What are Macro Nutrients? And why are they so important?

You’ve probably heard the term ‘macro-nutrient’ before. Whether in the health, nutrition or Fitness business, and even just in everyday life, this word is creeping into people’s inboxes and magazines. The fact of the matter is that Macro- Nutrients, or ‘macros’ as more commonly referred to, are a massively important part of everybody’s life. They are key to human survival. So what are they, and why are they so important?

There are 3 macros. Protein, fat, and carbohydrates. They all perform essential roles in the human body. Macronutrients are the main components of our diet. Our bodies do require others nutrients as well as macros, like vitamins and minerals, however, these nutrients are not needed in the vast quantities that macros are, and are therefore referred to as micronutrients. The 3 types of macro and vital in everybody’s diet to be able to perform and function efficiently and effectively.

1. Protein

Protein should consist of about 15 to 35 percent of your everyday diet. They contain amino acids. These are the building blocks of protein and are linked together in complex formations. In total there 20 different amino acids. You have probably heard of the term ‘essential amino acids’ before too. There are 9 of these and these are the amino’s that the human body cannot produce, and needs to consume through our diet. Proteins that contain all 20 amino acids are called complete proteins. These are found in animal products such as meat, eggs and milk.

Protein plays crucial roles throughout the human body. A key one is maintaining and repairing body tissue. This is even more crucial for a person with an active lifestyle whose muscles constantly need repair. Protein also has other roles in the body. All enzymes and hormones, which also perform vital functions and processes, are proteins. Finally, protein helps to boost the immune system.

2. Fat

Fat has a terrible reputation. People see the word and it instantly triggers a negative response by the brain. The fact of the matter is, fat is essential for maintaining a healthy, fit body. The key is to eat more ‘good’ fats than ‘bad’ fats (obviously). The human diet should consist of roughly 20% fat. Saturated and trans fats should be avoided while increases levels of unsaturated and the essential fatty acids, such as omega 3 and omega 6, can be good for you. By replacing sweets, high fat and processed foods with healthy sources of fats such as nuts, avocados, olives and olive oil will tip the balance of fats in the direction of fats that are actually good for the body.

The role of fat in the body is epic. One of the main functions fat has is protection. By protection I mean insulation for body warmth, and cushioning of the body’s organs. Fat also promotes growth, development, and the maintenance of cell membranes. In addition, fat plays a key role in the digestion of vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluble vitamins, meaning they require fat in order to be absorbed efficiently by the body.

3. Carbohydrates

These are the body’s main source of energy. Carbohydrates, (or carbs), are chains of small, simple sugars that are broken down and enter the body as glucose. Having glucose in the body is vital, due to the fact it is the brains favoured source of energy, as well as the heart and central nervous system. The human diet should consist of 45-65% carbohydrate.

Carbohydrates are found in many foods and many forms. Stay away from foods with simple sugars in.  Foods like fruits (natural sugars), vegetables, beans and nuts, as well as whole grains are great sources of natural healthy carbohydrates. These types of food also contain fibre. Fibre cannot be digested by the body, but aids the body in removing waste and also helps lower cholesterol levels.