Have you ever found yourself wondering about the nutritional contents of the food you are eating but couldn’t find any information?
To be honest, we’ve all been there.
Understanding nutritional information on food labels is important, especially if you’re trying to achieve fitness goals. A recommended way to analyze your nutritional intake is through tracking macronutrients. You’ll be able to dial in on your food intake and you’ll be able to see which macronutrients have the highest caloric value.
Toronto-based Naturopathic Doctor, Dr Courtney Ranieri works with many clients with similar fitness goals. She says tracking macronutrients can help clients track their food intake without being too restrictive.
“I love helping my patients to track their macros so that they have freedom to choose the foods they want while still meeting their health goals! This helps them reduce stresses that come along with meal planning and allows them to enjoy their lives without guilt.”
There are applications that can help you track macronutrients like myfitnesspal. These will help you stay on track and document what your macronutrient intake is on a daily basis. That way you can measure your progress over time. You can document what you eat at home and you can get an approximate idea of what you’re eating when you order takeout.
The fact is, eating well and eating takeout do not need to be mutually exclusive. There are easy ways to count your macros and estimate the calorific value of the meals that you get from a restaurant.
So let’s find out how to track macronutrients from takeout.
What are macronutrients?
The three main macronutrients in our diet are carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Consuming the right proportion of all these three is essential for good health.
According to Naturopathic Doctor Courtney, macros are a tangible way to track what you can eat in a day.
“Think of macros as your money - you only have so much to spend on each category (protein, fats and carbohydrates) daily to stay on budget. Your individual macro budget is determined based off of your health targets - ie weight loss, muscle gain, hormonal health etc. This way we can focus on nutrition quality and fueling your body properly.”
Let’s take a look at all three macronutrients in detail.
Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for the body as they can be easily converted into glucose. They can be classified into two types.
- Complex carbohydrates which consist of polysaccharides and oligosaccharides.
- Simple carbohydrates which consist of monosaccharides and disaccharides.
Carbs are stored in the form of glycogen in the liver and also in the skeletal muscles. Once the stock runs out due to physical activity, it’s replenished through diet.
Complex carbs are made of long chains of sugar that take more time to break down. So they release energy at a slow and steady rate. These include 100% whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, quinoa, beans, barley, potatoes, etc.
They are also rich in components like vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. On the whole complex carbs are the best options for staying healthy as they promote intestinal health and also help in reducing cholesterol levels.
On the other hand, simple carbohydrates are made from one or two sugar units and can be broken down very quickly. Some easy sources of simple carbs are raw sugar, corn syrup, concentrated fruit juice, and white flour. The main problem with simple carbs is they are devoid of essential nutrients and fiber.
Proteins are the suppliers of amino acids, which act as the building blocks of the body. They play an important role in the various chemical reactions in the body and also act as neurotransmitters.
Also, they play the role of multiple hormones and enzymes. In the absence of carbohydrates, they are broken down to deliver energy.
The two primary types of amino acids are the essential and the non-essential ones. There are 20 amino acids in total, nine of which are classified as essential ones. The body can’t produce the nine essential amino acids and these are consumed from the diet.
Some of the most important protein sources are meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, milk. In addition, there are plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, quinoa, and soy.
Beyond that, there’s another form of an amino acid called conditional amino acids. These are not essential but are required to recover from special conditions like illness or stress.
Fats play plenty of crucial roles in our daily functioning. First, they are a dense energy source and can supply more energy than carbs and proteins. So they can be a lifesaver in conditions like starvation or calorie deprivation.
Beyond that, they are an important constituent of cell structure and a prime carrier of fat-soluble vitamins. Other than that, fatty acids play an extremely important role in various important physiological processes
Basically, there are two types of fats.
- Saturated fats are primarily supplied from meat and dairy sources. They remain in solid form at room temperature.
- Unsaturated fats can be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. These generally come from fish, eggs, and plant sources like nuts and flaxseeds. They generally remain in liquid form even under refrigeration.
It has been established that a diet rich in monounsaturated fats can help in preserving heart health and lowering blood pressure levels.
Micronutrients vs Macronutrients
Unlike the macronutrients, our bodies need micronutrients in small quantities. So their consumption is measured in milligrams or even micrograms.
The most common micronutrients are Vitamins like Vitamin B-6, Vitamin B-12, Vitamin C
Vitamin E, folate, and minerals like calcium, zinc, sodium, iron, etc.
Micronutrients play many vital roles in the body including physical growth, immune function, brain development, and also act as antioxidants.
Tracking Macronutrients in Foods
The easiest way to track the macros is to check if a restaurant publishes the necessary nutrition information online.
We publish our nutritional information available online and break it down by macronutrients. Click here to order.
In case that’s not available, you can mark the various components of a meal and check the nutrition information of each one in Google. For that, you’ll have to eyeball an approximate portion size of each component.
If you want something simpler, using myfitnesspal is a great option. The app comes with a calorie counter and a huge database of over 14 million foods. That way, you can easily estimate the amount of macronutrients in takeout foods. If you can’t find the exact dish, look for something similar that will give you an idea.
It's an easy way to track macronutrients in complex food items like pizza.
In addition, myfitnesspal helps you to estimate your calorie requirements based on height, and weight. While these aren’t the perfect data points, they can give you a baseline to begin your fitness journey.
While both won't be fully accurate, you’ll have a good idea of the caloric value, and macronutrient content of what you’re eating. It’s also best to overestimate the portions and calories in most takeout can easily be on the higher side.
Here’s a tip: When the information isn’t readily available, it’s best to choose simple food items with common ingredients. Complex meals are more difficult to track.
To Sum it Up
Tracking macronutrients is an important part of meeting your fitness goals. You get an idea of how much protein you’re consuming to build muscle, carbohydrates for energy, and fats to help absorb the nutritional properties of other foods.
You can track your macronutrients through myfitnesspal or Google the ingredients.
We serve everyday salads and warm bowls with real Peruvian flavours which list the macronutrients and calories. We are proud of both our flavour and nutrition but don't take our word for it; read our Google review here.
Click here to order today.