Macronutrients – What are They and Why are They Important?
Macronutrient or in the fitness world “macros” is the break down of foods and what calories are made up of; fats (lipids), carbohydrates, proteins and water. Every day, the body needs nutrients for energy, growth and performance those nutrients are found in our food both from macro and micronutrients.
Macronutrients are nutrients that are required daily in large amounts; measured in ounces and grams. Macros supply the body with energy and serve the as building blocks for growth and repair.
Let’s break down the three categories to better understand their purpose and best time to consume them.
These are the sugars, starches and fibers found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products. This is the main source of energy for the body. Carbs provide fuel for the central nervous system and energy for working muscles. They also help prevent protein from being used as an energy source and enable fat metabolism. Brain function, memory and mood are also effected by the intake of carbohydrates.
There are two classifications of carbs: Simple and Complex
- Simple carbs are digested quickly and are found in foods like fruit and some dairy products. These are good to take in right after your workout paired with a complex carb and protein.
- Complex carbs are those that break down more slowly in the body and give more sustained energy. Sources include starches, beans, potatoes, oats and whole wheat products. Ingesting a complex carb before a workout is one of the best times because it will fuel the body for the workout without a spike in the blood sugar.
The primary function fat is an energy reserve; the body stores fat or adipose tissue as a result of excess calorie consumption. During exercise the body first uses calories from carbohydrates for energy, then the body uses calories from stored fat to keep going. Fats are also useful because they allow the body to absorb key vitamins A,E,D and K. Fats also serve to keep hair and skin healthy.
Choosing proper fats is key; there are many types: saturated fats, trans fats, triglycerides, monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fats, and omega 3 & 6 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids have the most health benefits where as trans fats have the least and should be avoided in large quantities due to their link with heart disease. Your fat consumption should be proportional to your weight and dietary lifestyle.
Protein ins the macronutrient that is essential to building muscle mass, and can be found in a variety of sources. Animal products, nuts, legumes and protein supplements are a few of the sources that contain protein. Protein is composed of amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscle mass. When protein is broken down in the body, it helps to fuel/build muscle ass. Protein also aids in keeping the immune system strong. When ingested, protein also helps the body to feel full.
When looking at your next plate keep in mind that all macronutrient should be present. Meal timing and fueling with the correct source is important. Be sure to check out our next blog to learn more about when to eat what for the best results. Also if you’re interested in learning how much you should be consuming for your goals contact Amanda via email for a nutrition consultation.