Building a Campfire, Part II: The MacroMix

The food we eat can be divided into three major groups of macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Macronutrients supply energy in the form of calories to our bodies. (Now you have a great word to impress your friends!)

Think about the different wood used on that campfire. Carbohydrates are represented by the dried leaves, newspaper and twigs that we place on the campfire. If you light a newspaper on fire, the flame is big, bright, and burns out very quickly. Carbs are like that. They are the fastest burning fuel, giving us very quick energy, but don't stay with us very long.Carbs come in 2 types: simple and complex.

Simple carbs or sugar are the dried leaves and newspaper. Simple carbs are sugar, syrup, fruit juice, jam, candy. These are the super fast fuels with no staying power. Think about it. If you have a little glass of OJ in the morning and nothing else, how long does it take until you get hungry again? That's what I thought!

Twigs are complex carbs or starch: breads, cereal, vegetables, rice, pasta, beans. They still burn fairly quickly, but the flame lasts longer than sugar. Complex carbs do better at keeping you fuller longer than simple carbs.

Protein is represented by the medium size logs. They provide a lower flame than the leaves and twigs, but burn much longer. Protein is found in meat, fish, eggs, soy, chicken, beans, legumes, nuts. You've experienced protein's staying power already: when you eat eggs for breakfast you feel fuller longer than if you only had toast in the morning. Protein power vs. carb power.

The great big log is fat. You don't need much at all, but one log gives a slow, steady burn for hours. And so it is with a little dietary fat: a little bit keeps you feeling fuller the longest.

Our goal is to keep the flames burning steadily all day long so that we don't have our blood sugar level and metabolic rate crashing and burning. We want to stay at peak mental and physical performance levels. How do we do it?

Eat a MacroMix! Try to have at least 2 macronutrients in each meal or snack, and you will find your campfire has much better staying power. Try protein and complex carbs, protein and fat, or complex carbs and fat. If you want the best staying power, go for the trio: complex carb, protein and fat.

MacroMix Mini-Meal/Snack Ideas:
  • Peanut butter on whole grain crackers
  • Apple slices dipped in peanut butter
  • Whole grain toast with low-fat cheese
  • Whole grain English Muffin, pizza sauce, low-fat mozzarella cheese, broiled
  • Smoothie: low-fat yogurt or soy milk, banana, berries
  • Celery with almond butter, raisins on top
  • Trail mix: Cherrios, dried cherries, nuts
  • Granola bar, high fiber and string cheese
  • Low-fat yogurt with 6 walnut halves
  • Leftover slice of pizza
What other ideas do you have for a MacroMix Mini-meal?

You are in control of your own campfire. It makes a difference what type of fuel you add to the fire and how often you feed the fire throughout the day. Do the best you can with you food choices, but one thing is for sure...

Keep your campfire burning brightly--You'll be much healthier and happier when you do!