Macronutrients are essential components the body needs for energy. There are 4 main types of macronutrients. But, only 3 of them are healthy for the body. Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are 3 of the healthy macronutrients needed by the body. The fourth one happens to be alcohol, but it’s not necessary to keep the body healthy.This article takes an in-depth look at these 3 types of macronutrients.
Nutrients are components found in food sources. They are essential for the growth, energy and overall functions of the body. The body needs these nutrients in varying amounts to stay healthy. The nutrients organisms need in bigger amounts are the macronutrients. The 3 main types of macronutrients give the body energy. This energy comes in the form of calories, and they vary depending on the type of nutrient:
- There are 4 calories in each gram of
- There are 9 calories in each gram of fats.
- There are 4 calories in each gram of
It’s important to know this information. Especially for people who like to count their caloric intake. The foods consumed daily contain these essential macronutrients. The body needs them for energy as well as for healthy growth and development.
This first type of macronutrient is important as it gives the brain and body energy. Without sufficient energy, the brain and body won’t function well. Although there are other sources of energy, the best source are carbohydrates. Fiber, starch, and sugar are the 3 kinds of carbohydrates. While fiber doesn’t provide much energy, starch and sugar are excellent sources. Here’s more information about these 3 kinds of carbohydrates:
Fiber. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate which is essential in digestive processes. There are 2 kinds of fiber namely, soluble and insoluble. The difference between these 2 kinds is the former can be broken down with water while the latter cannot. Both these kinds of fiber are essential in one’s diet. However, fewer kinds of foods contain insoluble fiber.
Many kinds of foods have soluble fiber. These include cereals, cakes, cookies, pastries, and other foods which are processed heavily. Healthier foods contain insoluble fiber. These include rice, carrots, chickpeas, and even whole meal bread.
The body needs more insoluble fiber. The reason for this is that insoluble fiber helps in digestive properties. It also aids in removing toxins from the body’s digestive system. When a body is low in this kind of fiber, it causes a variety of digestive problems. A person who doesn’t get enough insoluble fiber may experience hemorrhoids, constipation, and even a higher risk of cancer of the different organs.
Starch. This kind of carbohydrate is harder for the body to break down. This is because starch is a more complex version of sugar. The body digests starch at a slower rate because of its complexity.
Fruits have little amounts of starch in them while vegetables contain more. Legumes and grains, on the other hand, contain the most amount of starch in them.
Sugar. This kind of carbohydrate is the easiest to break down by the body. Also, it goes into the body’s bloodstream rapidly. But, there are different kinds of sugars. These sugars go into the bloodstream at different speeds. Sugars are classified as monosaccharides, disaccharides, oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides. They all differ in complexity.
Carbohydrates should be the majority of a person’s daily caloric intake.It’s recommended to consume complex carbohydrates as they are healthier. They are beneficial to the intestines, and they help reduce the levels of cholesterol. Here are some of the best and healthiest sources to include in the daily diet. This list also contains the calorie percentage from the carbohydrates:
- raw bananas give 93%
- raw tomatoes give 70%
- cooked broccoli gives 73%
- cooked lentils give 70%
- cooked chickpeas give 68%
- raw spinach gives 56%
- skim milk gives 53%
- avocadoes give 19%
- walnuts give 9%
- hard-boiled eggs give 3%
The body stores carbohydrates in 2 ways. First, the body can store this as glycogen. Glycogen stores found in the liver give the body energy when performing physical activities. Whenever a person eats a meal which is rich in carbohydrates, the stores get restocked. Second, the body can also store carbohydrates in skeletal muscles.
This second macronutrient contains the biggest number of calories at a whopping 9 calories in each gram. The body needs fat too because it absorbs different micronutrients which are fat-soluble. These micronutrients are carotenoids and different vitamins. Fats are also essential in preserving cell membranes. They aid in the healthy growth of cells. Fats stored in the body help keep it warm. It also supplies energy to the body when food is not enough.
Fats function by helping the body grow and mature. Therefore fats are more important in kids and teenagers since they are still growing. Also, women who are pregnant need slightly more fats than other adults. The recommended daily intake of fats is about 10% of the caloric intake.
Many foods contain fats, but only some of them are healthy. It’s important to regulate fat intake because too much of it in the body is detrimental to the health. Here are some healthy sources of fat to consider. This list also contains the calorie percentage from the fats:
- walnuts give 83%
- brie cheese gives 73%
- avocadoes 70%
- hard-boiled eggs give 62%
- cooked turkey gives 50%
- raw spinach gives 14%
- cooked chickpeas give 13%
- cooked broccoli gives 10%
- raw tomatoes give 9%
- skim milk gives 5%
- raw bananas or cooked lentils give 3%
Fat is the flavor source for a lot of different dishes. They are either solid or liquid in form. Fatty acids, on the other hand, fall into 3 different categories. These are polyunsaturated, omega-6, and omega-3.
Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are the “healthy” fats. That’s why a lot of people include them in their diets, especially when they want to keep healthy. Some kinds of fish, oils, and nuts contain good amounts of these fatty acids.
The body also needs unsaturated fats. These are essential in controlling metabolism. They are also key in maintaining the flexibility of the membranes of the cells. They are important for the growth and development of cells. They are important for cell growth and regeneration. Finally, these fats also boost the flow of blood.
The body also needs some amount of cholesterol. It’s essential in the production of hormones. It’s important to note, though, that the body doesn’t need much of this. Too much cholesterol can lead to a variety of cardiovascular issues. So, when it comes to fats, make sure to consume them in moderation. And when possible, go for the “healthy” kind of fats.
The last healthy macronutrient is protein. Each gram of protein holds 4 calories. The body needs protein for it to grow. That’s why it’s especially important for kids, teens, and women who are pregnant to consume the right amount of protein each day. Protein helps strengthen the immune system, and it also helps repair damaged tissues. Aside from this, it helps boost the production of vital enzymes and hormones. Protein serves as the body’s last source of fuel.
This macronutrient consists of different amino acids. There are about a hundred types of amino acids, but only a few of them are active in the body, 21, to be exact. The human body can create about half of these amino acids. Adults must put away 8 of the essential amino acids which children have to consume at least 9. This is because they are still developing so they need it more.
The 8 amino acids adults must consume are the “essential amino acids.” In the body, these essential amino acids are broken down to create simpler forms. Then, these simpler forms produce the rest of the amino acids which people don’t normally obtain from their diets. A lot of substances can be created by using these essential amino acids.
There are 2 kinds of proteins – complete and incomplete. A complete protein is any food which carries all the 8 essential amino acids. A good example of a complete protein is meat. Incomplete proteins, on the other hand, lack or contain a lesser amount of the essential amino acids. A lot of plants are usually considered as incomplete proteins. However, not all plants can be classified as such. There are certain kinds which do contain all the essential amino acids, making them complete proteins.
It’s recommended that 10-20% of the daily caloric intake should come from proteins. But this depends on a person’s lifestyle. People who lead active lifestyles may need more than just 10-20%. The recommended levels of protein also depend on the protein sources. It’s okay if a person consumes more protein if it comes from plant-based food sources rather than animal products. This is because proteins from plants and animals have different effects on the body. Too much animal protein increases the risk of diseases such as cancer.
A lot of foods contain protein, whether plant-based or animals. Finding the right balance between these foods is key. Each day, a person must consume the right amount of proteins with the essential amino acids to remain healthy. Here are some of the sources of protein. This list also contains the calorie percentage from the proteins:
- pan-broiled lean beef patties give 67%
- cooked turkey gives 50%
- skim milk gives 42%
- hard-boiled eggs give 35%
- spinach gives 30%
- brie cheese and cooked lentils give 27%
- cooked chickpeas give 19%
- cooked broccoli gives 17%
- raw tomatoes give 12%
- walnuts give 8%
- avocadoes and raw bananas give 4%
Proteins are important for the body to function well. Protein can work as an antibody, a hormone, and an enzyme. They are also part of the different structures in the body. These include the muscle fibers, tissues, skin, and hair. Most of the protein in the body is in the muscles. Protein which is storeddoesn’t serve as energy sources directly. Instead, they act as building blocks for body structures.
The amino acids in proteins can be classified as essential, semi-essential, and nonessential. Since the body cannot create all the essential amino acids, it’s vital to consume protein to make up for what’s lacking.
How Does the Body Use the Macronutrients?
The body uses these macronutrients in different ways. These macronutrients are very different from each other. So, their functions in the body vary widely too. First, let’s look at how the body makes use of carbohydrates:
- The body converts carbohydrates to glucose. This serves as the brain and body’s fuel source.
- The body stores carbohydrates in the liver and the muscles to be used when performing different physical activities.
- The body uses carbohydrates for the smooth operation of the brain, the muscles, the kidneys and the rest of the central nervous system.
- The body uses carbohydrates in controlling insulin production.
- The body uses fiber (which is a kind of carbohydrate) to regulate digestive processes and levels of cholesterol.
Now let’s look at how the body uses fats:
- The body uses fats for energy.
- The body uses fats to facilitate normal growth and the regulation of hormones.
- The body uses fats to maintain the cells and their membranes.
- The body uses fats to absorb vitamins which are fat-soluble.
- The body uses fats as a cushion for the vital organs.
And finally, let’s look at how the body uses proteins:
- The body uses proteins for muscle growth and muscle repair.
- The body uses proteins to produce the essential hormones and enzymes.
- The body uses proteins to strengthen the functions of the immune system.
- The body uses proteins to maintain muscle mass.
- The body uses proteins for energy when other sources are not available.
All these macronutrients are important in keeping the body healthy and functioning well. When the body doesn’t get enough of one or more of the macronutrients, some parts and functions of the body may suffer. That’s why it’s vital to keep a healthy and balanced diet.