Whenever I start working with a nutrition client, I walk them through “the big picture”. The big picture is what we have to keep in perspective with nutrition, and is always something we look back on to guide us when things get fuzzy and we lose sight of where we’re at, where we’re going, etc. The big picture goes like this:

Humans evolved on a varied and seasonal diet, and with no processed foods. The human species didn’t evolve to where they are now across millions of years because of diet coke. They started out as microorganisms in the ocean, which eventually evolved into walking, breathing, intelligent and physically capable creatures. They did this from having an abundance of nutrients available to survive the harsh and deadly climates and environments around them as history went on. 

Now that we have that in our heads, let’s get into it. A macronutrient is a nutrient that we can use to create energy for ourselves. There are three major macronutrients that we care about.  They are Protein (PRO), Carbohydrates (CHO), and Fat (FAT). All three are equally important in providing health, and we need a relative balance of all three.

Here’s how this works – our body needs an abundance of nutrients in order to grow and meet energy needs. We don’t need to necessarily worry about how much we’re taking in just yet, we just want to practice balance. So, if we don’t take in enough PRO, we can’t repair our muscles and structures from day to day wear and tear, as well as keep up with our body’s balance (homeostasis). If we don’t take in enough CHO, we won’t have enough energy to go about most of our daily tasks, and without FAT we won’t have a “fullness factor” from meals and will feel the need to eat more often than we need to, and we won’t have enough stored energy to use in our “long and slow” effort tasks.

What counts as a PRO/CHO/FAT food? We want to look at foods that are macronutrient dominant foods. For instance, beef is a PRO, strawberries or sweet potato are CHO, and walnuts or olive oil are FAT. Check out this handy GiffyFit Nutrition chart for a break down of each macronutrient!

How to practice balance? Start here:

  • Have at least one PRO source, one CHO source, and one FAT source in every meal that we eat. 
  • Once you get that down, the next level would be to make every instance that you eat a meal. This means that instead of snacking on just chips (CHO) or fruit (CHO), try to make every meal a full meal! What is a meal? A meal is when you eat. So, when you eat, make it a PRO/CHO/FAT meal! This will help give you balance between macronutrients without having to measure everything that you take in.

In the next entry in this series, we’ll be going over Protein, and how to leverage it towards better health!

Nick Gifford (CF-L3)
Nick Gifford (CF-L3)Author
Nick Gifford, Head Coach and Owner of Gifford Fitness, CrossFit Red Lion and Gifford Barbell has coached over 3000 athletes since 2012. He has worked with athletes from all walks and stages of life, focusing on health and wellness, balance, and pursuing excellence.