What are macronutrients?

October 27, 2016 Mona No comments exist

macronutrients

If you’re on Instagram or YouTube a lot, you probably heard people talking about macros or counting macros. So what are ‘macros’ and why are they so important? Macros are short for macronutrients. There are 3 types of macros (carbohydratesproteins and fats) and they are found in all the food we eat. Our bodies need all 3 to function properly. We need about 50-55% carbs, 15-20% protein and not more than 30% fat (out of a daily calorie intake).

 

CARBOHYDRATES

A carbohydrate is a biological molecule consisting of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Smallest carbohydrates are called simple carbohydrates. They are also known as sugars and they fall into two categories: monosaccharides (glucose, fructose) and disaccharides (sucrose and lactose).

 

Sugars appear in a natural way (e.g. in fruit and vegetables) and they come in refined form (e.g. chocolate, candysoft drinkshoney, jams, refined sugarand desserts). When these little molecules connect into long chains they form complex carbs. This is the food that is particularly rich in the complex carbohydrate starch (such as cereal, bread and pasta). Once these complex carbs are in your organism, the enzymes will degrade them into glucose.

 

Glucose is a simple sugar that your body absorbs. Glucose is stored as a polymer, in plants as starch and in animals as glycogen, for times when the organism will need it. All carbohydrates (simple and complex) must degrade and transform into glucose before the organism absorbs them and uses them as energy. Complex carbs are polysaccharides and they enable slower release of glucose into bloodstream than simple carbs. In their natural form they contribute good health and good appetite control.  

 

Main Source Of Energy

Carbohydrates are our main source of energy (1g = 4kcal), so choose them wisely. Simple carbs will bump up your energy levels, but only for a very short time and you’re more likely to feel tired afterwards. They are also called empty calories since they don’t deliver any nutritional value (no phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals nor fiber). Instead, when you crave something sweet, reach for some fruit a.k.a nature’s candy. Fruit is full of vitamins, minerals and fiber and all the good things our bodies need.

 

Here are some complex carbs you should include in your diet: whole grain bread, whole grain cereal (Weetabix is a good option), whole grain pastacouscous, amaranth, quinoa, oats, apples, sweet potato, beans, peas, artichokes, oranges, etc.

 

PROTEIN

Why is protein so important? Firstly, protein isn’t just the food. Your bones, organs, muscles, hair, nails, teeth, skin are made of protein. There are different types of protein. Enzymes are proteins that help speed up chemical reactions. Each enzyme does a different and a specific function in our organism. Antibodies are proteins which help fight diseases. They are found in red blood cells. Haemoglobin – protein that transports oxygen throughout our body. Hormones – proteins that give directions to enzyme, like normalising blood sugar levels. Building proteins – proteins that help build and repair damaged tissue.

 

Proteins are macromolecules made of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen formed into long chains of amino acid residues.  There are 20 different amino acids. Most microorganisms and plants can biosynthesize all 20 standard amino acids, while animals (including humans) must obtain some of the amino acids from the diet. The amino acids that an organism cannot synthesize on its own are referred to as essential amino acids.

 

animal-based-proteiin

 

plant-based-protein

 

FATS

Before we go on about different types of fat in the food, here are some good sides/benefits of eating fats:

 

– Fats are a ready source of energy

– Children need fats for growth

– Fats help your body absorb, transport and store fat-soluble vitamins (A,D, E and K)

– They are a source of essential fatty acids

– They help maintain healthy skin and hair

– Fats surround our internal organs which protects and supports them

 

Here are described types of fats:

 

Triglycerides (TG)

Is the general term for fats found in the food. TG is an ester derived from glycerol and three fatty acids. There are many different types of triglyceride, with the main division being between saturated and unsaturated types.

 

Unsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated fats

These fats are fatty acids that have one double bond in the fatty acid chain (c=c) with all of the remainder carbon atoms being single-bonded. Olive oilpeanut oilsesame and avocado oil contain high amount of monounsaturated fats. By the research, these fatty acids help lower blood cholesterol levels. Nevertheless, be careful with consumption of these if you have problems with your weight! A gram of fat = 9 kcal.

 

Polyunsaturated fats

Second type of unsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats are lipids (a group of naturally occurring molecules) in which the hydrocarbon chain possesses two or more carbon-carbon double bonds        (-c=c-c=c-). They can be mostly found in nutsseedsfishalgaeleafy greens and krill. Fats found in fish are more commonly referred to as omega-3 fatty acids. For a long time omega-3 fatty acids were considered to be helpful in preventing heart and cancer diseases, but studies have failed to prove this. However, these fatty acids are important for normal metabolism.

 

Trans fat

Or trans-unsaturated fatty acids, trans fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fats that are not common in nature but they are commonly produced industrially from vegetable fats for use in snack foodmargarinefried fast food and packaged baked goods. Trans fat is made through process of hydrogenation. It is a process in which a liquid or semi-liquid fat is transformed into a significantly tougher form. Hydrogenation helps prolong the duration of a product and enables food companies to change the texture of a product. Consumption of trans fats has shown to increase the risk of coronary heart disease in parts by raising levels of LDL (also known as “bad cholesterol”), lowering levels of HDL (“good cholesterol”), increasing triglycerides in the bloodstream and promoting systemic inflammation.

 

Saturated fats

This fat is made of monoglyceride and fatty acids. They are formed in long chains of carbon atoms. Saturated fat is fat where all the fatty acids have single bonds (-c-c-c-). Foods with high proportion of saturated fats include animal fat products (cheese, cream, butter, other whole milk dairy products and fatty meats). They also contain dietary cholesterol. Certain vegetable products, such as palm kernel oil and coconut oil, have high saturated fat content. Ready foods like pizzasausagedairy desserts are also high in saturated fat. The effect of saturated fat on risk of disease is controversial. It has been commonly believed that high consumption of saturated fats raises blood cholesterol levels (leading to heart diseases), increases chances of cancer and leads to blood vessels diseases. However, other reviews have rejected those arguments.

 

DISCLAIMER: All information provided is of a general nature and is furnished for educational purposes only and may not be constructed as medical advice.

 

M, xo

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