Nutrition can be quite difficult to understand. With so many different nutrients, so many minerals, and so many factors that make one’s nutrition and diet unique to themselves, it is important to take a few moments to learn what nutrition does for the body to then make the best choices in regard to the health and fitness goals you have in mind.
There are three macronutrients: Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. These are known as macronutrients (or macros for short) because they are needed in much larger amounts than what is needed of other nutrients and minerals.
Carbohydrates are nutrients that are essential for a variety of our body’s natural, vital functions. These macros are needed for the brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles to ensure they are working efficiently and effectively.
Carbs are the macronutrient that is needed in the greatest amount, with national recommendations calling for 45-65% of all daily caloric intake coming from carbs.
However, too much carb intake can result in excess fat gain if your body does not use all of the extra carbohydrate loads in your system. Therefore, it is important to learn how much carbs you need in your diet and then once learned, stick to that goal to prevent excess, unwanted fat buildup.
Carbs can be found from many food sources including potatoes and other starchy foods and grains. They are found in the highest amounts in these foods. They can also be found in fruits, vegetables, milks, yogurt, beans, nuts, and seeds.
You’ve likely heard: Proteins are the building blocks of life. This is true because proteins are the basis of our cells and our muscles, giving our bodies the lean, the tone, and the definition that makes us who we are.
Protein assists with tissue repair thanks to the more than 500 amino acids designed for muscular and cellular growth. Of those, nine are considered essential because they are not produced in the body, but rather are found in our diet. Therefore, we must eat a diet rich in protein for optimal health.
High-protein food sources include fish, poultry, cheese, nuts, milk, meat, and meat alternatives such as tofu. Additionally, plant-based protein sources can be beneficial for vegetarian and vegan diets.
National guidelines recommend 10-35% of all daily caloric intake results from protein.
Also known as lipids, fats are the third macronutrient essential for the human body. While they have a bad reputation, we actually do need fats in our systems in order to survive.
Lipids are important because they protect cellular membranes since they are not dissolvable in water. Additionally, lipids provide high-density energy for the body and for the body’s processes. Fats also protect organs and are the reason behind the full feeling we get when we eat a big meal, telling our body to stop the food consumption.
The trouble with fats comes when they are consumed in very great numbers, more so than needed, and not burned off. It is then that the fat becomes stored for future energy which results in fat buildup in the body.
The national recommendation for lipid consumption each day is 20-35% of caloric intake.
The key to desired health and fitness results is education and application. Use your new knowledge to reach your goals!