Macronutrients

Understanding macronutrients

Nearly all ingredients of virtually everything we eat are made up of carbohydrates, fats and/or proteins. These three substances are known as macronutrients – de­rived from the Greek word 'macro', meaning large.

Most natural whole foods are made up of just two of these macronutrients.

If the food (or drink) is derived from something that once had a face, it is made up of protein and fat - the exception being a small amount of carbohydrate in eggs and milk. If the food came out of the ground, it generally consists of protein and carbohydrates.

Note how EVERYTHING has protein! This is because protein is the building block of life.

A few exceptions to the two-macronutrient rule are nuts, seeds, milk and avo­cados, which feature all three macronutrients. There are also a few foods made of just one macronutrient: table sugar (although it’s less a food, more poison) is made up of just carbohydrate, and oils such as coconut and olive are made from just fat.

WHAT DO MACRONUTRIENTS DO?

In all humans and animals, all three macronutrients can carry out energy-related roles:

CARBOHYDRATES – are converted to sugar for energy

FATS – are converted to fatty acids, in the main to repair cells or to use as energy

PROTEINS – are converted to amino acids, to repair and rebuild cells or to use as energy

CARBOHYDRATES

From this point on, we are going to refer to carbohydrates as CARBS – also a handy acronym for Carbohydrates Are Really Bad Sugars.

All CARBS, whether they are simple or complex, unrefined or refined, eventually become sugar in the body. Without debating that some are worse than others, we need to understand that all CARBS – even those that are complex and unrefined – will at some point become sugar once digested.

FACT: CARBOHYDRATES ARE JUST SUGAR IN DISGUISE

Potatoes, pasta, bread and rice are all converted to sugar in the body. To our body, sugar is either used as an immediate source of energy or it is poison! They might be dressed up in fancy packaging and often carry labels with misleading health benefits, but we need to realise our body was never designed to consume them.

There is one exception to the rule though. Our Primal ancestors were designed to eat fruit in the autumn as a means to store body fat for the winter (the fridge hadn’t yet been invented). But at this point I believe you are reading this because you want to lose weight, not pile it on for the winter months! This is why during the Seriously Primal – 7-Day Weight Loss Programme, I am actually going to ask you to avoid most fruit, other than the ‘fab four berries’. These are blackberries, blue­berries, raspberries and strawberries, which contain less sugar and are packed with vitamins and antioxidants. Don’t worry, once you are fully Primal, there are plenty of other fruits you can start to reintroduce, as long as they are organic, and consumed in moderation.

Let’s not beat about the bush. CARBS fulfil no purpose other than to provide energy or to store energy in the form of body fat. They don’t help the body repair or rebuild cells and they possess zero nutritional value. Yes, ZERO! They don’t contain any vitamins or minerals and they have zero benefits associated with them. In fact, quite the opposite, as all CARBS once in the body turn to sugar and too much sugar in the bloodstream KILLS!

So yes, CARBS and sugar are a poison. You can’t separate CARBS from sugar, they are one and the same thing once digested.

SUGAR

Let’s look at the three sugar groups. All the sugar groups are a type of 'saccha­ride' – the Latin word for 'sugar'.

Monosaccharide (pronounced moh-no-sack-a-ride): a single molecule. These simple sugars include glucose – found in fruits and grains – and fructose (found in fruit).

Disaccharide (die-sack-a-ride): a double molecule. These include sucrose, such as table sugar, and lactose which is found in milk.

Polysaccharides (polly-sack-a-ride): including glycogen, which is how humans and animals store energy in the liver and muscles. Also starch, which is how plants store energy. The indigestible form of polysaccharides is fibre, which can­not be broken down in the body. There are two forms of fibre: insoluble and soluble. Although a carbohydrate, fibre is non-digestible and is the one exception to the rule as fibre does not have a negative effect on the body. In fact, sufficient consumption is crucial to our health and wellbeing.

It infuriates me that governments and much of the medical profession still rec­ommend a balanced diet to people that are overweight, obese or type 2 diabetic. This is utter rubbish!

As I’ve already stated, CARBS serve no purpose other than as an energy source. If we are fat and overweight, we have plenty of stored energy in our body. We simply need to know how to unlock it and consume it.

The body can survive, indeed thrive, without CARBS. If it couldn’t, how did the human race survive through the ice age, when little or no CARBS were availa­ble? Or how can my friends the Maasai survive when living off nothing but live­stock? The Maasai consume virtually no CARBS, except for a little dairy and the occasional orange berry. But I can tell you from personal experience, these berries contain very little sugar and are very bitter indeed. Likewise, the Inuit of Greenland and Canada live off the land and sea, consuming whales, seals and arctic foxes. Furthermore, I’ve met people in the remotest parts of Siberia who eat barely anything other than reindeer. Their CARB free diets not only keep them slender, but athletic and strong too.

One more time: CARBS do nothing for the body other than to provide it with en­ergy. And excess energy is stored as fat.

PROTEIN

Protein comes from the Greek word 'prota', meaning ‘of primary importance’. All proteins get converted into amino acids inside the body.

Amino acids: There are 22 different types of amino acids, all created from the elements carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen or sulphur.

Our body can make all but nine of these amino acids, and these nine are ex­tremely important for our health. That’s why they’re called the ‘essential proteins’, and we must make sure they form part of our diet. Without consuming these, the ability of our body to repair itself and rebuild cells and organs will be compro­mised.

Did you know that every five or six years, you and I become an almost entirely new person?! Our skin is constantly being regenerated and our entire outer layer is replaced every single month. Our complete skeleton is regenerated every 10 years or so. Our lungs are replaced every six weeks, our liver in less than six months and our tongue’s 9,000 taste buds are rejuvenated every 10 days.

