As opposed to micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals that are needed in small quantities, macronutrients are the nutrients needed in large quantities. The macronutrients are protein, fat and carbohydrates, often abbreviated “PFC” and they make up all food. The protein, fat and carbohydrate macros are best eaten together at meals and snacks. When paired together, we call the meals “macro balanced” and they provide many benefits. Learn more below about the power of eating PFC macro balanced meals below.
What is PFC?
To reap the most nutrition it’s best to focus on real, whole foods at each meal which essentially means you’d choose foods in their most natural form and limit the amount of refined, processed and packaged foods you consume. This not only ensures you get all the nutrients you need to perform your best, but it limits the amount of unnecessary stress your body might endure to break down and absorb unrecognizable or potentially triggering ingredients.
In the context of real food, here are the foods that make up P, F, and C:
- proteins include meat, fish, poultry, eggs, some dairy
- fats include nuts, seeds, oils, full fat dairy
- carbohydrates include fruits, vegetables, 100% whole grains
Of course, many foods contain a mixture of more than one macronutrient, but for the sake of simplicity, it’s easiest to focus on these whole foods and their dominant macro.
why should I eat macro balanced?
Eating protein, fat and carbohydrate containing foods in balance at each meal and snack allows for well managed blood sugar. And stable blood sugar is the key to consistent energy levels, positive moods, improved mental clarity, supported metabolism, minimized sugar cravings and fewer hangry episodes.
But I don’t have diabetes. Why should I care about my blood sugar?
Eating carbohydrates triggers a blood sugar spike and subsequent insulin response. Among many other things, by being able to manipulate and control blood sugar and the insulin hormone, we
- can start to burn fat for energy, and stop storing it
- ensure muscles get properly fueled after exercise
- can have lasting energy throughout the day and stop crashing
So, even though you might not have diabetes, nor are you at risk for developing it, understanding carbohydrates and their relationship to blood sugar can help you control your weight, fuel your athletic performance, and hack your energy levels.
the PFC lowdown
Sharp spikes in blood sugar lead to a rapid insulin release to bring blood sugar down. Much like a rollercoaster, you might imagine the steep peaks and valleys in your blood sugar throughout the day when you eat too many carbohydrates or carbohydrates that are not paired with fat and protein. This causes sugar to flood the blood (peak), while insulin comes to clear sugar out of the blood (valley).
A day at the amusement park is exhausting – much like it is when you ride a blood sugar rollercoaster all day long. You might feel a mix of tired, anxious, irritable, craving, jittery, or sluggish, and you ain’t got time for all that!
So how do we make for a little more calm?
Blood sugar stability is determined by three variables:
- the amount of carbohydrates in a meal
- the type of carbohydrates eaten
- the combination of carbohydrates among other macronutrients in a meal
Eating PFC balanced meals ensures blood sugar stability because it addresses those three variables:
- the overall amount of carbohydrate in a meal is limited because you’re also eating protein and fat containing foods, which are the most filling macronutrients.
- whole, real type carbohydrate foods have a plethora of vitamins, minerals and fiber which slow down digestion and absorption, ultimately limiting the blood sugar spike.
- combining carbohydrate containing foods with protein-containing and fat-containing foods in a single meal slows digestion and absorption – limiting the overall speed and spike of blood sugar.
If it sounds pretty great to enjoy consistent energy and focus, eliminate carb and sugar cravings, stabilize your mood, achieve and maintain a healthy weight, then try eating protein, fat and carbohydrate containing foods in balance with each other at every meal. Need some help with that? Let’s break it down to 5 steps in this guide.