Macronutrients or macros are the nutrients your body needs large amounts of every day to function at its best ability. The three macronutrients you need are protein, carbs and fats. They provide your body with calories that convert into energy. Your body also needs smaller micronutrients like vitamins and minerals, which can be found within the macronutrients.
Here is what you need to know about the three macronutrients and maximizing your health.
Macros are the fuel you take in during the day to create energy. The primary macros, carbs, protein and fats help your body stay healthy and functioning.
Carbs are the body’s preferred energy source and give you immediate energy. Protein has amino acids that help you build muscle and are essential for your skin, blood and brain. Fats are crucial for brain development, cell function and protecting your organs. Below is a breakdown of each macro.
Amino acids are essential for building muscle and assisting in other functions involving the brain, nervous system, skin and hair. Protein intake provides your body with the nine amino acids it cannot make on its own.
There are two different types of protein, complete and incomplete. Complete proteins provide all of the amino acids your body needs. These look like meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, milk and edamame. Incomplete proteins provide some of the amino acids you need and are typically plant-based.
Carbs convert to energy immediately, making them the preferred energy source. It is easy for your body to turn carbs into energy than protein or fat. The body breaks carbs down into glucose and uses it for energy or stores it for later.
Carbs come in two forms, either complex or simple carbs. Complex carbohydrates have long strings of sugar units which takes longer for the body to break down and use. They have a steady increase in your blood glucose levels. Simple carbs are made of only one or two sugar units and get broken down quickly. Sometimes, they spike your blood sugar levels and then drop them if eaten in isolation. The USDA suggests 45% to 65% of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates.
When people think of fat, it usually is not in a good way. You may even try to avoid it in your diet altogether. Dietary fat plays an important role in the body, especially in a calorie deficit. Fat has double the number of calories as protein or carbs, but that does not mean they are not important and should be consumed in moderation at 20% to 35% of total daily calories.
There are two types of fats, saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats come from meat and dairy and are solid at room temperature. Saturated fats can be harmful to your cardiovascular health if overconsumed. Unsaturated fats come from plants or foods like eggs, dairy, fish and animal products. These provide many health benefits and can decrease the risk of certain diseases that saturated fats contribute to.
Your body needs macronutrients to keep your body running smoothly. Fueling it with the right foods is the best way to live a healthy life.