Now that you’ve read all about the major macronutrients — fat, carbs, and protein — you’re probably wondering how the heck you make, like, meals and stuff. After all, foods aren’t just “nutrients”.
First of all, I love NutritionData.com like Perez Hilton loves a starlet meltdown. ND is especially useful because you can do a very detailed nutrient search (check under “Tools”). If you’re curious about which foods are higher in, say, the amino acid valine, ND is your all-knowing guru.
Second, here’s a little chart that might be helpful. Here are common foods that are good sources of the major nutrients.
Remember, whole foods are usually combinations of nutrients — most foods have a bit of everything. For example, I’ve filed beans and high-protein grains such as quinoa under “carbs” because their carbohydrate content outweighs their protein content. Nuts and nut butters go under “fat” for the same reason, although they also contain protein.
fats to avoid or minimize:
carbs to avoid or minimize:
protein to avoid or minimize:
Now let’s look at some sample meals that combine these three groups. I’ve given you some ideas from various cuisines.
If you’re controlling your carbohydrate intake, simply eliminate things like noodles and grains and minimize fruit in favour of vegetables. Note also that I’ve listed some vegetables as carb sources, but again, except for the root vegetables/tubers (carrots, yams, potatoes, taro, etc.), and squash, they’re mostly just vitamins, fibre and water.
Ideally, vegetables should form the largest proportion of your meals.
So, for instance, in your East Asian stir-fry, opt for something like 75%-80% vegetables (by volume), 4-6 ounces of protein (about the size of the palm of your hand or a deck of cards), a sparing sprinkle of nuts or sesame seeds, and a small serving of noodles (optional). Some nutritionists use the “plate method” to describe this: imagine half your plate is vegetables, one-quarter is protein, and one-quarter is the carbohydrate portion.
Personally I suggest that folks view starchy carbohydrates as a condiment and include about the same amount they’d use for other condiments such as salsa.
Again, in general, the bulk of your carbohydrates should generally be consumed around exercise, either before or after.
- (Thai) Beef, chicken or shrimp curry with coconut milk and vegetables (served over brown rice if desired)
- (South Asian) Same deal as Thai, except different curry seasonings and a side of cucumber in yogurt or carrot chutney, or a mango lassi (mango whipped with yogurt)
- (Greek or Middle Eastern) Roasted meat, poultry, seafood or tempeh with roasted zucchini, eggplant, and peppers brushed with a little olive oil, with a side of chickpea hummus or even straight tahini (sesame butter)
- (East Asian) Vegetables and protein of choice stir-fried with a little olive oil, served over soba (buckwheat) noodles, topped with a sprinkle of sesame seeds or crushed almonds
- (Italian) Grilled rabbit with whole wheat pasta in a tomato sauce and side of rapini tossed with a little olive oil
- (French) Nicoise salad with fish, boiled egg, green beans, salad greens and Dijon vinaigrette
- (German) Turkey sausage with red cabbage braised in a little olive oil and apple-vinegar sauce
- (Southern US) Pork tenderloin or turkey breast stuffed with apples, served with wild rice and squash, and a side of collard greens, topped with a sprinkle of chopped walnuts or pecans
- (Southwestern US) Chili made with beef, turkey, and/or beans (which in a vegetarian version count as the protein), served with guacamole and tomato salsa
- (California) Seafood served over greens, avocado and grapefruit, tossed with a vinaigrette
- (Korean) Bi bim bap: grilled beef or tempeh mixed with vegetables, served over brown rice with a cooked omega-3 egg on top
- (East African) Doro wat (chicken stew) with sauteed greens atop injera (teff flatbread) or with lentil stew; niter kibbeh (spiced butter) made with coconut oil
- (Indigenous Canadian) Grilled salmon (has omega-3 fatty acids) with wild rice; side of blueberries or stewed cranberries
- (Indigenous US) Wild game (has a good omega-3 fatty acid profile) with corn and beans; tomato salad
- (Latin American) Squash soup topped with pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and a side of grilled fish
- (Caribbean) Jerk chicken with pigeon peas, greens, and coconut