Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are macronutrients. They all work differently in the body and are made of different properties. Macronutrients are energy-providing chemical substances consumed by organisms in large quantities. The three macronutrients in nutrition are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
Carbohydrates (4 calories per gram)
Carbs are primarily found in starchy foods, like grain and potatoes, as well as fruits, milk, and yogurt. Other foods like vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and cottage cheese contain carbohydrates, but in lesser amounts.
Carbohydrates can be simple or complex, which refers to their chemical structure. Simple carbohydrates taste very sweet (like fruit sugar), while complex carbohydrates taste savory (like starch in potatoes). Simple carbohydrates are sugar which is a no-no because sugar is bad, plain, and simple. The biggest problem with simple carbs is that Simple carbs spike up the sugar levels and then quickly dips below normal which means you store the majority of the carbs as fat and this causes cravings. Unbalanced blood sugar levels are a major cause of cravings. Because your blood cannot tolerate too much sugar, your body naturally produces the hormone insulin this takes sugar from the blood and deposits it into the cells. Complex carbs, however, keep blood sugar levels stable and slowly consumed by the body which means fewer chances of stored as fat and cravings.
Added Sugars: Americans eat only 42% of the recommended amount of fruit and 59% of the recommended vegetable amount. We eat only 15% of the recommended servings of whole grains, but 200% of the recommended servings of refined grains. Americans over-consume added-sugars, which makes up 16% of the total calories in the American diet. Nearly 60% of added sugars come from soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, fruit drinks, and grain-based desserts like cakes, cookies, and brownies. The problem with added sugars is that they do not come packaged with an abundance of nutrients like a piece of fruit and a glass of milk do. For this reason, many people call them empty calories.
Fiber Needs: If we shunned all carbohydrates or if we severely restricted them, we would not be able to meet our fiber needs or get ample phytochemicals, naturally occurring compounds that protect the plant from infection and us from chronic disease. The hues, aromas, and flavors of the plant suggest that it contains phytochemicals. Scientists have learned of thousands of them with names like lycopene, lutein, and indole-3-carbinol. Among other things, phytochemicals appear to stimulate the immune system, slow the rate at which cancer cells grow, and prevent damage to DNA.
All naturally fiber-rich foods are also rich in carbohydrates. The recommended intake for fiber is 38 grams per day for men and 25 grams per day for women. The usual fiber intake among Americans, however, is woefully lacking at only 15 grams daily. Perhaps best known for its role in keeping the bowels regular, dietary fiber has more to brag about. Individuals with high fiber intakes appear to have lower risks of coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. Fiber-rich foods are protective against colorectal cancer, and increasing fiber intakes improves gastroesophageal reflux disease and hemorrhoids. Some fibers also lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Additionally, fibers are food for the normal (healthy) bacteria that reside in your gut and provide nutrients and other health benefits.
Fats (9 calories per gram)
Fat is responsible for providing energy, absorbing certain nutrients, and maintaining your core body temperature. Just like carbs, there are good fats and bad fats. Here is a list of types of fats and their functions:
Saturated fat: Saturated fat is mainly found in animal foods such as milk, cheese, and meat but it can also be found in coconut oil, palm oil, and cocoa butter. saturated fats carry both negative and positive. Some of the positives in Saturated fats are that it increases HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) which transports the cholesterol away from the arteries and toward the liver where it may either be excreted or reused, which may result in lowering the risk of stroke.
Trans Fat: The bad fat, trans fat has been changed by a process called hydrogenation which increases the shelf life of fat and makes it harder at room temperature. Trans fat can raise cholesterol which may cause a stroke or other heart disease. Foods like cookies, margarine, salad dressings, and other processed foods contain trans-fat.:
Unsaturated fat: Mostly found in oils from plants and may help improve cholesterol levels. There are different types of unsaturated fats
Monounsaturated fat: Found in avocado, nuts, and vegetable oils, and peanut oils, eating foods high in monounsaturated fats bad help lower LDL cholesterol which is the bad cholesterols.
Polyunsaturated fat: Mainly found in vegetable oils like safflower, sunflower, sesame, soybean, corn oils, and seafood. Eating polyunsaturated fat may help lower LDL cholesterol.
Fats in the Body Say NO to very low-fat diets. Why? Many people find them limiting, boring, tasteless, and hard to stick to. And because fat tends to slow down digestion, many low-fat dieters fight hunger pangs all day or eat such an abundance of low-fat foods that their calorie intake is too great for weight loss. Dietary fat has critical roles in the body. Each gram of fat, whether it’s from a spoon of peanut butter or a stick of butter, provides 9 calls.
This caloric density is a lifesaver when food is scarce and is important for anyone unable to consume large amounts of food. The elderly, the sick, and others with very poor appetites benefit from high-fat foods. Because their small tummies can’t hold big volumes, small children, to need fat to provide enough calories for growth.
Protein (4 Calories per gram)
Protein is found in every single cell in our body. The body uses this protein for many vital processes so we need to replace it constantly. The body has several basic building blocks and protein is one of the important ones. Protein accounts for around 16 % of a person’s total body weight because our connective tissues, skin, hair, and muscle are all made up of protein. What are the main purposes of protein? Protein is responsible for building muscles, bones, and other body parts. Protein also balances the pH value and increases immunity. There are different types of proteins:
Whey concentrate: Whey is one of the most basic forms of protein that is found in stores. It’s inexpensive and is digested very easily by the body.
Whey Isolate: One of the quickest absorbing proteins. Very low in carbs/ sugars. Isolate is great for pre and post-workout.
Casein Protein: Slow digesting protein, most people usually take casein right before bed since it takes 5-7 hours to fully breakdown.
Hydrolysate protein: Highest quality of protein available but the most expensive also. Hydrolysate provides highly absorbable peptides that have a great anabolic effect and is much better on the digestive system compared to whey concentrates.
Soy protein: Good source of protein for the vegetarian. Soy Protein comes with many benefits to its user. It’s loaded with glutamine (helps with recovery), arginine (helps dilate the blood vessels to allow nutrition to get into muscle quicker), and BCAA’s (branched-chain amino acids) to help with recovery from workout.
Egg albumin: Old school protein when the powder was nonexistent. Egg albumin is not bought in powder form but rather in carton or container and cooked. This source of protein can be used anytime throughout the day but is not a preferred source to use at night.