Our body, cell-by-cell, day-by-day, is in a state of continual repair, rebuild or re­placement; or at least it should be.

These acts of replacement, regeneration and rejuvenation are fuelled by one thing and one thing only: what we eat and drink. Hence the saying ‘we are what we eat’. If we eat junk food, our new body parts will be created by junk and will not match up to the cells they are replacing, and that’s what causes ageing. Rubbish input equals rubbish output. Or ‘garbage in, garbage out’ (GIGO) as computer scientists say. However, eat the right proteins and fats, and we are going to make some pretty good body parts, lose weight and delay the ageing process all at the same time.

According to a report in 2007 from the World Health Organisation, the top food sources for quality proteins are eggs, poultry, meat and fish.

FATS

FACT: FAT DOES NOT MAKE US FAT!

Fat has been demonised for far too long. It is not the villain. The villain who broke in and messed up your slender body was Mr CARBS.

Whilst what follows below is slightly geeky, it really helps if you can take a little time to understand it.

There are two types of fat inside our body. Fats that are ready to be burned as energy are known as fatty acids, and fats that are stored as body fat are known as triglycerides. They are known as triglycerides because they are simply three (tri) fatty acids bonded together by glycerol (pronounced gliss-er-roll).

Fat can only enter or leave cells when broken down to the smaller fatty acids. Body fat (accumulated by too many CARBS) – the fat we are battling to lose – can only be stored as triglycerides and these can only form in the presence of sugar (glycerol – the glue - can’t form without sugar).

Just like there are those nine essential amino acids that we need to consume in order to survive (as the body does not create them) it is also essential that we consume both saturated and unsaturated fats/oils.

Fats, also known as lipids, are ALL insoluble. Fats and oils are exactly the same thing, but those referred to as fats are normally solid at room temperature, where­as oil tends not to be.

Saturated fats: which in the main are solid at room temperature, have their bonds filled with hydrogen (i.e. they are literally saturated).

Despite all that you have read and heard, saturated fats cannot be bad for us because breast milk – without which many of us wouldn’t be here right now – is rich in saturated fats. So too is my beloved coconut oil! For those who haven’t read my book Primal Cure, I worship coconuts for their myriad of health benefits. So, regardless of what the press write, believe me when I say saturated fats can’t all be bad for us.

Unsaturated fats: include the hugely beneficial Omega 3 and olive oil. They’re not unhealthy either. These can be further broken down into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated:

Monounsaturated fats/oils (usually liquid at room temperature) have one double bond of hydrogen missing. As long as they are natural, these aren’t unhealthy either. They can’t be, as all health-conscious individuals will be aware of the many benefits of both avocados and nuts.

Polyunsaturated fats/oils (usually liquid at room temperature) have two missing bonds (I know ‘poly’ normally means many, but when it comes to fat, it means just two). The hugely beneficial omega 3 is indeed a polyunsaturated fat/oil.

In principle, all fats are incredibly healthy, as long as they are real fats and not manufactured fake fats, which can be very toxic and dangerous. The health con­cern should not be whether a fat is saturated or not, but whether it is real or manufactured. Seriously, you don’t need to concern yourself with which type of fat you are consuming, as long as you ensure it is real!

Don’t be fooled by the word. Vegetable oils are not made of vegetables at all, but from genetically modified corn and soy (about as un-Primal as you can get). In his book Toxic Oil (which on the cover states, ‘Why vegetable oil will kill you & how to save yourself’), David Gillespie writes, “Vegetable oil makes you exceedingly vulnerable to cancer. Every mouthful of vegetable oil you consume takes you one step closer to a deadly (and irreversible) outcome. Every mouthful of vegetable oil you feed to your children is doing the same to them”.

Fats overview

SUMMARY OF HEALTHY FATS

Most fats – whether from meat, coconut or olive oils – are a mixture of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils. In fact, all regular foods we consume that include fats include all three. Nature did this on purpose, because we need all three of the following types of fat.

1. Saturated (solid at room temp) = coconut, meat, chicken, dairy

2. Unsaturated (liquid at room temp), monounsaturated type – Avocado, most nuts, olives

3. Unsaturated (liquid at room temp), polyunsaturated type - Omega 3, Omega 6

TRANS FATS – Be extremely cautious of trans fats. While natural trans fats are pro­duced in the guts of some animals, such as beef, lamb and some dairy products, the vast majority of trans fats are artificial fats, hydrogenated to make them last longer. If the ingredient list says hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated, then it’s NOT a healthy fat and should be avoided! Artificial trans fats or hydrogenated oils are toxic, ugly and deadly.

We’ve learnt about essential protein (amino acids), and we’ve learnt about es­sential fats (fatty acids). Where are the essential carbohydrates? Have I missed something here? No! They simply don’t exist. Contrary to government advice, we do NOT need CARBS. None of them.

So, let’s get this cleared up once and for all. Fat doesn’t make us fat on its own. It’s sugar that makes us fat. We can eat as much natural fat as we want and if there is no sugar in the body, it can’t create glycerol and therefore we can’t store it as fat.

DON’T COUNT CALORIES - HOW POINTLESS IS IT MEASURING CALO­RIES?! MEASURING THE CALORIFIC VALUE OF CARBS, PROTEIN AND FAT IS LIKE SAYING 100 AMERICAN DOLLARS, 100 BRITISH POUNDS AND 100 EUROS ARE ALL THE SAME AMOUNT OF CURRENCY. WHILST THEY ARE IDENTICAL MATHEMATICALLY, THEIR ACTUAL REALISABLE VALUES ARE ALL TOTALLY DIFFERENT.

This is why we don’t calorie count when we eat Primally, as we are only eating what is nutritionally beneficial for our body, which in return helps our body burn fat and lose weight.

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