Macronutrient Balance

Macronutrient balance is key to healthy weight management and loss. Food essentially contains two kinds of nutrients: macronutrients, which provide energy, and micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, which help the body use the energy.

Carbohydrates, protein, fats and alcohol are the major macronutrients. Water is essential to processing the energy.


We need some fat to absorb certain vitamins and maintain a healthy immune system. Fat also provides the material for hormone production, such as testosterone.

Distinguish between healthful and unhealthful fats.

Saturated fat is found mostly in animal products, such as beef, pork, chicken, milk, ice cream, and cheese. In excess quantities, saturated fat raises your levels of blood cholesterol and clogs your arteries. Keep your saturated fat to less than 10 per cent of your total calories.

Trans fats are artery clogging fats. They are created through hydrogenation, a process that turns liquid oil into solids like margarine and shortening. Hydrogenation makes pie crusts flakier and French fries crispier.

Chips, crackers, cookies, granola bars, pasties, microwave pop corn, many types of bread, many cereals, and many peanut butters often contain trans fats. Look for the words hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated in the ingredients on labels and avoid those products that use hydrogenated oils, especially when near the top of the ingredients list.

Unsaturated fats are good for your health. They are found in foods such as: avocados, canola and flax seed oils, fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel, nuts and seeds, peanuts and “natural” peanut butter (free of hydrogenated fats), olives and olive oil.

Unsaturated fats fall into two categories: mono and poly.

Olive OilOlive and canola oils are predominantly monounsaturated, as are peanut butter and avocado. The evidence is strong that monounsaturated fats may help protect against heart disease by reducing levels of LDL cholesterol (the artery-clogging kind) without affecting HDL cholesterol (the kind that acts as a vacuum cleaner within your bloodstream).

Polyunsaturated fats are found in vegetable oils such as safflower, corn, sunflower and soybean. Use vegetable oils in moderation. They should be kept in dark bottles and stored in the fridge.

You want to eat a balance of both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Keep your total fat intake to 20-25 per cent of your total calories (primarily from olive oil).

Fat has high caloric density. If you go beyond 5 to 25 percent of your total calories, the percentage of your carbohydrates must be reduced.

Carbohydrates and Fibre

Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of fuel and exercisers need plenty of them (50-70 percent of calories should come from them).

The best carbohydrates are the complex carbohydrates. They are found in, whole-wheat pasta, grains, veggies, beans and the like. Complex carbohydrates are low in calories, low in fat and high in fibre. They make you feel full for a good while. Favor natural simple sugars over processed ones.

Simple carbohydrates are found in table sugar and processed foods, but they also occur naturally, like in fruit. They are absorbed quickly, causing the amount of sugar in your blood to skyrocket and then plunge soon after, leaving you tired and hungry. Avoid (simple) processed carbohydrates.

Whole Grain BreadTo get the most fibre eat whole grain flour-based products and the skin of vegetables and fruits. Fibre keeps your colon healthy, your bowel movement regular, plays a role in reducing cholesterol, and keeps you feeling full longer throughout the day. If you don’t eat a lot of fibre in your diet, try using a fibre supplement such as Metamucil.

Get Enough Protein, but don’t Fall for High-protein Propaganda

Protein is crucial because it’s made up of amino acids, which your body uses to build and repair your muscles, red blood cells, enzymes, and other tissues. Our protein intake should be 10-20 percent of total calories.

A recreational exerciser should aim for 0.5 to 0.75 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Too little of it can lead to protein malnutrition; too much can cause high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, stroke, dementia, kidney stones and arterial aging. “You are as old as your arteries”.

Getting protein from vegetable sources is important. If you find that you are eating too much protein, cut back by using high-protein foods as a side dish rather than your main dish (sprinkle meat on your salad with strips of grilled chicken rather than planning your entire meal around a slab of steak).

If you think that you are not getting enough protein, because you fear the fat, focus on the plant sources such as dried peas and beans, lentils, soy beans and black beans. Also, turn to dairy foods like fat-free cottage cheese and fat-free plain yogurt.

There is a fine balance that needs to be struck between the intake of proteins and carbohydrates. Although proteins should not be the mainstay of the diet, they do need to be present at each and every meal and snack for health and weight-loss purposes. Protein is harder to metabolize and therefore burns more calories. Protein creates a fuller feeling and causes you to eat less.

Men should strive for 5 to 7 ounces of protein per meal while women should strive for 4 to 6 ounces per meal. The palm of your hand (without fingers or a thumb) or a deck of cards is equivalent of 3 ounces of protein.

Ideal protein options include:

4 ounces of chicken
4 ounces of salmon
6 ounces of tuna
4 ounces of lean beef
1 large egg
1 cup of milk
1 ounce of cheese
½ cup of cottage cheese
1 cup of yogurt
½ cup of tofu
1 cup of soy milk
½ cup of lentils cooked
1 scoop of protein powder