Last week we looked at the effect of quantity and quality of food on weight management. This week we delve deeper into the macro and micro-nutrient composition of our intake and why balance is important in weight management.
What are macro and micronutrients?
Macro-nutrients are nutrients that are required in large amounts by the body. There are three essential macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
The suggested macronutrient proportions for a healthy eating pattern for the average person are:
- Carbohydrate 45–65% of total daily energy.
- Fat 20–35% of total daily energy.
- Protein 15–25%of total daily energy.
Micronutrients are required in much smaller amounts but are important for growth and development. Micronutrients are made up of vitamins and minerals. Examples of vitamins are vitamin C and vitamin D, while examples of minerals are calcium and iron. Each of the micronutrients have important roles in the body from maintaining bone structure, to carrying oxygen around the body, healing wounds and building healthy skin.
Carbohydrates can be complex molecular structures such as starches and fibre or simple such as sugars. Complex carbohydrates take a little bit longer to digest and break down the food into energy. They make you feel fuller for longer which means you feel satisfied for longer. Simple carbohydrates, on the other hand, are digested rapidly and therefore are not as satisfying.
Carbohydrates have the lowest energy content at 16kJ per gram, followed by protein at 17kJ per gram. Fat has the highest energy content at 37kJ per gram.
If we consume more energy dense foods, then we can only eat a small amount per day before we reach 8700 kj. For example, 1.8 Big Mac meals per day equals 8700 kj, whereas you would need to eat 21 bananas to reach 8700kj.
Hence, if we consume better quality food with a lower energy content, our portions can be bigger and our meals more satisfying. Check out the video for more examples of what you should and shouldn’t eat.
We need to play the long game…
When the goal is weight loss, we often think cutting out unhealthy foods completely will help fast track our weight loss goal. However, for most people, it’s not realistic to completely cut out unhealthy foods such as simple sugars, alcohol or fast food. Allowing these foods occasionally brings balance to your life and creates a diet that is maintainable in the long term.
Written by Courtney Maher