clogging arteries. Unsaturated fats are more heart-healthy and are generally found in vegetables. Monounsaturated fats, which are known as the healthiest fat, can be found in olive, canola, and peanut oils. Fat is the secondary fuel source for our body after carbohydrates. When we have depleted our muscles carbohydrates, fat based energy becomes available.
In terms of the right amount of fat for you, it varies based on your age, weight, height, etc. A good rule of thumb is that fat should not be more than 30% of your total calories. This usually puts fat at .3-.4g per lb of bodyweight. If you’re interested in learning what your custom macronutrients are contact me or check out my shop.
We all need carbs. Carbohydrates are the best source of energy for our body and we certainly all need energy! Carbs yield 4 calories per gram as opposed to 9 calories per gram for fat. Simply put, carbohydrates include sugars, starches, and fibers.
For a more complex explanation, carbohydrates are categorized into monosaccharides (glucose and fructose which can be found in honey and fruit), disaccharides (Sucrose, table sugar, and lactose, sugar found in milk), and polysaccharides (complex carbs like whole grains, vegetables, nuts, and some fruits). Our bodies can only absorb monosaccharised carbohydrates, which is circulated into the bloodstream through the liver as blood glucose. Our body puts this glucose to work in three ways: it can be burned immediately for energy, converted into glycogen in the liver or muscles to store energy for later, or if the body has an excess or glucose and all glycogen storage is full the surplus of glucose is converted to fat.
Carbohydrates will typically make up 50-80% of your total calories, depending on whether you are trying to cut weight, maintain, or bulk. Unfortunately the fad of low carb diets has left many people lacking important micronutrients as fruits and vegetables are a carbohydrate based food that we obtain most of our necessary vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants from.
Protein is the final macronutrient. Protein has 4 calories per gram, the same as carbohydrates. Your body is literally built from protein. Protein is necessary in building your bones, skin, cartilage, etc. but the main function of protein is to build and repair muscle. Protein’s value is derived from its amino acids, which are the building blocks to muscle tissue. This is why protein is necessary for muscle growth and recovery.
There are two vital components to building muscle: exercise and the right amount of protein. Without the right amount of protein you won’t have the needed amino acids to grow new muscle. Think of it this way, you’ve completed your workout and your body is working to repair itself (it constantly is!). Your body needs to repair its muscles so it looks for amino acids from protein to do so, if the amino acids aren’t available (not enough protein in your diet) your body will use amino acids from elsewhere in the body, sacrificing muscle you already have. Your body needs to stay in a positive nitrogen balance to not lose muscle.
The amount of protein you should consume depends on your bodyweight and fitness goals. The general rule for serious lifters is to consume at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. For those looking to simply maintain muscle .8 grams per pound is sufficient.
Although technically not a macronutrient, fiber is an important part of our diets. Fiber is apart of the carbohydrate macro and a compound only plants contain. Fiber does not provide you with energy but does promote efficient intestinal function as well as regulating the absorption of sugars in the bloodstream. There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber is slow to digest and will help you feel satisfied for longer. Fiber supplements do not provide the same benefits as dietary fiber provides other minerals and necessary nutrients.
An ideal fiber range is 25-40g per day. If you are not eating a fiberful diet slowly introduce more fiber as to not upset the intestinal tract.
Feel free to contact me with any questions!