You may have heard the term macro-nutrient being thrown around, and although most people may know what macro nutrients are, some may not. It is important to know the role macro nutrients have in our daily functions.
There are three macro nutrients that our bodies use in large quantities to function daily. Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fats, and all are necessary for our daily routines, however, while they supply our bodies with the most energy, they all have different roles in our body functions.
We have all heard that protein is the building block of the body. Proteins are amino acids that the body uses to create more protein for cellular functioning, as a source of energy, and as the building blocks for our muscles. Protein is also important in that it protects the organ functions in our bodies, and is also responsible for the formation of hair, nails, and other tissues.
1 gram of protein contains four calories.
Carbohydrates is one of the macro nutrients that our bodies need most and is also one of the most misunderstood of the three macro nutrients. Carbs are made up of starches and sugar and is the primary source of fuel for our bodies. Our bodies break down most carbs easily which then becomes our main energy source. It is recommended that we consume 45-65% of carbohydrates in our diets.
Most carbs are broken down into whats called simple and complex carbs. Simple carbs are broken down easily in the body (ie: donuts, sweets, etc). Complex carbs, like brown rice and sweet potatoes take longer to break down by the body.
Like protein, 1 gram of carbs contains 4 calories.
Fats, the other macro nutrient that gets a bad rap, and more so than carbs, is very important in the diet to stay healthy. The recommended daily allowance for fat in the diet is 20-35%.
Fats also serves an energy source for your body, and is one of the preferred methods used for storing unused calories. For most of us, fat storage can be seen around our stomach and thigh areas. Although your body stores small amounts of glucose, body fat provides unlimited amount of energy which is used while you sleep, during exercise, and between meals.
Another important aspect of fat is that there are some good fats. I know that may sound like a contradiction but remember that is due to the lack of understanding of the role that fats has in our diets. Good Fats like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are necessary for our bodies. Unfortunately, the body does not produce these fats and they can be found in foods like oily fish, walnuts and eggs, and omega-6 fatty acids can be found in most vegetable oils and can be supplemented.
There are three primary types of dietary fat saturated fat, unsaturated fat, and trans fat.
Saturated fats are found in meat, butter, cream, and other animal sources. Unsaturated fats are found in olive oil, nuts, avocados, canola oil, and other plant sources, and trans fats are found in products like snack foods, fast food, and margarine.
There is 1 gram of fat consists of 9 calories.
One of the keys to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, is understanding the break down of foods and its effects on the body. Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats play important roles in our bodies and a better understanding of how these three macro nutrients work in concert is key to maintaining a longer, healthier lifestyle.
Reference: Kate Tendall, M.S., What are Macro nutrients? Everything You Need to know. AFPA. October 15, 2018.