What are Macronutrients?
By Sharon Irish
What are macronutrients or ‘macros’ and why does your body need them?
Read on to find out what the various types of macronutrients are and how they play a role in your weight loss.
After water, the most important part of your nutrition should be macronutrients.
You need to make sure that you are getting enough of them, but how do you do that if you don’t know what they are?
If you know anything about people in the fitness industry you may have heard them talking about their ‘macros’.
They are talking about macronutrients, ‘macro’ meaning ‘big’ and so the macronutrients are the main nutrients your body needs.
This is because they give you energy, plus you need them in larger amounts than any other nutrients.
Macronutrients are broken down into:
Proteins, Carbohydrates and Fats
People in the fitness industry know that they need to monitor their macronutrients in order to achieve their fitness goals and/or those of their clients and it is the same with you and me.
Whether you just want to lose weight, become fitter or get the body of a fitness model or bodybuilder, getting the correct amount of macronutrients is key to your success.
Which foods contain which Macronutrients?
I need to start by saying that most food does not contain only protein, carbohydrate or fat. Most foods have a combination of all three, but in differing amounts. So it is important to note that when a food comes under a particular label, it just means that food contains more of one macronutrient than the others.
Lets break them all down and discuss them in more detail:
What do you need Protein for?
It is important that before I list the foods, you know what each macronutrient’s function is in the body.
Protein is needed for the growth and repair of your tissues and cells. This is why people who are working out in the gym, bodybuilders and those who are strength training like to make sure they eat a lot of protein. It helps their muscles to grow bigger and repair themselves, helping them to achieve their fitness goals.
Each person will need a different amount of protein depending on their individual goals and their body type.
Protein can be found in high concentration in the following foods:
Protein is also present in other foods, only to a lesser extent than the examples above:
What do you need Carbohydrates for?
Carbohydrates give you your energy. They are broken down by the body into glucose which is the main fuel used by all of your bodily tissues.
Carbohydrates can be found in high concentration in the following foods:
It can be a little confusing when it comes to carbohydrates because they can be further broken down into two main types which are:
Simple Carbohydrates – also called ‘quick release’ carbohydrates
Complex Carbohydrates – also called ‘slow release’ carbohydrates
The simple carbohydrates are broken down by the body quickly so you can access the energy from them fast. Some examples are:
- White potatoes
- White bread
- White rice
- White pasta
- White sugar
The reason that refined foods such as white rice, bread, sugar and pasta are known as simple carbohydrates is that they have had their fibre taken away during the refining process and it is the fibre that slows down the absorption process in our bodies.
The complex carbohydrates are broken down more slowly and provide a longer lasting source of energy. Some examples are:
- Brown bread
- Wholewheat pasta
- Brown rice
- Root vegetables
- Green leafy
These foods tend to have more fibre in them naturally and have not been refined, so they take longer to be absorbed.
Yes! You need fat!
Fats provide your body with an energy reserve, they insulate your body and are vital for your brain, fat being a huge part of it’s structure. Fats also protect your organs by forming a protective layer around them.
Many people think all fat is bad but this is not the case! You really need it to survive and there are many sources of good fat concentrated foods. Some examples are:
- Fruits and vegetables (avocado in particular)
- Oily fish
Why do we need fibre?
Fibre comes under the complex carbohydrate banner but I wanted to go into a little bit more detail about it as it is so important, especially if you are trying to lose weight.
Fibre keeps your digestive system healthy and keeps it working smoothly.
There are two types of fibre:
This is found in wheat bran, seeds of fruit and vegetables, nuts, dried beans, whole wheat and wholegrain foods to name a few. It does not get digested by the body and so helps your digestive system move things along so that your food is passed through your body cleanly and prevents constipation.
This is found in oats, fruit, vegetables, barley, beans, seed husks, linseed, and many others. The parts of these foods which are digested are so good for you because they help to lower cholesterol, keeping your heart healthy. They also keep you feeling fuller for longer which aids with weight loss.
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So as you can tell, there is a lot to macronutrients and they can be found in a lot of foods. There is however more to nutrition as we also need ‘micronutrients’ and I explain what they are and where we can find them in my next post, which you can go to below. If you missed my last post on the basics of nutrition, there is also a link below to that one:
I hope this post was informative and it helped you to become more confident with weight loss and fitness. Let me know in the comments section if there is anything you would like more information about and I will add it to the posts as soon as I can.
Thanks for reading and I will see you next time!
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