Mind Your Fibromyalgia Podcast

Improving nutrition: Macronutrients (protein/fat/carbs)

June 01, 2022 Olga Pinkston MD Season 1 Episode 23
Mind Your Fibromyalgia Podcast
Improving nutrition: Macronutrients (protein/fat/carbs)
Show Notes Transcript

Episode 23 - Improving nutrition: Macronutrients
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This episode continues education on self-management of fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions. Food and nutrition are an essential part of your well-being. Proper nutrition is also essential if you have autoimmune diseases, like lupus or RA, or other chronic disorders.

Today I will talk about step two: replace. How you can replace or add nutrients into your food plan. I am discussing  macronutrients, three macros - carbohydrates, fats and protein, and why they are important for your health. 

WAITLIST  Mindful Eating for Autoimmune conditions, chronic pain, and fibromyalgia course.  (https://www.rheumcoach.com/mindfuleatingwaitlist).

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Welcome back to episode 23 of the Mind your Fibro Podcast. 

Today we continue talking about nutrition. 

During the previous episode, we discussed the importance of wholesome eating and what doctors mean when they advise that you should work on improving your diet. I explained the role of micronutrients on our health and how to improve your diet's vitamin, mineral, and other micronutrient content. You may want to go back to episode 22 to learn about micronutrients, as today we are focusing on Macronutrients or macros. 

Now everyone is nowadays, counting macros. It became popular in the past few years with Keto-type diets and low-carb eating. 

So what are macros, and why do we need to count them? 

Macros are the three categories of nutrients you eat the most and provide you with most of your energy. They are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Unlike the micros, which are the nutrients your body needs in smaller amounts, commonly referred to as vitamins and minerals, the chemicals your body requires to function, but micronutrients are not used for energy.

So macros are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. The body uses them in relatively large(macro) amounts (unlike micros, small amounts). Protein, Fat, or Carb -each type provides a certain amount of energy per gram, expressed in calories. 

So when someone counts macros, they are counting the number of grams they consume per day of each macro, how many grams of carbs, how many grams of fats, and how many grams of protein they ate that day. 

We will touch on the importance of counting macros later in the episode, but now we will discuss each macro in detail. 


Proteins are an essential part of your nutrition. We always hear comments about eating more protein, like "she does not eat enough protein," "make sure you have a protein with your meal," etc. 

So proteins are important because they are the building blocks of life.

Every cell in the human body contains protein. 

Proteins perform many functions in the body – DNA replications, structure to cells, transporting molecules, metabolic reactions, repair of structures, muscle mass, etc.

Enzymes, hormones, antibodies, neurotransmitters

You need protein in your diet to help your body repair cells and make new cells - heal.

Proteins are made of amino acids,  molecules that combine to form proteins.

Your body needs 20 different amino acids to grow and function properly.

The best sources of essential amino acids are animal proteins such as meat, eggs, and poultry. Some plant foods contain protein, such as soy products, edamame, tofu, beans, legumes, and peas. 

After you eat protein, your body breaks it down into amino acids. It then uses them for various processes, such as building muscle and regulating immune function, transport, repair, and cell building.

Now Cabs

Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the body.

The sugars, starches, and dietary fiber occur in plant foods and dairy products. Carbohydrates are either called simple or complex, depending on the food's chemical structure and how quickly it is digested and absorbed.

Sugar: the simplest form of carbohydrate. It occurs naturally in some foods, including fruits, vegetables, milk, and milk products. 

Starch: is a complex carbohydrate. This means it is made of many sugar units bonded together. Starch occurs naturally in vegetables, grains, and cooked dry beans and peas.

Fiber: is a complex carbohydrate. It occurs naturally in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and cooked dry beans and peas. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body can't digest, but it can be digested by microbes that live in your gut. This is why eating fiber reach foods is important. I will cover the gut and the microbes that live in our gut, the microbiome, in another episode. 

Now Fat. The body uses fat as a fuel source, and fat is the primary storage form of energy in the body. We store fat for future use in case there is no food available. Fat also protects your organs, supports cell growth, keeps cholesterol and blood pressure under control, and helps your body absorb vital nutrients. 

There are several types of fats. 

Trans fat is considered the worst type of fat to eat. 

Trans fat increases LDL (L- lousy cholesterol, lowers high-density lipoprotein (HDL, the "good" cholesterol), and has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. It should not be consumed and avoided. You can spot trans fat on the food label. 

Trans fats are made when food makers turn liquid oils into solid fats, like shortening or margarine. Fried fast foods, such as fried chicken, doughnuts, and French fries can all contain high levels of trans fat

Another type of fat is called saturated fat. 

Saturated fats are called "saturated" because of their chemical structure. They become solid at room temperature. Animal meat, dairy, processed meats, and pre-packaged snacks are major sources of saturated fats. It's OK to consume saturated fats but in limited amounts. 

 Now, Unsaturated fats are the healthy fats. These fats can actually help lower your cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your overall health. If you don't get enough fat in your diet, you may notice symptoms such as dry rashes, hair loss, a weaker immune system, and issues related to vitamin deficiencies.

Unsaturated fats include olive oil, avocados, walnuts, flax seeds, and fish. 

One type of unsaturated fat is Omega 3. 

Omega-3 fats are a crucial part of the membranes of our cells.

It may help manage cholesterol, triglyceride, and blood pressure levels, support mental health, decrease liver fat (fatty liver), and fight inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish, flaxseed, and Omega-3 supplements such as fish oil. 

As you can tell, eating a variety of macronutrients is very important. 

If you consume mostly carbohydrates, sugars, and starches, your body will be missing protein and fats. The cell functions, tissue repair, and your energy levels will be impaired. 

So how do we count macros? You count grams of carb/protein/fat in your daily intake. There many online calculators you can use, where you plug in the food, and it will list you the components of that food in grams of protein, carb, and fat. 

It will guide your choices – using ratio – how many grams of carbs vs. protein vs. fat you want to consume

Different diets, including keto, recommend ranges of macronutrients that you can customize to help you feel your best and meet your goals. 

Counting the calories you eat is not the same as tracking your macronutrients. When you count calories, you ignore the food composition - you can consume 1000 calories per day of carbs only and miss out on nutrition because you are reducing calories. Some people can gain weight with low calories if they are of the wrong ratio, like consuming mainly cabs. 

So focusing on counting # macros – how much protein, fat, and carbs you are eating will guide you to pick nutrient-rich foods, not empty calories. 

Now you may need to consider both – if overeating is a problem or need to lose weight. But in general, counting macros makes you pay attention to food categories, ensuring you eat a variety of foods.

So look at the typical day and your food intake. 

Make a list of what you typically eat.

Estimate the macros – meat/protein, egg/protein, oil/fat, butter/fat, bread/carb, veg/fiber/carb, fruit/fiber/carb, candy/carb, soda/carb

Notice your patterns… awareness is the 1st step of change

2nd step is to categorize your problems in a way that makes them solvable, which will immediately change how you feel; you go from confused to motivated.

Be aware negative emotions lead to negative actions and results. – I will cover it in future episodes. 

I hope you found this helpful information.