Macronutrients (also called “Macros”) are a group of nutritional compounds that need to be consumed in large amounts. These macros supply us with energy as well as perform specific roles and functions within your body, brain and other systems. There are three types of macronutrients that human’s need: protein, fat and carbohydrates.
Proteins are large, complex molecules that are primarily associated with supporting the structure, function and regulation of your body’s organs, tissues and cells. Protein is best known for their help in repairing muscle tissue and maintaining lean body mass, but they also support various functions like stimulating hormone release, facilitating nutrient absorption, supporting your immune system and even helping manage your mood and sleep. Proteins are made up of long chemical chains called amino acids, which form the building blocks for all sorts of biological structures. Each gram of protein provides you with 4 calories of energy and they are the most satiating macro of the three (meaning they help you stay fuller for longer). Proteins are typically found in foods like meat, fish, dairy, beans and legumes.
Fats support a number of activities in the body, such as helping to absorb essential nutrients, transporting nutrients around the body and maintaining proper immune system functions. They also contain chemical compounds that are needed for brain tissue, nerve fibers, hormonal control and lean tissue acquisition. Fats provide an excellent, slow-burning energy source to support low-intensity activity and are the primary method that your body uses to store energy. Each gram of fat provides you with 9 calories of energy and because of their high energy density, eating foods that contain fat should help you feel full much quicker than low-fat or fat-free options.
You shouldn’t be afraid of fats. Eating the right quantities of fat will not directly make you “fat”, it is only if you eat excessive amounts of them that you will experience weight gain. Fats also have different profiles and so if you are eating too much of the wrong type of fat this can lead to an increased risk of stroke, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and abnormal cholesterol levels. You should be aiming to eat high quality fats like those found in avocados, coconut, nuts, seeds and oils.
Finally, carbohydrates (aka ‘carbs’) are the sugars, starches and fibers that are found primarily in fruits, vegetables, grains and cereals. Carbs are your main source of energy but also support intestinal health, sustain your central nervous system and help with brain functioning, mood and memory. Not all carbs are created equal! Similar to fats, there are “bad” quality carbs that are absorbed into the bloodstream at a quicker rate than “good” quality carbs and can cause blood sugar dysregulation and hormonal dysfunction. Each gram of carb provides us with 4 calories of energy.