People these days are talking about low-carb, high-protein diets or low-carb, high-fat diet. Before listening to others, it is very important to have a basic knowledge of the food components that you are consuming daily and their benefits to eating.
In this post, you’ll learn…
The 3 major macronutrients
Their importance in a daily diet
The right amount of the 3 to be consumed
The sources where you can find them.
Macronutrients are the largest class of nutrients the body requires and include carbohydrates, protein, and fats. If you’ve heard anyone talking about “macros,” they’re referring to these major nutrients. The amounts and ratio of macronutrients a person needs every day to vary by age, lifestyle (sedentary, active, or very active), gender, health status, and health goals.
Carbohydrate is the body’s foremost source of energy. It is considered as the fuel to power our body. Each gram of carbohydrate yields 4 kcal of energy. They also play an important role in muscle protection. When the body is running low on carbohydrates it will turn to its fat stores to produce energy. Glucose that is formed from the digestion of carbohydrates is the only substrate used by the brain for its functioning. So, a depletion of carbohydrates in the diet will make one feel dizzy, light headed and forgetful to eat. Carbohydrates are split into two major groups:
Simple carbohydrates, usually referred to as sugars, are naturally present in fruit, milk and other unprocessed foods. Plant carbohydrates can be refined into table sugar and syrups, which are then added to foods such as sodas, desserts, sweetened yogurts and more. Simple carbohydrates may be single sugar molecules called monosaccharides or two monosaccharides joined together called disaccharides. Glucose, a monosaccharide, is the most abundant sugar molecule and is the preferred energy source for the brain. Fructose is another common monosaccharide. Two common disaccharides in food are sucrose, common table sugar, and lactose, the source of frequent gas and bloating that some experience from drinking milk. Simple carbohydrates are low in nutritional value (contain empty calories) and cause insulin levels to fluctuate wildly, inhibiting activity in glycogen storage and glycogen synthesis. Excess amounts of such simple carbs are converted into fat.
Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are considered as good carbs since they take longer to absorb and digest and keep blood and insulin levels stable thus enhancing glycogen synthesis activity and increased glycogen storage. It contains polysaccharides which are composed in many glucose units. They are often referred to as starches which are found in vegetables, fruits, and grains.
Protein is of the utmost importance to any diet as it is used to build and repair muscle tissue. Athletes need more protein their diets then regular people because they break down muscle tissue at a faster rate due to their intense workouts. If a person gets an inadequate amount of protein from his diet it may lead to the loss of muscle tissue.
Proteins also play a large role in immune functions- antibodies are proteins. Proteins are also responsible for blood clotting, hormone and enzyme production, vision, the production of connective tissues. It also provides us with useful energy that helps us burn calories and promote weight loss. Just like carbs, 1 gram of protein gives 4 Kcal of energy. The daily requirement of protein shall be 30-40% of the total caloric intake or 1.0-1.8 gms per kilo of body weight per day.
Essential amino acids(AA’s) are building blocks of proteins. There are 20 different types of AAs. The body can synthesize 11 from what we eat but the remaining 9 must be supplied through the diet. 11 of these AA’s are called non-essential and the remaining 9 are termed as essential AA’s.
All 9 AA’s must be present in the body for protein synthesis to occur.
Complete and incomplete protein:
Foods that contain all the 9 essential amino acids are called complete protein food sources.
They support body growth and maintenance. Few complete protein sources are animal proteins like beef, chicken, turkey, eggs, etc, milk, cheese, and yogurt.
Foods that do not contain all the 9 essential proteins are called incomplete protein food sources.
They cannot support body growth (although some may support body growth)
Major sources are plant proteins like legumes, soybeans, tofu, nut seeds, vegetables, etc.
Fats are important for physiological functions. They can be essential or stored fat. Essential fats are stored in the bone marrow, heart, spine, kidneys, liver and nervous system. These organs cannot function correctly without a certain amount of essential fat. The fat that is found in adipose tissue under the skin or around the internal organs (for protection) is called stored fat.
So, when someone says that they need to lose fat then this is the kind of fat they are talking about.
Fat provides us with energy for long period exercise, but exercise intensity has to be lower for oxygen present to burn it. It is also an essential source of energy for reproduction, growth and increased demands of physical activity.
Fat is the most calorie dense macronutrient out of all. For every gram of fat consumed 9 Kcal of energy is yielded. Thus, the body finds it the most difficult nutrient to use as energy and it will be kept as the last resort for energy requirements.
These are the evil fats that clog arteries causing a number of health problems such as obesity, heart diseases, and cancer.
Saturated fats are usually from the animal origin with the exception of some tropical oils. They are usually found in foods such as red meats, eggs, dairy products, cakes, chocolates, pastries, pies, cheese, butter, cream, coconut oil, etc.
Such fats, however, creep into one’s daily diet if eaten in limited quantities are not that harmful.
Trans fat is processed by the food manufacturing process. They are processed to create a more stable and solid fat. This is done by a process called hydrogenation as hydrogen atoms are added to the unsaturated(liquid) fats. This is the fat that does the maximum harm.
Sources include chips, baked goods, biscuits and junk foods in general.
Unsaturated fats are better for one’s health. They promote “good cholesterol” and reduce the risk of illness. Unsaturated fats are predominately found in plant extracts with the exception of fish. The structure of unsaturated fats is generally more fluid and liquid at room temperature. Unsaturated fats can be further divided into polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats with the only difference of the single and double bond of the carbon atom respectively. They can be found in Olive oil, margarine, avocados, almonds, and other nuts.
Essential fatty acids
As opposed to the negative image of fats these fats are actually really good for one’s health and even promote the reduction of stored fat to an extent.
These are the fats that are to be obtained by diet or supplements as the body cannot synthesize it on its own. Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are the two types of essential fatty acids. These fatty acids form an essential component of our cell membranes including brain cells, nerve cells, and muscle cells. They regulate inflammation within the body’s system.
Omega-3 has positive effects on arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, and inflammatory disorders. These oils can be found and obtained from salmon, soybeans, canola and flaxseed oil.
Omega-6 has similar effects as Omega 3 and can be found in most vegetable oils and seed oils. Surprisingly most of the mayonnaise and salad dressings will have such oils.
Although fiber is not considered as a macronutrient still it plays a very vital role in overall nutrition. Dietary fiber refers to the indigestible carbohydrate component found in fruits, grains, nuts. Dietary fiber is not found in meat and dairy products. Functional fiber consists of non – digestible carbohydrates that have beneficial physiological effects. Total fiber is the sum of dietary fiber and functional fiber.
A good carbohydrate will always be high in fiber and low in simple carbs.
Fiber can be split into two groups, namely insoluble fiber, and soluble fiber. Both of them are not absorbed in the bloodstream and so are excreted from the body thus helping in bowel movement.
It is not soluble in water, helps to move bulk through the digestive system, helps intestines balance the Ph levels and promotes regular bowel movement.
They are found in whole wheat and grain bread, whole bran cereals, flax seeds and skin of fruits and vegetables that usually people tend to remove.
This is soluble in water, forms a gel when mixed with liquid, binds fatty acids and prolongs stomach emptying so that sugar is absorbed and released slowly. It also helps in lowering cholesterol levels and regulating blood sugar levels.
They are found in oats, apples, pears, peas, and barley.
So here is your complete guide of what? Why? & How much to eat?
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