Happy Easter Everyone! I hope everyone around the world had a great weekend. Today’s blog is one of my favourite topics. Calories versus Macronutrients and why I focus more on macronutrients versus the traditional calorie counting in meals.


In the realm of nutrition and weight management, the conventional wisdom has long revolved around a simple equation: calories in versus calories out. This approach, commonly known as calorie counting, has been the cornerstone of countless diet plans and weight loss strategies for decades. The premise is straightforward: consume fewer calories than you expend, and you’ll shed pounds. Sounds simple, right?  While calorie counting can indeed be a useful tool for tracking food intake and managing weight initially, its singular focus on energy balance often overlooks a crucial aspect of nutrition: the quality of the calories consumed and the metabolic effect on the body. In our calorie-centric culture, the number on the nutrition label reigns supreme, overshadowing the broader context of dietary composition and nutrient density.


But to understand this concept fully, one has to understand what role macronutrients  play in health and how does one manipulate the power of these macronutrients to their advantage. Firstly, let’s hone down what macronutrients  are and how they play a role in energy metabolism. The three main macronutrients present in our food are carbohydrates, proteins and fats.


Carbohydrates – are our bodies primary source of energy, providing fuel for both physical activity and vital physiological processes. Carbohydrates, when consumed are broken down into glucose, which is then used to power the cells throughout the body, particularly in the brain and muscles. Beyond energy, fibre which is found in carbohydrates promotes satiety, regulates bowel movements and provides pre and probiotics fibres for our gut microbiome. These carbohydrates then convert into short chain fatty acids in the gut, providing fuel for our gut cells. Almost all of our gut cells are fuelled by an acid called Butyrate which comes from dietary fibre. Whole, unprocessed sources of carbohydrates provides nutrients, antioxidants and polyphenols to our body that promote overall health and well-being.


The consumption of carbohydrates has a direct impact on energy levels, as they are quickly converted into glucose and provides a rapid source of fuel for the body. This is where types of carbohydrates can influence duration and stability of energy levels. Complex carbohydrates, found in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes are digested more slowly providing sustained energy and feelings of satiety.


Proteins – are the building blocks of life and probably the favourite of all athletes out there. This macronutrient is essential for growth, repair, building muscle, bones, skin, hair, and organs. Each protein molecule is comprised of amino acids, some of which are essential and some which the body can generate internally. These essential amino acids, need to come from our diet and are vital to survival. Proteins render satiety and promote the secretion of hormones from out GI tract. Apart from its role in muscle synthesis, proteins are also part of enzymes, hormones, and facilitate chemical reactions, that regulate metabolism and part of the immune system response. Proteins are also a key component of DNA  synthesis.


Proteins have a unique role in supporting metabolic rate as proteins require more energy to be metabolised, leading to a slight increase in metabolic rate. Digestion has to work harder and thus, the body requires more energy in this process.


Fats – this is my personal favourite despite being a long-standing villain of the macronutrient family. Fats are essential for nerve impulses, brain health, hormones and a vital component of cell membranes. Certain fats, such as the Omega-3 fats found in oily fish are considered essential because the body cannot synthesise them independently and must obtain them from dietary sources. These particular fats are critical for brain health, cell membrane integrity, cardiovascular health, and immune regulation. These fats are found in fatty fish, flax seed, chia, walnuts and good quality extra virgin olive oil. While it’s true that excessive consumption of certain fats i.e. trans fat are not even recognisable to the body and the body doesn’t even have the enzymes to digest them, it’s vital to distinguish “good” from “unhealthy” sources of fats in the diet.


Fats are digested slowly, providing a steady source of fuel and helping to regulate blood sugar levels: which in itself is anti-inflammatory to the body. In the case of a low-carb/ketogenic diet, we want to switch our metabolism from only burning carbohydrates to burning fat as its main source of fuel. Fat then converts into Acetone, acetate and beta-hydroxybutyrate which are known as ketones, a far superior fuel than glucose. Ketones have the ability to fuel the brain, heart and the muscles in a far superior way producing less toxic by-products.


So, when comparing calories to macronutrients in a meal, think about the 3 important factors. What in this meal will promote satiety, help my energy levels, and improve my metabolic health?


Incorporating Balanced Macronutrients:


1. Plan Balanced Meals: When preparing meals, aim to include a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. This could look like a serving of non- starchy vegetables, with a side of protein and healthy fats like avocado, nuts, seeds, and/or olive oil.


2. Use the “Eat-Well” Plate method: Divide your plate into sections to ensure a balanced intake of macronutrients. Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, one-quarter with lean protein, and one-quarter with healthy fats.


3. Snack Smart: Choose snacks that contain a mix of macronutrients to keep you satisfied between meals. Examples include boiled eggs topped with avocado, apple slices with almond butter, Greek or coconut yogurt with berries, or veggies/crudités with a hummus dip or any dip which will help keep you full.


Keep experimenting with ratios, and macronutrients until you are able to target your Goldilocks zone. Whether it’s muscle you’re after or just longevity, all macronutrients will play a vital role in energy and hormone health!