What is the importance of each macro-nutrient?
Macro-nutrients are the three basic building blocks of our diets that we need to consume: protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Macros can be eaten in different ratios depending on your wellness goals that you are trying to achieve. It is important to understand the role of each macro when it comes to fueling your body and keeping it run the way it is supposed to.
Protein provides 4 calories per gram and is primarily known for its ability to help the body build and maintain muscle tissue. Protein is the building blocks for many of your body’s basic structures and functions; it helps keep bones strong, forms keratin that make up your hair and skin, and makes up part of your DNA. Protein is more difficult and takes longer for your body to digest than carbohydrates which means your body burns more calories when digesting it.
It is recognized for its ability to stave off hunger and keep you feeling satiated for longer periods of time, which is why it is associated with aiding fat loss. The proteins in food are made up of very small amino acids, which are utilized by the body to put together new proteins.
-The protein in our own bodies is made up of 20 amino acids, 9 of which we are unable to create on our own and must get from our diets. On a molecular level, protein is made up strings of amino acids which break down into single amino acids called peptides in our digestive systems. These individual amino acids form new peptide protein bonds that are unique to their specific functions in the body. Protein that comes from meat contains all the 9 essential amino acids we need whereas most plant-based sources contain only a few amino acids.
Fat provides 9 calories per gram and is the most calorie-dense macronutrient. Fat is in almost all foods because fat is used by many living things as an efficient means of storing energy. Fat is a crucial part of our diets because it gives us energy, keeps us warm, cushions our organs, keeps our skin and hair looking healthy, contributes to normal brain function, and is a source of fatty acids that our bodies cannot make on their own.
Carbs provide 4 calories per gram. Carbohydrates are a source of glucose, which your body turns into energy. There are 3 carbohydrates your body uses for fuel: starch, fiber and sugar. Fiber is the only carb we don’t digest, although it still needs to be a regular part of your diet for gut health and for a preventative for diseases/cancers. Complex carbs are made of long sugar-molecule chains and take longer for the body to digest, which means they serve as a time-released source of energy for your body. Good sources of complex carbs are fruits, vegetables, grains, etc. Simple carbs are made up of one or two sugar molecules which are quickly digested and only usable as energy for a short amount of time. Examples of simple carbs are sugary fruits, white rice, candy, etc.
All 3 macro-nutrients are crucial in all diets and depending on your wellness goals will be the determining factor on how many grams of macro-nutrients your body needs to reach those goals.
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Written By: Rebecca Desousa BS Nutritional Sciences