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MACRONUTRIENTS – THE BASICS OF NUTRITION

MACRONUTRIENTS

The importance of Carbohydrates, Protein and Fat

food

Macronutrients are nutrients needed for growth, metabolism and the rest of other functions of the body. They are called “Macro” because they are needed in large amounts in the body.

The macronutrients are :

Carbohydrate

Protein

Fat

Carbohydrate provides 4 calories per gram

Protein provides 4 calories per gram

Fat provides 9 calories per gram

Besides carbohydrate, protein and fat the only other substance that provides calories is alcohol that is not a macronutrient because we don`t need it for survival only for pleasure I would say.

Alcohol provides 7 calories per gram

CARBOHYDRATES

Why do we need them ?

Carbohydrates are the body`s main source of fuel.

Carbohydrates are converted directly for energy.

All of the tissues and cells in your body can use glucose for energy.

Carbohydrates are essential for the brain, muscles (including heart), kidneys and the central nervous system to function properly.

Carbohydrates can be stored in the muscles and liver

and later used for energy.

Carbohydrates are important for intestinal health.

Where do we found them ?

Carbs are mainly found in starchy foods like grains and potatoes, rice, fruits, milk and yogurt. We find complex carbs also in vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and cottage cheese.

Classification

We find three main types of carbohydrate in food :

Starches (complex carbohydrates) Ex: starchy vegetables – peas, corn, potatoes ; whole grains – oats, barley, rice.

Sugars (fast-acting carbydrates) Ex: all types of sugar both natural (fructose and lactose) and artificially (table sugar, powdered sugar, cane sugar, fructose corn syrup etc.)

Fiber

Starches with a low glicemic index are slowly digested and are good for you because they don`t spike your insulin level which means they don`t raise your blood sugar level.

Sugars are a fast-acting carbohydrate which means that they are digested very fast and raise your blood sugar level and if you don`t use that energy right away it will be stored as fat for later use.

Fiber comes only from plant foods and contributes to digestive health, helps to keep you regular, and helps to make you feel satisfied after eating.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), adults need to try to eat 25 to 30 grams of fiber each day, for good health.

PROTEIN

Why is protein important ?

Protein is essential for building muscle mass and for growth (especially children, teens and pregnant women).

Protein repairs damaged tissues.

Protein has immune functions.

Protein builds essential hormones and enzymes.

Protein can be converted in energy by the body when carbohydrates are not available (low-carb diets).

Protein helps to preserve the lean muscle mass.

Where we can found protein ?

Protein is found meats, fish (one of the best source of protein), poultry, cheese, milk, nuts, legumes and in small quantities in starchy foods.

FAT

Why do we need fat ?

Fat is converted by the body for energy – the most concentrated source of energy.

Fat is used for absorbing certain vitamins ( vit. A, D, E, K, and carotenoids)

Fat is providing cushioning for the organs.

Fat maintains cell membranes.

Fat provides the taste and consistency to foods.

Although fat has a bad reputation for causing weight , fat is essential for survival.

There are three main types of fat: Saturated fat, Unsaturated fat and Trans fat.

Saturated fat is found in: meat, butter, lard, etc.

Unsaturated fat is found in: nuts, avocados, olive oil, canola oil.

Trans fat is found in: baked goods, snack foods, fried foods and margarines.

Many studies over the years have been shown that saturated fat and trans fat increase the risk for heart disease while unsaturated fat decrease the risk of developing a heart disease.

 

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