Learn about Macronutrients
Nutrition & Food
Macronutrients are categories of food nutrients necessary for life. These categories of nutrients are protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Macronutrients give us energy in the form of calories from foods. Carbohydrates and protein provide roughly 4 calories per gram. Fat provides about 9 calories per gram. Water does not contain calories or macronutrients but is essential for life. Other food substances provide calories but are not necessary for human life. For example, alcohol provides calories (roughly 7 calories per gram) but isn’t required to keep us alive. When considering macronutrient profiles remember that foods contain other nutrients as well. As you navigate to each page in the Table of Contents section to the left you will learn about additional characteristics of foods, their values, and content.
Lets define macronutrients by type:
- Carbohydrates: organic compounds in the forms of sugars, starch, and cellulose. Common natural carbohydrates (by no means in its entirety) are found in innumerable plants and vegetables. The healthiest kinds of natural carbohydrates have fiber in them. Simple sugar doesn’t contain fiber and is a carbohydrate found in almost all man-made foods.
- Protein: organic compounds, complex polymers of amino acids involved in every aspect of physiology and biochemistry of everything living. Common natural proteins are found in plant and animal forms. Examples include vegetables like kale and avocados, including legumes like soybeans and lentils, nuts, seeds, dairy products, chicken and poultry, seafood and fish, and meats.
- Fat: organic compound or a plant or animal that doesn’t dissolve in water. Common sources of fats are found in plants and animal products. Some fats are good for you in the proper proportion like the fat found in avocado, and some fats in excessive portions can cause you harm, like the fat found in eggs, steak, bacon, and other animal proteins.
Carbohydrates serve our bodies as a primary fuel source. They are necessary for human life and support vital organs and central nervous system functions. Carbohydrates can be stored as glucose in the bloodstream and liver for immediate availability as energy and glycogen in the muscles to be later used as energy for doing things. Related to muscles, protein is constructed on the building blocks called amino acids. Protein is responsible for helping us grow, repair tissues, building a strong immune system, and account for 75% of our body weight. Protein is not stored in our body like carbohydrates, so it is vital to survival that we consume high-quality plant and animal proteins regularly. And, lastly, fats; fat aids in providing energy for our body, helps us grow and develop naturally, provides protection for our organs, and helps us absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fat in saturated, unsaturated, and trans fat forms all play a different role in human nutrition. Saturated fats and trans fats consumed regularly can be harmful to you and have been shown to increase your risk for certain diseases like heart disease, certain cancers, and obesity. Unsaturated fats also provide energy in calorie form but are classified as better fats because when consumed as a part of a well-balanced diet in proper portions they decrease our risk for heart disease.
Please follow the next page prompts to learn more about basic nutrition, glycemic index of carbohydrates, and super-foods.
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