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What Are Macros?

Food powers the engine of your health. A nutritious diet boosts immunity, protects the body against inflammation and oxidative stress, and safeguards from chronic health conditions. It’s therefore very important to understand the different types of nutrients present in foods and their impact on the body. A good place to start is by first looking at the 2 main types of nutrients.

According to the dictionary, the word “macro” translates as something large or major. Consequently, macronutrients refers to nutrients required by living organisms in relatively large amounts. In general terms, this type of nutrient includes carbohydrates , protein and fat . They provide fuel (calories) for cells and organs throughout your body for your daily activities and should be part of each meal. Each of the three macronutrients affects your body differently and have a different role to play.

However, food is not just about energy – we also need micronutrients otherwise known as essential vitamins and minerals. These nutrients do not contribute significantly caloric intake but play a critical role in metabolism, the immune system and make sure we do not get sick. Micronutrients such as iron , calcium or zinc can be classified as macronutrient too since they are required in large quantities for proper functioning of the human body.

Macronutrients: The Powerhouses of Food

The three macronutrients – carbohydrates, proteins and fats – are linked together in some way, either as building blocks (proteins) or as a source of energy (carbohydrates and fats). They contain calories that fuel your body; those calories can be used immediately for energy or stored for later use. Macronutrients also play an important role in the growth and maintenance of cells throughout the body.

Carbohydrates: Your Body’s Primary Source of Energy

Carbohydrates are branched chain molecules made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. The carbs we eat are broken down into sugar (glucose) for fuel to produce energy that your body uses to function properly. Your liver and muscles store glucose as glycogen, which is a polysaccharide (a carbohydrate made up of many simple sugars). It is the primary source of energy in your body; it can also be found stored in your muscles or between your cells as fat.

Carbohydrates come from all kinds of food – fruits, vegetables, beans and grains. The macronutrient includes dietary fiber and non-digestible carbohydrates such as resistant starch and oligosaccharides – these provide health benefits but adds zero calories to what you’re eating..

However, not all carbohydrates are healthy. Some can cause a spike in blood sugar levels and therefore a rise in insulin, which is the main regulator of blood sugar levels. This causes not only weight gain, an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease, but also inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.

Carbohydrates can further be classified into simple and complex carbohydrates.

Simple carbohydrates are foods that are broken down very quickly during digestion to sugar, therefore they are easily absorbed by the body. This includes foods like fruit, milk, yogurt and sugar.

On the other hand, Complex Carbohydrates are made up of many simple sugar molecules linked to each other, therefore their absorption is at a slower rate. They are also known as polysaccharides or starches. Hence they take longer time to break down and provide nutrients aside from carbs. As a result, this type of carbohydrate has less impact on blood glucose levels and insulin secretion compared with simple sugars.

Generally- Carbohydrates that cause blood sugar levels to rise rapidly (simple carbs) should be avoided; instead you should choose complex carbohydrates which provide fiber and take longer for the body to break down; they also tend to contain nutrients such as B vitamins , magnesium, iron and potassium. Vegetables like broccoli, spinach, cabbage and Brussels sprouts are good examples of these kinds of food sources.

Proteins: The Building Blocks of the Body

If you’re going to build something from scratch – whether it’s a house or a human being – one way is by assembling components. In biology terms, those components are called amino acids , which form proteins.

A protein’s function depends on its sequence of amino acid molecules which is unique for every protein. In other words, proteins don’t work as a whole but depend on their structure to perform properly.

All kinds of meat, dairy foods and eggs contain complete proteins – meaning that they provide all 9 essential amino acids . On the other hand, not all vegetables are incomplete proteins (meaning they lack one or more essential amino acids), but it is possible to combine different sources of plant-based protein to make up for the missing ones.

An average adult requires about 46 grams of protein per day; athletes require anywhere between 1.6-1.8 grams of protein per kilogram body weight (grams/kg) per day .

To keep it simple – carbohydrates provide your body with fuel and nutrients, which assists in keeping you healthy and strong. Proteins on the other hand are needed for growth, maintenance and repair of cells.

Fat: The most Misunderstood Macronutrient

Think about fat and you’ll probably think of something that is unhealthy or at least, fattening. For a long time, fat was considered the culprit for obesity and heart disease . In reality, it’s not the amount of fat but what kind of it you eat which has an impact on your health.

In fact, without fat , you cannot survive due to its essential role in regulating hormones, brain function and heart rate . It also plays a big part in normal growth and development. Fat helps give your body energy, protects your organs, supports cell growth, keeps cholesterol and blood pressure under control, and helps your body absorb vital nutrients.

Moreover- Carbohydrates are turned into body fats when they're not used up as energy immediately after eating.

For an average adult, fat makes up about 20% of their daily energy intake while carbohydrates make up to 50% and proteins make up the other 30%. Athletes would typically require more carbohydrates while athletes who are trying to lose weight might need a bit more fats in their diet due to its higher number of calories per gram (9kcal) compared to carbs and proteins (4kcal).

These keeping track of these numbers and the calories while going on with you daily life can become overwhelming. One thing that you must have understood if you read till here is that these terms and numbers are the most important ones in life. If you are having trouble dealing with these- hit us up! Click on the button below and we'll ensure that you have the above in check. :)


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