Nutrition Basics: Take A Look At Macronutrients

If you would like to learn a bit more about nutrition and “macros,” or macronutrients, take a quick read through this post.

There are three different types of macronutrients: Carbohydrates, Lipids (Fats), and Protein.  Macronutrients are nutrients that are required in a large portion of the human diet in order to survive.

Let’s begin with one of the most controversial macronutrients today: Carbohydrates (Carbs).

carbohydrates-foods

Carbohydrates are the main energy source of the body and occur in two forms: simple carbs and complex carbs.  Simple carbs are in the form of sugars, and complex carbs are in the form of starches and fibers.  Carbohydrates are found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, milk, candies, etc. 

However, complex carbohydrates are much different than simple carbohydrates.  Complex carbohydrates digest much slower over time so that your body has a more constant supply of energy in comparison to simple carbohydrates.  Complex carbohydrates come from vegetables, whole grains, and fruits and should be the main energy source taken in by the body throughout the day.  Eating complex carbohydrates will to maintain blood sugar levels and improve weight loss or maintenance.

Simple carbohydrates should be limited when possible.  Simple carbohydrates are relatively empty calories that provide energy for a very little period of time and do not benefit one’s diet very much (however, this can be situational).  About 45 – 65 % of your diet should stem from carbohydrate sources, with as much of this as possible from complex carbohydrates.

Sugar is the main source of simple carbohydrates and can be found naturally in some foods, such as fruits, milk and some grains.  It is also added to many soft drinks, fruit beverages (gatorade, powerade, etc), etc.  However, these sugars do not do much for the body except to provide a very temporary energy source; in the long run, they just add calories to the diet. 

Make a serious effort to limit calories from sugar, attempting to keep it to less than 10% of total calories or less. Following these healthy diet tips will further your progress to a longer, healthier, and more fit life (which is the main goal, right?)!

The next macronutrient we will look at is protein.  Protein helps to make up almost every cell in the human body, and is very necessary for human growth and development. 

various-protein

Approximately 20-35% of the diet should be from protein sources.  Also, protein is a very important source of calories and energy that the body needs each day.  Protein can be obtained from both animal and plant products, and there are benefits that can be seen from both. 

To summarize this, animal proteins are complete proteins containing all of the necessary amino acids that the body cannot synthesize.  In other words, the essential amino acids we must consume in the diet in order to function properly!

On the other hand, plant proteins are not complete proteins and only will contain certain types of amino acids.  However, plant proteins do have many other types of nutrients and chemicals that promote health and growth within the body that are not found in animal proteins. 

On top of this, fish (seafood) products should be eaten twice per week because they contain omega fatty acids, which are very healthy for the human body.  Omega fatty acids have proven to help keep joints strong and lower blood cholesterol levels. 

Overall, lean sources of protein (chicken, pork, lamb, whey protein, lean beef choices, etc) are preferred when consuming protein.  Products such as canned tuna and chicken are more affordable products and are very protein dense as well. These types of foods are easy to add to various recipes.

This leads us to the last macronutrient we will discuss, lipids (fats).  Fats should make up approximately 10-25% of the diet, with 10% or less of these calories coming from saturated (or trans) fats.

assorted oils

Most people think of fat as being horrible for the body and completely try to avoid them.  However, fats aren’t necessarily the enemy!  Although there are many different types of foods and fats that should be avoided, there are also many fats that are very good and healthy for the body  (as we discussed about omega fatty acids above). 

Fat from the diet is needed to help your body absorb different vitamins and minerals, it also helps to maintain cellular structure within the body’s cells, and actively participates in keeping the immune system healthy.  However, you must be careful in what types of fat you consume; if possible trans fats and saturated fats should be avoided as much as possible. 

On the other hand, monoglycerides are fats that can be obtained from foods like olive oil and seafood and these fats help to reduce bad cholesterol in the body and promote good cholesterol as well.  Unfortunately, fat is very calorie dense and if taken in too much it can add up very quickly and vastly increase a person’s body weight. 

Make sure to monitor the amount of fat you intake as well as what types of fat you are consuming.  If consuming the “right” types of fat, they can be very beneficial for your health!

Also important to remember when counting calories:

  • Carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram
  • Protein contains 4 calories per gram
  • Fat contains 9 calories per gram

This is just a very basic introduction into nutrition and macronutrients.  If you’re looking to gain weight, definitely take a look at our introduction to bulking.  Make sure to check back for more updates and in-depth posts about nutrition!

Any comments about the post?

Any other questions you have regarding nutrition?

Make sure to let us know in the comments below!

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