Macros and Weight Loss
A lot of modern diets focus very heavily on cutting out one or more macronutrients almost entirely. And even though this can be great for short term weight loss, a zero-anything diet is not a sustainable option for any of us.
There is a reason they are called macroNUTRIENTS after all. They are deeply nourishing, essential to building our bodies up, and all round too important to miss out on.
When we go not get enough protein our muscles will grow weaker as our body digests them, trying to get all the protein it needs for different metabolic processes. And when our muscle mass is reduced, our ability to burn calories is also reduced. Muscles burn more calories than fat when resting. But muscles are also more active than fat. If you have a bigger bicep, for example, you will burn more calories bending your elbow than someone with a smaller bicep.
Making sure you get enough protein means that your muscles will stay strong, and hopefully grow stronger, increasing the calories you burn every day. It is also important to remember that needs for protein are very variable.
Although the RDA sits around forty grams a day in most countries, in reality this depends on how much you absorb. Some people barely absorb two percent of the proteins they eat, meaning they need much more, and some people absorb virtually all of it, meaning they only need around forty grams. And if you are eating a vegan or vegetarian diet, you may find you need to eat more protein, as the proteins in plants are less easily absorbed and used by the human body.
When we do not get enough fats we can suffer greatly. Too little fat in general can cause a condition known as rabbit starvation, where you are not able to complete basic bodily functions or process protein properly. And, just like when you eat too much protein in general, too little fat can put strain on your kidneys and cause them to malfunction or fail. Furthermore, there are a number of fats known as Essential Fatty Acids which we need to consume almost every day so as to keep our levels high enough.
When we eat enough cholesterol and omega oils, our hormones tend to stabilize. This means that our hunger hormones are controlled, our satiety hormones are higher, and we are therefore more likely to feel full after our meals. Our feel good hormones are higher too, which means that we are more likely to feel happy and stable, and less likely to eat out of boredom, anxiety, or depression.
It is a common assertion that you do not need carbs to live, and although technically true, this ignores one important fact: Surviving is not thriving. And you need carbs to thrive. Not because of glucose, like some people assume.
Unless you are an endurance athlete, you don't need glucose and can survive off ketones. But even though we are fine on ketones for fuel, our bodies still do better when we eat plenty of two other carbs: resistant starches and fiber. These carbs do not feed us directly, but feed the good bacteria in our guts. But by feeding our good bacteria, we improve our all-round health and promote weight loss.
Good bacteria, for starters, crowds out bad bacteria and yeasts. Which means we will suffer fewer cravings, as some cravings are caused directly by bacterial imbalances. Good bacteria also produce a number of essential nutrients in our guts, which will make us more likely to feel full after meals and less likely to feel like snacking in between meals.
All in all, we need a basic amount of every macronutrient in order to thrive. This doesn't mean you cannot restrict them at all. After all, you need to restrict calories to lose weight, and your restricted calories will have to come from one, two, or all three of the macronutrients.
But what this does mean is that you can't eliminate any macronutrient, or you will get severely ill. And even a highly restrictive diet can cause problems in the long term. Instead, try reducing your calories across the board and remembering to eat a minimum of forty grams of carbs, forty grams of protein, and twenty grams of fat every day, to maintain good health.