The Lowdown on Fats, Carbs and Sugars
When it comes to your macros, many people focus a lot of attention on protein. But there are three other macros that you’ll want to dial in if you want to see the fastest, greatest results from your workouts: Fats, carbs and sugars. Let’s dive in to what you need to know, and what you should do today to stay healthy, fit and strong!
Fat may have been painted as a villain in the past, but more and more research is showing that the picture is a little more convoluted than that. Healthy dietary fats help you absorb vitamins, improves brain function and mood, and provides energy when you exercise.
More important than quantity is quality. You want MORE omega-3s (from fish, flax, etc.) and monounsaturated fats (from avocados, almonds, olive oil, etc.) and little to no saturated or trans fats. Saturated fats and trans fats promote fat gain and also increases your risks of heart disease.
There’s no single rule on how much fat you need. Much of it depends on what type of diet you’re following:
- If you’re on keto, 50% to 75% of your calories should be from fat
- If you’re concerned about heart health, 20-35% of your calories should be from fat
Carbohydrates and Sugars 101
Carbohydrates are the powerhouse of your workout routine, literally. Carbs are one of the primary ways your body gets the energy it needs for running, sprinting, weight lifting, etc.
Just like with fats, there are so-called “good” and “bad” carbs:
- GOOD: High-fiber carbs from whole grains, fruits, beans and vegetables.
- BAD: Anything from refined grains (e.g. white flour and white bread) or sugar.
For general wellness, the World Health Organization recommends that less than 5% of your daily calories should come from natural or added sugar. That's less than 25 grams on a daily 1,800-calorie maintenance diet. Unfortunately, the average adult eats nearly 82 grams of sugar a day.
For most people, carbohydrates should make up 45-65% of your daily calories. So if you're on a maintenance diet of 1,800 calories, you'll want to be eating 202-293 grams of carbohydrates, with little to none of that coming from sugar.