Let's chat about Macronutrients: what are they, and why do need them?!
"Macronutrients" is the umbrella term for Protein, Fats, and Carbohydrates.
Every food you eat/ beverage you consume is made up of a combination of these 3- unless we're talking about alcohol (this is its own category that we'll get to in a different post).
There is unfortunately a lot of #fakenews out there demonizing carbs, fats, and even proteins, but the truth is that each macronutrient plays an integral role in the body.
Let’s look at each of the Macronutrients, what it does, and where to get them!
Protein is a building block for your muscle tissue, but it is also a big part of what makes up your hair, skin, nails, bones, and cartilage. When you break down muscle tissue (from exercise, moving throughout the day, or if you get injured), your body utilizes protein to repair the broken down tissue, and build more tissue to support it. Protein also aids in the production of certain hormones, and enzymes that the body needs to perform daily functions. As we age, our bodies need more protein (not less!) to combat the deterioration of muscle and skeletal tissue, as well as hormone production.
Fat helps your body store energy, insulate organs, and regulate hormone production. It aids in the absorption of Vitamins A, D, E, and K, and it also boosts your brain function. If you’ve ever gone on a low-fat crash diet, you might have felt like you had brain fog, and this is why! There are four different types of fats; Saturated, Monounsaturated, Polyunsaturated, and Trans Fats. Your body needs all of them, just some more than others (AKA balance).
• Saturated Fats are found in things like Coconut Oil and MCT Oil.
• Monounsaturated Fats protect your heart, and support insulin sensitivity, weight management, and energy levels. You can find them in Avocado, and Olive Oil.
• Polyunsaturated Fats are most commonly found in Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fats. Omega-3s reduce inflammation while Omega-6s promote inflammation. It is important to have both in our bodies, because we cannot adapt/change/get stronger without a small dose of inflammation.
• Trans Fats are best avoided in the diet, so they’re kind of the exception to the “you need all of these” rule, but they are sometimes unavoidable. Trans fats are a byproduct of the processing of oils so that they don’t go rancid or turn into solids, so really the byproduct of preserving something so it doesn’t spoil is not ideal for you to be consuming in your diet.
Carbohydrates provide your body with the energy it needs to perform all daily activities, including walking, breathing, eating, and exercising. By utilizing carbohydrates for energy, your body is able to devote protein and fats to other bodily functions where there is a greater need, like building muscle, brain function, and reproduction. If you eat enough carbohydrates to sustain your energy levels, your body will be able to utilize those carbs as fuel, but if you eat too much in excess, your body stores the extra as reserve energy in fat cells. This happens more often with highly processed foods, as they are super palatable (they’re really fun to eat) and lower volume (more calorie-dense), so it is a lot easier to over eat them. There are simple and complex carbohydrates, so let’s look at those:
• Simple Carbs- these are basically just sugars, and are the most readily available forms of fuel for the body. These are mostly found in fruit juice and sweeteners like honey, sugar, and syrup.
• Complex Carbs- these are more nutrient-dense forms of carbohydrates, that have a combination of sugars and fiber, which makes them a little harder to break down in the short-term, but will help keep you fuller longer. Usually you will find these in whole, unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables (and starches), beans, and grains.