As a fitness pro who's helped many achieve their fitness goals through nutrition and movement, I believe it's important to understand the macronutrients that make up our diet. Macronutrients are the nutrients our bodies need in larger quantities to function properly. There are three main macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. In this article, I will dive into each macronutrient, their role in the body, and provide some examples and preconceived notions that should be debunked.
Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for our bodies. They are found in foods such as grains, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. There are two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are found in foods like sugar, honey, and fruit juice, while complex carbohydrates are found in foods like whole grains, vegetables, and legumes. Complex carbohydrates are preferred because they contain fiber, which slows down the absorption of carbohydrates and helps to keep us feeling fuller for longer periods.
Preconceived Notions: One of the most common misconceptions about carbohydrates is that they are bad for us and lead to weight gain. However, this is not true. In fact, carbohydrates are essential for our bodies to function properly. The key is to choose complex carbohydrates and to be mindful of portion sizes.
Proteins: Proteins are essential for building and repairing tissues in the body, including muscles, organs, and bones. They are made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Foods that are high in protein include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Preconceived Notions: One common misconception about protein is that we need a lot of it to be healthy. While protein is essential for our bodies, we don't need as much as many people believe. The recommended daily intake of protein is about 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. Consuming too much protein can actually be harmful to our bodies, as it can put a strain on our kidneys.
Fats: Fats are essential for many bodily functions, including hormone production, cell growth, and energy storage. There are three types of fats: saturated, unsaturated, and trans fats. Saturated fats are found in animal products, such as meat and dairy, while unsaturated fats are found in plant-based foods, such as nuts, seeds, and avocados. Trans fats are found in processed foods and should be avoided.
Preconceived Notions: One common misconception about fats is that they are bad for us and should be avoided. However, this is not true. Fats are essential for our bodies to function properly. The key is to choose healthy fats, such as unsaturated fats, and to be mindful of portion sizes.
Keep in mind that it's important to choose the right types of macronutrients and to be mindful of portion sizes to maintain a balanced and healthy diet.
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Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (2017). Macronutrients: the importance of carbohydrate, protein, and fat. https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/macronutrients/the-importance-of-carbohydrate-protein-and-fat
Harvard Health Publishing. (2021). The truth about fats: the good, the bad, and the in-between. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good
Mayo Clinic. (2021). Nutrition and Healthy Eating. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fat/art-20045550
National Institutes of Health. (2021). Protein. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Protein-HealthProfessional/
National Institutes of Health. (2021). Carbohydrates. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Carbohydrates-Consumer/
U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2020). Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025. https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf