Measuring Your Macros: CARBS | This is What 30 Grams of Carbs Looks Like
I am SO excited to talk about macros in several upcoming blog posts. A lot of people find tracking macros confusing, intimidating, or a waste of time - but depending on your fitness goals, tracking macros can be your NEW BEST FRIEND.
But before we dive in with the first macro group I want to talk about, first thing's first: what even IS a macro?
"Macro" is actually short for "macronutrient." There are two types of nutrients: macronutrients and micronutrients.
MACROnutrients are broken down in to three categories: fat, carbs, and protein. A lot of times people who count macros are following a specific percentage ratio of each of these three groups to achieve a certain fitness goal and hit a certain number of calories each day. Fat, carbs, and protein all provide the body with energy (calories). Depending on what you are wanting to achieve, you may adjust your fat, carb, and protein intake accordingly to put the body in a caloric deficit or a caloric surplus.
MICROnutrients are the vitamins and minerals the body needs to survive and these are only required in small amounts for overall wellness and health. A few examples of a micronutrient are vitamin A, biotin, vitamin B6, folic acid, etc.
For this series, I am going to focus on macronutrients because these are the nutrients that contribute to your daily calorie intake.
Each macro has a different caloric density per gram:
Fat: 9 cal/gram
Carbs: 4 cal/gram
Protein: 4 cal/gram
So, I figured I would start by talking about everyone's favorite: CARBS.
Pasta. Bread. French Fries. Ice Cream. Candy. Vegetables. Fruits. Cereal.
All the good stuff.
Carbs are the body's preferred source of energy. When you eat carbs and sugars, your body turns them in to glucose. The brain and nervous system use glucose as fuel (which is what causes that "sugar high" when you eat way too many simple carbs at once).
Carbs can sometimes get a bad rep in the world of fitness, so it's important to understand the two different TYPES of carbs: complex carbs and simple carbs.
Complex carbs: often high in fiber and digest at a much slower rate than simple carbs, which keeps you full for a longer period of time (think foods like whole grains and green veggies).
Simple carbs: sugars. These are quickly digested and give the body a very quick source of energy (things like white bread, candy, cookies, etc.).
Simple carbs are also found in fruit, but the sugars in fruits are natural as opposed to the added, processed junk you would find in a food like white bread.
The photo above shows approximately 30 grams of carbs measured out into six different foods. I don't know about you guys, but I like to eat A LOT of food. I know I will feel more satisfied and stay full for a longer period of time after eating 5 cups of broccoli or 6 cups of air popped popcorn over half a bagel or a Snickers candy bar.
Each food above may only be approximately 30 grams of carbs, but they have different kinds of carbs and different makeups of fat and protein, which means they all have different calorie counts.
5 cups of raw broccoli:
6 cups of air popped popcorn:
1/2 cup oats:
1/2 cup oats
1 Snickers candy bar:
2 small granny smith apples:
1/2 a cinnamon raisin bagel:
There are all KINDS of macro-tracking apps on the market. My Fitness Pal, Lose It!, etc. all allow you to keep a running log of the food you have eaten at each meal.
When it comes to the six foods covered above, the main two takeaways I want everyone to get from this post are portion sizes and nutritional value. Yes, a candy bar may have the same amount of carbs as 5 cups of raw broccoli, but looking past that number, which one provides the body with the most benefits?
I am so excited to continue this "Measuring Your Macros" series here on the blog and on my Instagram, @samanthabowers_. I think photos like the one above are so effective to put serving sizes into perspective. If you read this post, go leave a comment on my latest Instagram photo and tell me what YOU want to know about macros! What have you always wondered, what are you confused about, and what would you like to see covered in the next post?