Macronutrients Explained:An Introductory Approach

When dealing with these dieting or nutrition concepts, one question often arises: what are macronutrients?

Well, we could state the simple answer that these are nutrients that our bodies need in greater amounts.We could say that macronutrients provide the raw materials that are necessary and essential for the growth and development of living organisms.

In fitness terms, Macronutrients are referred to as Macros.These key elements are always required in the majority of diet plans or weight loss programs since their smart distribution during any particular diet is the mainstay of losing weight, build muscle or maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
All foods have different amounts of macronutrients, hence classifying foods more or less, may not be one of the best options. Instead, we should seek a balance of them.

Categories  of Macronutrients

As a rule, macronutrients are divided into three main categories:

Proteins

Proteins are responsible for building muscle, maintenance, and repair, also, they play a vital role in the production of hormones and enzymes and help keep the immune system in perfect condition. Among other essential functions regarding life in general.Amino acids are the main components of protein they are the “building blocks” that make up proteins.

There are 20 types of amino acids. 9 of these can not be synthesized by the body. These are the so-called  essential amino acids . These amino acids should be added to the diet and should be consumed evenly throughout the day and be part of every meal.

The body takes longer to synthesize proteins as they are complex molecules. As a result, they are a source of slower but more lasting energy than carbohydrates.

As a rule, protein does not play a primary role in energy production since it is glucose the main source of immediate energy used by the body, and in the case of fat, this is used during exercise or activities that alternate between low and moderate intensity.

Protein may contribute only about 5 to 10% of body energy, but this may increase under certain circumstances.

When high-intensity exercises are performed, glycogen stores are at a minimum, and in these cases, protein can contribute up to 15% of the energy intake.

The body will use them wisely if it is not getting enough calories from the other nutrients, i.e., from carbohydrates or fat stored in the body.1 gram of protein provides four calories just like carbohydrates.

Protein and Athletic Performance

The most important role related to protein intake has to do with the maintenance of muscle mass, and more specifically with the processes of recovery and increase of muscle mass after moderate/intense or prolonged physical exercise.

Research on the effects of high protein intake on exercise and its effect on performance is still limited, but there is some evidence suggesting an improvement in glycogen synthesis prior to exercise and metabolic benefits during physical activity.

An example of foods that contain protein: meats, poultry, dairy products, fish and some vegetables such as walnuts and seeds.

For people who do not consume meat, there are high protein choices such as tofu and soy products.

macronutrients

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates provide energy during high-intensity exercise.They preserve muscle mass by saving protein and stimulate the central nervous system.Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy used by the brain.

In sedentary individuals, 40 to 50% of the total daily caloric intake should come from carbs.Despite increasing insulin levels and reducing fat oxidation, it has been shown that carbohydrate intake before and after exercise improves athletic performance.These metabolic effects can be mitigated by consuming carbohydrates with a low glycemic index or modified starches.

For those who exercise regularly, carbohydrate consumption should be 60% of the total calories consumed daily.Those individuals or athletes who perform intense training should get 70% of the total daily calorie intake from carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are complex or simple

Simple Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates vary in form such as  glucose and sucrose  (table sugar). Simple carbohydrates are synthesized and absorbed quickly and are a very fast source of energy. They rapidly increase blood sugar level.Among the main sources of simple carbohydrates, we have fruits, honey, and dairy products, they all contain significant amounts of simple carbs.

It should be noted that in the case of fruits their fructose content is much lower compared to added sugars.Fruits contain natural sugars that are processed more efficiently by the body and have a high dietary fiber content.

Macronutrients explained

Complex carbohydrates.

Complex carbohydrates are made up of long chains of simple carbs. Because complex carbohydrates are molecules larger than simple carbs these must be converted to simple sugars before being absorbed.
Complex carbohydrates release energy more slowly than simple carbohydrates, and this makes them less likely to be converted to fat. They also raise blood sugar levels but at a slower rate and to lower levels but the energy effect is more prolonged.

Refined Carbohydrates

Refined carbohydrates are foods of plant origin to which the whole grain has been extracted during processing.This process includes the removal of fiber and most of the nutritional value found in most of these foods.

At present many food companies enrich their products with some of the nutrients that were previously extracted during the refinement process but this is not always the case.

The USDA recommends obtaining only half of the required 6 ounces of grains from refined products because of their low nutritional value.

Carbs and Fiber

Most dietary fiber is composed of nondigestible carbohydrates. Although they do not provide energy, dietary fiber is essential because of its effects on intestinal health and its consequences throughout the body, such as a lower risk of obesity or an improvement in cholesterol levels and general lipid profile.

Fat

Approximately 34-40% of the calories in the typical American diet comes from fats.There are three types of fats: Saturated Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated which are found in many foods in different proportions

Despite the impact they have, saturated fats are not the only factor that affects obesity, and it’s actually a lot more complicated than that. At the end of the day, it all comes down to one simple formula, consuming more calories than you burn leads to weight gain.

Even so, dietary fat plays a major role in obesity. With a contribution of 9 calories per gram fat is the main supplier of calories to the human body.

Fats fulfill many functions in the human body including maintaining body temperature and as a protector of body organs.They also serve as carriers of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). They promote growth and development as well as the maintenance of the cell membrane.
There is the false belief that fats represent something negative for health. The truth is that fats are necessary to maintain overall health. The average diet should consist of 20% fat.
Some scientific research suggests that High-fat meals from healthy fat sources seem to have a beneficial metabolic effect as they increase the oxidation of fats and possibly save muscle glycogen. Yet not necessarily these effects will result in an increase in athletic performance. 

Trans Fats

Macronutrients Explained:An Introductory Approach

They are created as a result of the hydrogenation of vegetable oils creating a semi-solid. It is the most harmful fat of the human body.We all know that processed food and pre-made dishes are practical but not ideal. They come loaded with colors and artificial flavors as well as preservatives that destroy the quality of food.

Water

Although not included among the three categories we can not fail to include water as an essential macronutrient.Water is a large part of our body weight and is the main component of body fluids. The body needs it more in quantity than any other nutrient.
The body replenishes water through the food we consume and the liquids we drink every day. Water also works as a carrier of nutrients to cells and removes waste through the urine. It is also a principal agent in regulating body temperature and ionic blood balance. Water is essential for proper metabolic functioning and lubrication.It Protects the organs and tissues and helps prevent constipation.
 
We can conclude that knowing the composition of the foods we consume daily, the relevance of understanding how each of the macronutrients that make up the products can act in our body to keep it always healthy.It is important to consider all these things when it comes to dieting. Knowing what we eat and how it affects our bodies is essential to keep us healthy and avoid unnecessary risks to our health.