The Importance of Macronutrients
There are a lot of misconceptions around the world about the importance of macronutrients in a person’s diet. Macronutrients include carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Carbohydrates and fats in today’s society often get a bad rep while proteins are being praised by athletes, “gym rats”, and most fad diets. In reality, each of these macronutrients are vital to our bodies on a daily basis. They provide our body with the energy it needs to sustain daily activities. It is crucial that the human population knows the facts about each of these macronutrients, the importance they have in our bodies, and how to properly include them in our diets.
Carbohydrates are found in a lot of popular foods in all cuisines. They are in pasta, bread, most snack foods, and even in fruits and vegetables. There are two types of carbohydrates known as complex carbs and simple carbs. Complex carbohydrates are found in most whole, unprocessed foods like whole grains and starchy vegetables. Simple carbohydrates are found in highly processed foods, fruits, and sugary snacks, and do not contain very much nutritional value. Carbs should make up approximately 50% of a human’s daily energy intake. Their function is primarily to provide the body with energy that has been derived from the glucose they contain. Without carbs, our bodies would not have enough energy to perform properly throughout a normal day.
Proteins are found in meat, poultry, beans, dairy, and nuts. They are made up of amino acids- a simple organic compound essential to life. There are two types of proteins, complete and incomplete. Complete proteins are found in meats, poultry, and dairy. Incomplete proteins are found in some grains, legumes, and nuts. The daily recommendation for protein intake varies greatly amongst the population. It changes based on sex, age, and physical activity levels. On a large scale, protein should make up approximately 20% of the daily caloric intake for a typical adult. Proteins play a vital role in cell creation and cell rehabilitation, making it crucial that proper amounts are consumed daily.
Fats are found in a variety of foods. There are three types of fats known as saturated fats, trans fats, and unsaturated fats. Saturated fats are often found as solids such as butter. Trans fats are added to a lot of packaged foods because they are chemically engineered to increase the shelf-life of processed foods and are known to raise cholesterol levels. Unsaturated fats are known as “healthy” fats that are typically found in plant sources like avocados, and oils from grape seeds and flaxseeds. Although it is not healthy to consume large amounts of fat, it is important that they are included in the diet in moderation. Fats provide energy and fatty acids that are essential to the body.
In conclusion, it is important (despite the latest trends), to include each of the energy providing macronutrients into our diets in order to keep our bodies working properly and to live a healthy lifestyle.
Ozdemir, A. Macronutrients in Adolescence. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2016;12:1162-1166.