We are all looking for balanced diets and meals throughout the day. So how does one get the right combination of Proteins, Carbohydrates, Fat, Fiber, Minerals and Hydration? If there was one answer, we would all know it. The answer is: It depends. The following factors play a role in determining your ratios:
- Age and gender: Younger people need different ratios that changes as we age. Men tend to usually have slightly higher calorie needs physically than women.
- Fitness Goals: Are you trying to cut fat or build muscles will impact your intake.
- Levels of Physical Activity: What you do every day as part of your fitness routine impacts your intake.
- Body Types: Certain people have higher metabolism and burn carbohydrates faster which impacts what they eat.
Of course, existing medical conditions over-ride all of the above. So, with these factors in mind let us go through the three main macro-nutrients.
Protein is essential for maintaining and building muscle mass. While the amount of protein varies if you are a professional body builder versus an active normal person, we all need sufficient protein.
Range: The ideal range of protein is 0.7-1.0 grams of protein per pound of body mass. So for a 65 KG or 145 LBs active lady, that would be 100 grams of protein every day.
Source: Try to take at least two-thirds of the needs via natural sources like eggs, meat (if you are not vegan), beans, grains, tofu, cheese, Greek yoghurt etc and supplement the rest via protein powders. When supplementing, watch out for what else is coming in via the supplement like extra carbs, sugars and vitamins so that you can account for those in totality.
Try to spread your intake through the day. Protein makes me feel satiated and I tend to eat less junk when I have enough protein going in. If you are trying to build muscles, move the ratio closer to 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight.
Carbohydrates are essential for energy. They are the fastest form of energy when we need it. When used in high demand situations, they are efficient and very useful. When we have too many carbohydrates in our body with no use for them, they are wasted and can cause harm over longer term. Therefore, vary your carbohydrate intake depending on your energy needs and focus on complex carbs (slower digesting). I try to aggregate more than half my carbs around my workout training window. And I make sure I have zero to low carbs in at least one of my daily meals. If I have had a carbs dominant meal, and it is more than I need, I try to burn it off by a 20 minutes of longer jog or walk. There is no perfect number for carbs because it really depends on how active you are and what the intensity of your workouts is. Watch your carbs. Get the complex ones (not refined) and use them well.
Lets clear out a misconception – fats don’t make you fat, extra calories from any source make you fat. So after factoring your proteins and carbs, whatever is left should be fulfilled by healthy fats (e.g olive oil, avocado, nuts etc). Fats are a superb source of energy. More sustained and not as immediate delivery as carbs. And you don’t need to be on a ketogenic diet to eat quality fats for energy! But yes too much of fats and too much of carbs is not going to get your weighing scale down!
Here is an illustrative example. I am 65 kgs and today is my weights workout day. I am trying to maintain 1900 calories for the day. My first priority would be getting my 125 grams of protein (roughly .9 gm per pound). Total calories from Protein: 125 x 4 (energy per gm protein) = 500 calories from protein. I will try to eat a bulk of my carbs around my workout time in the morning, so a carb heavy breakfast with 100 grams of carbs (that’s about two toasts) with 75 grams carb for rest of the day. So that is 175 x 4 = 700 calories from carbs. That leaves me with 700 calories from fats, or about 75 grams of Fats.
If the calculation above seems very tedious, just try to eat balanced meals and snacks with 30% proteins, 35% Fats and 35% carbs. When you eat in balance there is very less you need to correct for.
Shagun, Yoga Superfuel
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