What are macronutrients?

What are macronutrients?

Macronutrients are the nutrients we need in larger quantities that provide us with energy: these are, fat, protein and carbohydrate. Micronutrients are mostly vitamins and minerals, and are equally important but consumed in very small amounts..

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are a major macronutrient and one of your body’s primary sources of energy. Some weight loss programmes discourage eating them and as a result people believe that it’s carbs that make you fat.

Carbs don’t make you fat, the body starts to store fat when we consume excess energy, this can be from carbs, fat and protein. If you eat to much of anything, even good healthy nutrient dense food you will store fat.

So don’t go cutting carbs out of your diet completely you need them, they are your primary source of energy you’ll use during your workout.

Simple carbs

Simple carbohydrates are broken down quickly by the body to be used as energy. They are found naturally in foods such as fruits, milk, and milk products. They are also found in processed and refined sugars such as sweets, table sugar, syrups, and soft drinks.

Simple carbs have the ability to raise blood glucose levels quickly. This can be a good thing after a workout because it will release the hormone insulin which is used to drive glucose to the muscles in order to stabilize blood sugar levels. The insulin response carries the nutrients from your meal straight to your muscles where it is then used in the repair process. However, if the muscles glycogen stores are full up, then the excess carb energy will be stored as fat.

Complex carbs

As the name states these carbs have a more complex structure and therefore take longer to break down to become glucose. They won’t spike your blood sugar levels excessively, and will provide a steadier supply of energy.
Good sources of complex carbohydrates are wholegrain rice, oats, potatoes, vegetables and quinoa.

Fibrous carbs

These are found in vegetables like spinach,broccoli, green beans , kale, cauliflower and courgettes. These carbs do not elevate your blood sugar levels and don’t have many calories. But are essential for your health.

Protein

Protein is an important component of every cell in the body. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. You also use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. Your hair and nails are mostly made of protein and you will find that if they are dry, split or weak then you may not be getting enough protein in your diet.

All proteins are made up of amino acids, There are 20 different types of amino acids that can be combined to make a protein. Nine of these amino acids are essential to the body, but the body cannot produce them itself so you must get them from your diet.

Protein should form the basis of your diet and the amount of protein should stay consistent on both workout and rest days.

Main functions of protein

Repair and Build – Protein is essential to rebuild and repair your lean muscle. Every day your body is breaking down proteins and when we are working out especially with resistance training we are breaking down the muscle even more.

Healthy cells – Protein is responsible for your skin, hair and nails.

Metabolism – Protein is required for hormone production including insulin.

Fats

Not all fats are created equal, some fats are good, some bad and some are essential to the body and can only be obtained from your diet. These are made up of chains of fatty acids and differ in structure. All fats contain a combination of fatty acids so no fat is purely saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated.

The importance of fat

Fat should never be avoided in your diet, it plays a vital role in keeping the body healthy., Fat is a great source of fuel it increases satiety and helps maintain blood sugar levels, certain vitamins such as A,D,E and K can not be absorbed into the body without the presence of fat and fat is necessary for the production of essential hormones and it improves your skin and helps keep your hair healthy.

There are 3 types of fat as outlined below.

Saturated fats

Saturated fats are found in animal products, such as eggs, milk, butter, cheese and meat. These were once thought to be bad fats as they were linked to heart disease
and high cholesterol however this was based on inaccurate old research using animals and not humans and only focused on total cholesterol which included both the bad (LDL) and the good (HDL), The latest research now shows that it increases the good cholesterol that is needed by the body.

Polyunsaturated

Polyunsaturated fats can be found in oily fish e.g salmon and mackerel and flaxseed oil, sunflower seeds and walnuts. This can lower your LDL cholesterol and contains omega 3 important for your body for a wide range of benefits including, improving risk factors of Heart Disease, Improve Eye Health and can help fight Depression and Anxiety. Your body cannot produce Polyunsaturated fats so you need to add them to your diet.

Monounsaturated

Monounsaturated fats are found in nuts, seeds and extra virgin olive oil, this fat has been linked to increasing your HDL and has been associated with lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke, so incorporating these types of food into your diet is a great idea.

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