Diet is one of the most critical aspects of human life. True to the old adage, you are what you eat. Centuries ago, people really didn’t put much thought into what they ate. At the time, there were fewer unhealthy food choices for people to make. With time however, fast foods and convenience foods became common. These foods are tasty for the most part, but they are also nutritionally empty.
At one point in your life, you have most likely fallen in love with some form of fast food or junk food. It could be cake, fries, deep-fried chicken, chips, or even burgers. The combination of fat and sugar in these foods makes it hard to stop craving them. That burger could be the thing you think about first thing in the morning, and the last thing you think about before you retire for the day. Or you could also have an insatiable sweet tooth, which means that in a day, you end up consuming more sugar than anything else.
Sometimes, poor diet does not always occur in the form of excessive consumption of junk. You could be keeping a huge distance between yourself and unhealthy foods and still end up developing poor dietary habits. How, you ask? Good diet is all about balance. You could be eating so much of one type of food that you forget that other foods are important, too.
That is why it is exceedingly important that you eat all the right foods in the right proportions. And when it comes to a good diet, you need all the information you can get on the topic. That should help you make wiser food choices.
But why is diet important, anyway?
Well, for one thing, your body gets a vast majority of the nutrients it needs from the food you eat. Secondly, eating correctly also gives your body’s immunity a major boost. Additionally, if you have tried your hand at body building or strength training, no doubt your trainer emphasized the importance of eating correctly to you.
This is because foods also determine how good your athletic performance will be. If you are trying to lose some weight, you are also probably familiar with the critical role that diet plays in either boosting or derailing your efforts. And ultimately, having a poor diet is the worst enemy to good health.
You stand the risk of developing any number of diseases such as diabetes or even heart disease. For these and many more reasons, it is important that you arm yourself with knowledge that will help you make good diet choices.
What Are Macronutrients?
Macronutrients are those nutrients that your body requires in large quantities. Quite literally, the name macro means large. These are the nutrients that are responsible for producing energy in your body. There are three main nutrients that are categorized as macronutrients, namely fats, carbohydrates and proteins.
The body needs these nutrients in large quantities because they are essential to many critical processes. You need macronutrients for growth and development, as well as for the production of energy. They are the fuel that keeps the body running correctly every hour of the day.
What Are MicroNutrients?
Macronutrients are often contrasted with micronutrients. As the name implies, these are nutrients that are required in small amounts in the body. They include vitamins and some metallic nutrients such as potassium and calcium. The fact that they are required in small amounts does not mean that you can do without them.
This is where balance comes into play where diet is concerned. Micronutrients and macronutrients work hand in hand to maintain balance in your body. They are both necessary for your body to function correctly.
Some of the most important micronutrients are vitamins. Some of the most well-known vitamins include Vitamin A, E, D, B and K. Vitamins are well known for boosting immunity. They are also some of the most potent anti-oxidants known to man. As anti-oxidants, they help reduce inflammation, and they also neutralize the effects of free radicals. Vitamins found in sources such as fruits also generally protect your body from disease causing micro-organisms. They also promote repair of damaged tissue.
Selenium, another essential micronutrient, promotes the production of an enzyme that is referred to as the master anti-oxidant enzyme. That alone suffices to show just how incredibly important these micronutrients are. There is also a class of micronutrients that is referred to as electrolytes.
The class comprises mostly of metallic nutrients. These help maintain balance in the body by regulating blood pressure as well as balancing fluid levels.
They also play a role in controlling the movement of muscles, ensuring proper digestion and absorption of food and strengthening your bones. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could source all these nutrients from just one food? It would make it that much easier to obtain all the nutrients required for proper functioning of your body from one place.
Unfortunately, there is no single food on earth that contains all the many nutrients that your body requires to keep working at its best. That means that you need to vary your diet every single day in order to ensure that you do not suffer deficiency of some nutrient or other.
On the bright side however, varying your diet also means that you get to eat many different foods and aren’t tied to just one food, which may not really be your favorite.
Why Are MacroNutrients Important?
As mentioned above, macronutrients play several important roles in the human body. To elaborate this, you need to learn about each of these macronutrients in great detail. That way, you will understand better why you need to consume them in large portions every day.
Top Macronutrient Food Sources
Carbohydrates are generally regarded as the energy sources for the body. True enough, when they are digested, these foods produce a lot of energy. Each gram of carbohydrate produces four calories of energy. The glucose that is sourced from carbohydrates can be used to provide energy. But if the glucose is in excess of what the body requires, some of it will be stored for later use.
Although the general notion is that energy can be sourced only from carbohydrates, this is not entirely true. In fact, each macronutrient is as responsible for the production of energy in the body as carbohydrates are. The rate at which carbohydrates are digested depends on a number of factors, such as the fat and roughage content of the carbohydrates in question.
Carbohydrates that have high fiber content are generally digested at a slow pace. This means that your body gets slow and steady releases of energy, which is nothing if not ideal. If you source your carbohydrates from foods that are high in fiber, then you are unlikely to feel hungry too often, or to crave for food during your every waking moment.
Some of the ideal sources of carbohydrates include root vegetables such as sweet potatoes and potatoes. Fruits are another ideal source of carbohydrates. You can also source your carbohydrates from whole grains and legumes.
Refined carbohydrates are quickly absorbed into your blood stream. This means that energy is released in your body in quick, short busts. Unfortunately, that is not how your body works. It requires constant provision of energy in order to work correctly.
Thus, when you source your carbohydrates from refined foods, you may experience extremes in energy levels. You may be full of energy for a minute and in dire need of it the next minute. During your low energy moments, you may experience dizziness or even brain fog.
Making a habit of eating only refined foods may also see you developing cravings for these foods. You may also put on a lot of weight, because the excess in energy will simply be stored in your body.
Even worse is the fact that you could develop insulin resistance, which often leads to diabetes. There is simply too much for you to lose when you source your carbohydrates from refined foods. You are certainly better off eating whole foods instead.
Proteins are commonly known as body building foods. This is because they are the foods that play the largest part in growth and development. Proteins are made up of amino-acids, which are quite literally the body’s building blocks. There are nine essential amino-acids that must be sourced from foods. They are referred to as essential amino-acids because the body cannot make any of its own.
Just like carbohydrates, when proteins are digested, they produce 4 calories of energy per gram. Some of the major roles that proteins play in the human body include promoting muscle growth and repair, and production of energy.
They are also the essential in the formation of vital body organs. Because they contribute heavily to muscle growth and repair, proteins are invaluable for athletic people. Getting an injury after a work-out session is quite common.
If you are working out for body-building purposes, you should be warned that it is quite possible to damage more muscle than you build during your training sessions. This makes it even more important for you to include generous portions of proteins in your diet.
Children and adolescents have different protein needs from adults. This can be easily explained by the fact that it is during one’s childhood and adolescence that they grow the most.
Because proteins play an indispensable role in growth, it only makes sense to include them in large amounts during one’s growing years. Additionally, expectant women also need to consume more-than-average proteins. This is because the small bundle of joy inside them grows at an astonishing rate. And where growth and development is concerned, proteins are beyond vital.
The aged also need to consume enough proteins, even though they may not be growing as much. Remember that proteins are as good a source of energy as carbohydrates are, and the aged need as much energy from food as they can possibly get.
Proteins also help improve moods as well as put a stop to anxiety and insomnia, and improve concentration. Proteins also prevent muscle wasting, which can be quite an issue during old age.
Additionally, proteins can greatly help you in your efforts to lose weight. How, you ask? It all goes back to the amount of food you consume in a day. It is often said that the key to losing weight is to consume far fewer calories than your body burns. That means that you should cut back on your overall food intake.
That is not always something that willpower alone will help you achieve. You also need to take practical measures to ensure that you don’t exceed the number of calories you should consume in a day.
Eating enough proteins comes in handy because proteins are known to increase satiety. This means that you will feel full for most of the day, and are less likely to consume high-calorie foods that derail your weight loss efforts.
Fats are rarely associated with good health. This is a misconception that has chained generations to the wrong dietary habits. Fats are a source of energy, and a pretty dense one for that matter. For each gram of fat that is digested, 9 calories of energy are released.
The only catch with energy production from fats is that a lot of oxygen is required in order to break them down. That is why fats are usually stored as energy reserves, and are used only when the body runs out of energy from other sources.
Contrary to popular belief, fats don’t make you fat. In fact, they can help you achieve quite the opposite effect. As ridiculous as this may sound, research actually shows that fats can be used in the management of weight.
This is because, just like with proteins, fats can help suppress appetite. That way you end up consuming far fewer calories than you ordinarily would. Fats are also important in the prevention of disease.
That being said, it is important to note that there are healthy and unhealthy fats. Healthy fats include monounsaturated fats, such as those obtained from plant sources, as well as polyunsaturated fats.
