According to BetterChoices, when researching a healthier way of eating, it is important to understand the importance of carbs, protein, and fat.
Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are macronutrients. These macronutrients are nutrients that provide calories or energy. Macronutrients are needed for growth, metabolism, and other body functions. Our bodies require them in relatively large amounts, hence the word “macro”.
While our bodies require other nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, macronutrients are the main components of our diets.
Why Macronutrients Are Essential To Your Healthy Lifestyle:
• Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates (carbs) are the MAIN energy source of the body. Carbs are the macronutrients that we need in the largest amounts. They are the chains of small, simple sugars that are broken down and enter our bodies as glucose. Glucose (sugar) is the preferred source of energy in our brain, heart, & nervous system. According to the USDA, 45%-65% of our daily caloric intake should come from carbs. Knowing the difference between good carbs & bad carbs will help you make better choices. You want to make sure you are choosing fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains. These foods contain fiber which is essential for your gastrointestinal health & lowering cholesterol.
5 Reason Why You Need Carbohydrates:
1. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel & easily used by the body for energy.
2. All of the tissues & cells in our body use glucose for energy.
3. Carbs are needed for the central nervous system, kidneys, brain, & the muscles to function properly.
4. Carbs can be stored in the muscles & liver to be used later for energy.
5. Carbs are important for intestinal health and waste elimination.
• Protein: Protein is an important part of life and nutrition. It is the substance that composes a large portion of your body’s structure. Our body breaks down the protein that contain amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. These amino acids are linked together in complex formations. There are 20 different amino acids, 9 of these amino acids are essential — meaning we need to get them from our diet because our bodies are not able to produce them naturally. The other amino acids are nonessential because our bodies can make them. Complete proteins are found in animal products such as meat, eggs, and milk. Incomplete proteins are found in plant sources and they do not contain all of the essential amino acids.
According to the USDA, 10%-35% of our daily caloric intake should come from protein. By consuming a balanced diet, you will get plenty of protein & easily meet these dietary recommendations. Protein is found in meats, poultry, fish, meat substitutes, cheese, milk, nuts, legumes, starchy foods and vegetables. Note, the amount of protein will vary based upon the source of your protein.
5 Reason Why You Need Protein:
2. Tissue repair
3. Immune function
4. Making essential hormones and enzymes
5. Preserving lean muscle mass
• Fat: This macronutrient gets a bad wrap! Why? Because we tend to group all fat as BAD FAT & it’s simply not true! You must eat HEALTHY FATS in order to lose fat! Because fat is a macronutrient, it is essential for our survival & for maintaining a healthy body.
According to the USDA, 20%-35% of our daily caloric intake should come from fat. The key to this macronutrient is avoiding the bad fats and consuming more of the good fats. You want to avoid saturated and trans fat, which have been shown to increase your risk for heart disease. Simply swap for unsaturated fats and the essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6.)
Saturated Fats: found in foods like meat, butter, lard, & cream
Trans Fats: found in foods like baked goods, snack foods, fried foods, & margarines
Unsaturated Fats: found in foods like olive oil, avocados, nuts, & canola oil.
5 Reason Why You Need Fat:
1. Normal growth and development
3. Absorbing certain vitamins (A, D, E, K, & carotenoids)
4. Protection – insulation to keep the body temperature & cushioning to protect body organs.
5. Maintaining cell membranes
QUICK TIP: A calorie deficit can cause weight loss, but a change in your macronutrients can shift your body into fat burning mode while preserving muscle tissue. Be sure to consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet/macronutrient ratios.
There is some interesting information, as well as fitness calculators at IIFYM (If it fits your macros).