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What Are Macros - Part 1 - Protein



Macronutrients are the nutrients that our body needs in large quantities to function well. There are three macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Each is necessary for cellular building, repair, and proper detoxification. It’s important to consume each of these daily, and good quality macronutrients are important because your cells are literally made up of what you eat. In part one of this series we are going to focus on the role and importance of protein in our body.


Protein


Protein is digested and broken down into amino acids. There are many amino acids that our body can use, but there are nine that are essential and must be consumed in order to have optimal health. Amino acids build and repair tissue and muscles, and also provide structure to our cell’s membranes, organs, hair, skin, and nails. Amino acids are also used to create enzymes and hormones. Enzymes are necessary for digestion, liver function, and chemical reactions within our body. Hormones are the chemical messengers that regulate many processes in the body, from blood sugar regulation to thyroid function. Without taking in an appropriate level and quality of protein, your body can’t effectively produce these essentials.

So, how much protein do I need in a day? This will look a little different for each individual, depending on goals, activity level, weight, etc. In general, I recommend 30% of daily calories to come from protein. Now, this doesn’t mean that you need to track every ounce of protein you are getting. You can, however, download an app like Carbmanager and track your food for a couple of days just to get a good idea of what 30% looks like. I’ve found with a lot of my clients that most people are not getting enough protein. If you don’t want to track, try to include protein in every meal and snack to ensure that you are getting enough of this important macronutrient.


Sources of Protein Include:


Chicken

Turkey

Eggs

Red Meat (beef, bison, venison)

Pork

Seafood (fish and shellfish)

Dairy

Nuts and Seeds

Beans


I always recommend buying the highest quality protein that you can find. Look for wild caught fish and pastured beef and pork, as well as organic dairy, and nuts and seeds as your budget allows. While these foods might cost a little more, they provide your body with proteins that are free of GMOs, artificial hormones, and cell-damaging chemicals.


I mentioned earlier in this post that there are nine essential amino acids. There are many foods that have protein in them, but unless they are complete protein sources (protein sources that contain all nine essential amino acids), you may not be getting all of the protein that you need to function optimally. Animal proteins contain all nine essential amino acids, but if you are trying to get enough protein as a vegetarian, it will be important to make sure that you are combining your protein sources properly to make sure you are getting the protein your body needs.


Stay tuned for Part 2 of our series on the Importance of Carbohydrates!


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