Macronutrients

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Protein

Two types: Essential and non-essential

To keep it simple, proteins are the building blocks of our bodies. They’re made up of chains of amino acids used for restoring cells and developing the body. The two types of proteins are essential and non-essential. Essential proteins must be consumed from food whereas non-essential proteins are made or synthesized by the body. The recommended daily allowance of essential protein is 10-35% of total calories. Proteins can be found in animal products like chicken, fish, lean meats, eggs, etc. as well as non-animal products such as beans, soy, tofu, nuts, etc.

 

Fat

Two types: Saturated and Unsaturated

Fat is a bit more complicated, but, again, let’s make it as simple as possible.  Fats are essential; however, it only takes a few to reach our daily needs. According to the Dietary Reference Intakes, 20- 35% of daily calories should come from fat. Fat packs about double the calories per gram compared to carbohydrates and protein — nine calories per gram of fat versus four calories per gram of carb or protein. The two types of fats are saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats raise  LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of many health issues. Most saturated foods are solid at room temperature: cheese, butter, whole milk, cream, etc. Unsaturated fat is split into two different categories, poly- and mono-, but that’s beyond the scope of this blog. Overall, unsaturated fats help lower LDL cholesterol, which lowers the  risk of major health issues. Unsaturated fats for the most part are in a liquid state at room temperature: olive, canola, sunflower, or soybean oil, etc.

 

Carbohydrates/Carbs/CHO

Two types: Complex and Simple

Carbohydrates (CHO) are the energy of our bodies! According to the Dietary Reference Intakes, 45% – 65% of daily calories should come from carbohydrates. The two types of carbs are complex and simple. The major differences are the rate of digestion and nutritional value. Complex carbs digest more slowly and have a greater nutritional value than simple carbs. Complex carbs are found in foods such as vegetables, whole grains, and leguminous plants, etc. whereas simple carbs are found in candy, table sugar, white flour, milk, soda, etc.

 

Take Home

All three macronutrients — protein, fat, and carbs —  are essential. However, everyone has their own macronutrient goals based on their physical and/or performance goals. Make sure to consult with your practitioner before changing your dietary intake.

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