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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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.