Whenever you hear someone in our world talking about macros they are talking about the three macronutrients fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. These three nutrients are needed in large quantities in order for the human body to grow and repair itself. It is important to know how these nutrients affect your body, because they have an effect on your goals.
Carbohydrates are found in a majority of our foods for good reason. Carbohydrates are our bodies favorite source of nutrition. Carbs are made up of chains of sugar molecules. Sugar molecules can be broken down into polysaccharide, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, and monosaccharides. You have probably heard of many of the monosaccharides such as glucose, fructose, and galactose. I won’t get into the details of the sugar, but know if they are not used immediately, than they are stored in the body as glycogen. Glycogen is stored in the liver and muscles for quick use. Once all glycogen stores have been filled any extra glycogen is stored in the body as adipose tissue or fat. This is the reason why you will hear most people say avoid carbs if you are trying to lose weight. Carbs are needed by the body so do not deprive your body of it’s favorite nutrient, just limit your consumption.
Carbohydrates are so important that they are even in protein. Protein is made up of amino acids. Amino acids are basically carbs with nitrogen groups attached. The important thing to remember about protein is that about 10 essential amino acids cannot be made within our body, so they must be obtained through our diet. Most of the essential amino acids can be found in animal proteins. These are called complete proteins. Plant based foods do not contain complete proteins (except soy), but they can be obtained through a specific combination of plant based foods. The reason why plant based proteins are debated heavily, especially in regards to diets that restrict or forbid meat is because of protein quality. In short protein quality is measured based upon its essential amino-acid composition, bioavailability, digestibility. The best quality of proteins have been identified as grains-legumes, grains-dairy, and legumes-seeds. So in short Legumes are king. Once protein has been digested it is used to rebuild and repair tissues (muscle tissue especially). If it is not used for rebuilding process it is not stored in the body, it is lost through waste.
Fats are the most caloric dense nutrient out of all nutrients (9 cal/gram). Protein contains (4 cal/gram) and carbohydrates contain (7 cal/gram). Fat serves many important functions in the body. Fat is broken down by the body into a triglyceride which is used as energy. Triglycerides are transported by proteins and are easily oxidized. This is the reason why fat burns more efficiently during cardiovascular exercises.The main thing you want to know about fats is you want to avoid eating too much of them, especially saturated and trans fats. These fats do not dissolve easily and clog arteries and raise your cholesterol to unhealthy levels. Some fats should actually be encouraged like Omega 3’s and 6’s. These fats cannot be produced by the body and must be ingested. Fish is a great source for these fats. These fats are known for reducing blood clotting and raising HDL (your good cholesterol). Fats from raw nuts and seeds are known to have healthy side effects for your blood pressure and brain as well.
The biggest point I wanted to make today was that all three of these nutrients are needed by our body, and we should not deprive our body of them. We should however be conscious of how much of these nutrients we are ingesting, and how they affect our fitness goals.