Lesson 3: Intro to Macros

This lesson is going to dive into the foundation of any meal, which is the macronutrients. So, what exactly are macronutrients?

  • Macronutrients, macros for short, are the nutrients we need in large quantities.
  • This includes protein, carbs, and fats.
    • Each meal you eat should incorporate a balanced portion of each.
    • Snacks can be whatever you choose based on what you need.

An adequate macronutrient intake leads to a strong metabolism, energy production, lean mass and bone mass maintenance, immunity, and overall good health.

For meals, we use the integrative nutrition plate:

  1. This is an altered suggestion based on the US food guidelines
  2. This plate emphasizes the value of Primary Food first, and in this case:
    • Relationships: Who are you connecting with and surrounded by?
    • Spirituality: What is your perception of something greater than what you can see?
    • Physical Activity: How active are you being in daily life?
    • Career: What do you perceive as your sense of purpose? The purpose and/or meaning you’ve chosen to add to this world.

Primary Food is on the outside plate because we must first nourish the other aspects of our lives in order to physically nourish our bodies through food. When it comes down to it the actual science of nutrition, it is quite straight forward, but how fulfilled we feel in the circle of life affects our relationship with food and ability to apply this nutrition information properly.

The next plate, the inner plate, includes our macros which are broken up into suggested portion sizes of protein, grains, vegetables, and fruit. This version also includes fats and oils, as well as water, instead of dairy.

  • This entire plate is set up to stabilize blood sugar; this will leave you fuller and satisfied longer!
  • Every macro has a purpose for your body; by understanding the necessity of each and creating a balanced plate, you will be able to optimally function and avoid food imbalance.
  • Food imbalance can lead to cravings which can cause over or undereating of specific foods or it can simply mean lacking in a nutrient that we need to recover or perform.

Let's develop your understanding of each macronutrient and how it interacts with your body!


  • What is it?
    • Protein is made up of building blocks called amino acids.
    • Types of protein include, seafood, meat, red lentils, chickpeas. 
    • Unlike carbs and fats, our body can't store amino acids, so our body must either make them or consume them through food.
      • Essential amino acids are the ones that our body cannot synthesize, so we must acquire from food.
  • Why it’s necessary?
    • Protein keeps us sustained. It helps keep you full longer, and it also helps build and maintain muscle.
    • When we eat protein, our body breaks it down into amino acids to use in building and repairing muscle.
    • A higher protein intake is correlated with muscle mass retention allowing you to be stronger in training.
  • Lacking?
    • Without proper protein intake, the body will actually pull amino acids out of our muscles to use for energy.
    • If we’re lacking in protein, our body will look for other ways to sustain itself. This typically leads to cravings for sweets and caffeine.


  • What are they?
    • Most people think of carbs as bread, potatoes, pasta, cookies, and rice, but fruits, vegetables, and dairy are also a form of carbohydrate.
    • There are two types of carbs:
      1. Simple Carbohydrates
        • Our bodies process simple carbs very fast, which provide us with quick bursts of energy.
        • This is something that’s very useful to eat before you train, lift, or compete.
        • Examples of simple carbs include white bread, banana, and sugar.
      2. Complex carbohydrates
        • Due to a larger structure, our bodies take more time to process these.
        • Starches and fiber are included here.
          • Fiber supports gut health and helps us manage our weight and reduce cholesterol. It slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream and helps us avoid spikes, which allows us to maintain more consistent blood glucose levels.
        • In athletics, these are helpful to consume the night before or one to two hours prior to training.
        • Examples of complex carbs are brown rice, potatoes, pasta, quinoa, oats, whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and beans.
    • Carbs are the body's immediate energy source!
  • Why it’s necessary?
    • There is a lot of controversy on the impact carbs have on your body and the importance it has in your diet. However, as athletes there is no denying the value carbs have to your body.
    • Carb availability not only impacts protein synthesis, it's also your body’s prime source of energy when training or competing.


  • What are they?
    • Fats make up our cell walls! Do you want those cell walls to be made of potato chips or avocados?
    • Types of fats:
      • Unsaturated fats: liquid at room temperature
        • Monounsaturated Fatty Acids
        • Examples: Vegetable Oil, Nuts, Avocado, Seeds
      • Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: "essential" fatty acids because they can't be made in the body
        • Omega-3 and omega-6; these are essential because our bodies don’t naturally synthesize them
          • Omega-3s help reduce inflammation, support heart health
        • Omega-3 Examples: Salmon, Tuna, Mackerel, Walnuts, Flaxseeds, Chia Seeds, Canola Oil
        • Omega-6 Examples: Safflower Oil, Seeds, Soy, Nuts, Corn Oil
      • Saturated: solid at room temperature
        • Examples: Fatty Meat, Lard, Dairy, Tropical Oil (palm, cocoa, coconut)
        • Coconut Oil is a plant-based source of saturated fat, but it’s also a great source of lauric acid and has beneficial antibacterial, antifungal, and even cholesterol-lowering properties.
      • Trans (hydrogenated [extends shelf life])
        • Associated with heart disease and atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries), it’s very inflammatory
        • Examples: Processed Baked Goods, Fried Foods, Margarine
  • Why it’s necessary?
    • Gives your body energy and support cell growth.
    • We need fat to absorb certain vitamins (A, D, E, & K).
    • Increases satiety, which is the feeling of being full, because it takes longer to digest.
  • Lacking?
    • Unhealthy fats change the structure of our membranes, making them stiff and less fluid and causing them to nick and damage the body. Healthy fats make it smooth and transport nutrients throughout the body with ease.
    • Low fat diets may lead to cravings for full fat things such as ice cream. Food cravings always have a root cause.