Macronutrients are energy-providing chemical compounds which humans consume in large quantities, hence the name „macro“!
There are three primary macronutrients – Carbohydrates, Proteins, Fats.
Water is perhaps the most important substance for life on Earth, but it does not provide any nutritional value and therefore is not considered a “Macro” nutrient.
Yes, it is „rich“ in micronutrients like calcium, salt and a few others, but that‘s it!
I think I can mention alcohol in here, since it is calorically dense enough to be considered a macronutrient (7 kCals per gram of alcohol), but it is not necessary to incorporate it in a diet. It‘s actually very far from necessary, because it occurs as poison in the human body, but I will leave the issue of alcohol in the human diet for another article.
I‘m going to look at how macronutrients take place in human and sports nutrition and I will do so briefly, and in the most simple way!
All diet plans work with ratios of calories and the three main macronutrients!
You can check out the Calorie article, as well, if You don‘t know what a calorie is, but for now, let‘s turn our attention to the topic of Macros.
Like I said above, there are three main macronutrients.
We have our Protein
They play a big role in regulating in maintaining proper bodily function.
The body breaks down protein into its building blocks called amino-acids. There are 21 amino acids that are considered necessary for life. Nine out of those 21 are considered essential, since the body is unable to produce them on its own and humans need to consume them from food. (I will look at the issue of essential and non-essential nutrients, since I believe its a topic that deserves sole dedication and attention)
I get it!
There is so much hype around this particular word(“Protein”) around the web, that I find it hard to learn what exactly “Protein” means.
If You type “Protein” in Google, what pops up is mostly “great offers” for protein powders and such.
In a nutshell, protein‘s main role in the human body is structural. In some cases it can have an energetic role, but under real-world conditions that’s rare and I don’t want to confuse You any more. My goal right now is for You to understand exactly what protein is.
These amino acids (Proteins) are the major constituent of most cells. Proteins are everywhere. They make up Your muscle and organ tissues, which is more than 50% of the human dry weight, there is protein in the skin and hair, also.
Many foods are high in protein. It is commonly found in animal products, such as chicken, beef, dairy products like milk, cheese, some legumes and nuts, as well. I will also leave out the topic of quality protein sources for another separate article.
Next, We have our Carbohydrates
The term “carbohydrate” is used for everything other than water, protein and fat, as far as macronutrients go!
Carbohydrates’ main role in the human body is to provide energy. They usually fall down in to two categories.
Simple and Complex.
Simple carbohydrates contain just one or two sugars. Fructose (found in fruits) and galactose (found in milk products). We call them monosaccharides. Carbs with two sugars — such as sucrose (table sugar), lactose (dairy) — are called disaccharides. Carbs found in candy, soda and other sugary drinks are considered simple as well.
Complex carbs have three or more sugars. They are often referred to as starchy foods and include beans, lentils, potatoes, corn, whole-grain breads, etc. We call these the polysaccharides.
Most tissues in the human body use glucose for fuel.
In the body, carbs are broken down into smaller sugars. The body absorbs them and sends them on a road trip with the bloodstream. There are two stops. The liver and the muscles. The rest is being released in the bloodstream as free glucose, but not before the liver has worked it’s magic on it, of course!
From a dietary standpoint we have two categories of carbohydrates!
Fibrous carbs are generally found in vegetables. They contain small amount of digestible carbs and large amounts of fiber, hence the name.
Starchy carbs are found in rice, grains, breads and they are the exact opposite of fibrous carbs – Large amounts of digestible carbs with low fiber amounts!
We have our Fats
Fat is an important and essential (I will discuss this in another article) nutrient to human bodily function. Just like carbohydrates and protein, fats provide calories and energy to the body!
Fats differ from protein and carbohydrate mainly in that, they are much more calorically dense. Twice as much, to be exact.
A single gram of protein yields about 4 kCals
A gram of carbohydrate contains about 4 kCals, as well
Fats contain somewhere around 9 kCals per gram
Fats play many important roles in proper bodily function. They help with vitamin absorption, overall hair and skin health, organ protection, brain function, bone health and many, many more.
There are four main fat categories:
- Trans Fats
I know this post is already long enough, so I will leave the discussion of types of fats for another time!
I want to make it as short and fun as possible! I really hope that this article might‘ve helped You with clearing up some nutritional basic information. There were some stuff that I did not mention, but I will do so another time!
Until next time!