If you are just getting started with fitness or nutrition you might have heard someone talk about macronutrients. What are macronutrients (often calls macros) though and why should you care? We will go over all of that in this article.
The term macronutrient (macro) is somewhat clear in what it means. Basically for the human body to to develop, grow, and sustain normal function you need macronutrients. Food is composed of some combinations of the three major macronutrients which are fat, protein, and carbohydrates. Macronutrients is where you body gets calories from and it important in everyday life.
Yes, your read that right. I did say fat and carbohydrates (carbs) are important for body functioning. 🙂
Let's start off with the most misunderstood macronutrient, fat. People think fat is bad. Actually fat is an plays an important role in your body. You need fat;
- For protecting vital organs
- Storing energy
- And transporting fat soluble vitamins
Roughly 20% – 35% of your daily diet should come from fats. What does that mean in terms of food? Oils, meats, fish, dairy, seeds, and micronutrients.
You should not exceed more than 10% of your daily calories from Saturated Fats. This means butter, full-fat dairy, cream cheese, and coconut and palm oil.
1 gram of fat contains 9 calories.
I should be clear I'm not saying too much adipose tissue (fancy term for fat) is good for people. You do need to be consuming some in diet and working it off with calories in and calories out.
Carbohydrates are the second macronutrient we are going to be talking about. What role do Carbohydrates play in your body?
- Fuels your Brain (Central Nervous System)
- Fuels your body during exercise, (running, swimming, etc.)
- Spares protein which can keep you muscle mass while exercising.
1 gram of carbohydrates contains 4 calories.
You can obtain healthy carbohydrates by eating whole grains, low-fat and non-fat dairy, and fruit.
If you are extremely athletic roughly 70% of your daily diet should be carbohydrates. With physical training you can store five times more Glycogen (animal carbohydrates in meat and seafood) in your body. This pretty much means athletes have the ability to store a lot more carbs.
If you exercise somewhat regularly, at least four times a week or more, 60% of your diet should come from carbohydrates.
If you don't more around much, only 40% – 50% of your daily intake of food should come from carbohydrates.
Protein is the building blocks for human structure. Proteins functions;
- Help form the brain and nervous system.
- Help form blood, hair, skin, tendons, ligaments, bones, and muscle.
- Transport mechanism for iron, vitamins, minerals, fats, and oxygen.
- The key to acid-bad and fluid balance.
- Produces enzymes that regulate your body's metabolism.
- Fights infection and disease.
That is why it is so important for human development and why you see see people pushing the important of protein in the fitness world.
You can get protein in your diet by eating rice, legumes (beans), nuts, seeds, whole grains, meat, and some vegetables.
If you are eating some animal products, meat, these are known as complete proteins. They contain all of the essential amino acids you need in your diet. Typically plant foods are not complete proteins which means they do not contain all of the essential amino acids.
The exception to this is soy. This is why you see a lot of vegans and vegetarians loading up on a lot of soy in they're diets. Vegans and vegetarians need it to maintain a healthy amount of protein.
If you are not doing much exercise it is recommend that you consumer 0.36 grams of protein per pound of your weight. If you are somewhat active this is increased to 0.45-0.68 grams of protein. An Athlete can consumer 0.54-0.82 grams of protein for every pound of weight.