Monounsaturated fats can be obtained from avocados and olive oil. Polyunsaturated fats are those obtained from omega-3 fish oil. You also need small amounts of ordinary saturated fats such as those obtained from dairy products, beef, milk, or even coconut oil.
These fats help cushion vital organs such as the heart, eyes, and liver. They also regulate the production of certain hormones and body temperature. Additionally, they are essential for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins. Fats also help protect you from being overwhelmed by stress and anxiety.
Studies also show that consuming healthy fats can substantially lower the risk of developing heart disease. In fact, these fats will lower the amounts of bad cholesterol in your blood while at the same time increasing the levels of good cholesterol.
How Much Of Each Macronutrient Do You Need?
One cannot overemphasize just how important it is to include each macronutrient in your daily calorie intake.
But you could be wondering, do I need to take all three macronutrients in equal portions every day? The answer to that question is that it depends. Nutritional needs vary from one person to another, depending on a number of factors such as age, weight, and the objective of following a given diet.
If you are a bodybuilder, you most certainly have to consume plenty of proteins, fewer carbs, and even smaller amounts of fats. The real danger arises when as a bodybuilder you forget to include some fats and carbs in your diet.
After all, in order to gain muscle, it is imperative that you shed the layers of fat first. But that attitude can be disastrous. As a matter of precaution, always ensure that fats form more than 15% of your diet. It is more important than you might think.
Another group of people that is likely to fall prey to eating meals devoid of healthy fats is those who want to lose weight. Just like athletes and bodybuilders, they too are convinced that failure to consume fats will help them lose weight faster. If you want to lose weight, you may also be very tempted to cut out all carbohydrates from your diet. Needless to say, this is a work in futility.
From where will you source your energy? And how balanced will the hormones in your body be if you fail to consume carbohydrates? If you fail to consume enough carbohydrates, you are only going to wreak havoc in your body.
What About IIFYM Diets?
IIFYM stands for If It Fits Your Macros. It is a type of macros diet where you calculate the number of calories you consume every day, especially if you are working towards a specific goal. With a nutritionist’s help, you calculate just how many calories of each class of macronutrients you need to consume every day. You need to be very meticulous and careful in order to achieve your goals when following this specific diet.
An alternative form of IIFYM is where you simply consume a range of calories for each food diet. This diet usually works based on estimation, but you also need guidance on the number of calories you need to consume every day.
An IIFYM diet is effective in helping you achieve specific short-term goals. It can also help you develop discipline and control in what you eat. But generally speaking, if you make a habit of avoiding sugary and refined foods, you should be good to go.
Fast foods may be savory and sweet, but they are packed with empty calories that will do you no good no matter how hard you try to stick to diet. Start by avoiding these foods and you will start seeing the change you want.
Sources Of MacroNutrients
Despite the allure of refined foods, you are better off sourcing your carbohydrates from healthier natural foods. Some of these sources include root vegetables such winter squash, cassava, and sweet potatoes. You can also source carbs from ordinary green leafy vegetables such as cabbage, lettuce, and spinach. Fruits, especially berries, are also great sources of healthy carbohydrates, as are legumes and whole grains.
Some of the richest sources include meat, be it red or white meat. You can also get plenty of proteins from dairy products and eggs. Lentils and legumes are also rich sources of proteins. If you wish to have a fairly accurate estimate of the amount of protein you should consume in a day, there is a simple rule you can follow.
The rule is to consume at least half your weight in grams of proteins daily. Children and body builders should ideally consume more than this since they need proteins the most.
One source of healthy fats is coconut oil and milk. Virgin olive oil is yet another ideal source of proteins. You can also obtain fats from ghee and butter. Fish is also an excellent source of fat, as are seeds and nuts. Animal products such as yoghurt also contain a fair amount of essential fats.
Top Macronutrient Food Sources Conclusion
Macronutrients are essential to the human body, and not just some, but all of them. Fortunately, they also make the largest composition of common foods, so it is hard not to consume them.
There are three macronutrients: fats, carbohydrates and proteins. It is imperative that you consume healthy portions of each of these nutrients each and every day. If you wish to achieve certain objectives, say shed off some weight or even gain more muscle weight, you might want to keep count of your daily intake of these nutrients.
With the right guidance, reaching your goals shouldn’t be too difficult. On the whole, however, simply avoiding fast foods and those that are highly refined can go a long way in helping you develop good dietary habits.
Now that you know all about macronutrients and the role that each plays in your body, you should have an easy time making the right diet choices.