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Nutrition Files: The 101 on Macronutrients

Let’s face it; there is so much information out there now about what foods and nutrients to include in your daily diet that it can become overwhelming very quickly. From meal plans and meal replacements to the growing industry of pre-ordered, ready-made meals delivered to your doorstep through sites such as – the choices are endless! As more people become aware of their health, more knowledge is being created to compensate this – not a bad thing of course! But where do you start? How about at the source of so many people’s diet and health concerns: calories. A more accurate description is ‘macronutrients’, and below is the low-down on everything macro to get you ready to tackle your health head-on.

What are They?

You may have heard the term a few times, but never really stopped to find out exactly what they are. Put simply, they are nutrients that your body needs in large amounts – hence the name ‘macro’. They are the nutrients that bring in your energy or calories and are most commonly found in carbohydrates, proteins and fats. These big players have big responsibilities in your body including being needed for growth and metabolism, as well as a number of other body functions.

What are the best sources?

When thinking carbohydrates, think starchy foods. Vegetables such as potatoes are a great source, as are anything from grains such as breads, pastas, cereals and rice. Milk and fruit are another easily accessible source. The best source of protein comes from meats, including poultry and fish. Legumes and various dairy products also contain protein but in lesser amounts. Finally, fats – not a scary word, but a necessity for a balanced diet. There is such a thing as ‘good fats’ and some of the best sources include oils, meats and milk products.

Vegetables are a great source of Macronutrients

What do they do?

Each macronutrient has a different role to play, but each is just as important as the next so it’s important to keep some form of all of them in your diet. Firstly carbs; think of them as your main source of energy. This macronutrient provides glucose to the body; the fuel for your cells, your brain and your metabolism – just to name a few! The next is protein. There are actually thousands of proteins in your body, each with their own job to do. From enzymes to amino acids to hormones, the role of proteins is extremely varied and includes speeding up chemical reactions, providing structure to bones and maintaining fluid balance. And last but not least, fats. Fats are vital for proper hormone function, as well as growth and development, and can even help to curb hunger as this macronutrient is a high source of calories.

As you can see, macronutrients really are the fuel for your body, and should not be abruptly removed from your diet without medical consultation. Yes, everybody is different, and some people have more trouble than others when it comes to bodily functions such as digestion, so may need lesser amounts of certain food groups in their diet. However, cutting out a macronutrient completely from your meals can have adverse effects, because as you can see, each has an enormous role to play. What are some ‘good fats’ you can think of that you keep in your own diet? Write your answers in the space below.

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