With so many people posting about health and nutrition you have probably seen quite a few posts about the importance of macronutrients when trying to achieve weight loss. If you haven’t seen anything about macronutrients you probably just scrolled past in the deluge of wellness dos and don’ts. It happens.
At Weight Loss Direct we understand how often information can slip past your radar so we are here to explain how macronutrients can be the key to proper nutrition and health. Macronutrients certainly aren’t the only factor that affects weight loss but they are something you should certainly pay attention to!
There are different forms of macronutrients and each is processed differently on our bodies. In this article we will explain how each macro is processed and the importance of balancing them. We will also be taking an in-depth look at the 3 major categories of macronutrients and their effect on your health and weight.
What are the macronutrients
Macronutrients, also know as “macros”, consist of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. For your body to function properly it needs all three of these macros in large amounts. Beyond their specialized functions macros are also your bodies main energy source. (Macronutrients)
Each macro is uniquely important and fats are no exception. Fats are essential for storing energy, helping to produce certain hormones, and fats help in forming a layer of soft protection for our organs. The three main types of fat are saturated fat, unsaturated fat, and trans fat.
Fat is a triglyceride (triglycerides are a type of lipid) that generally become solid when at room temperature. Fat / triglyceride falls under the “lipid” category, but not all lipids are fats – other types of lipids include fatty acids, glycerol, sterol lipid, and more .Triglycerides, however, are molecules with three fatty acids attached by ester bonds. Because of this they generally resemble a microscopic letter E. Animal triglycerides are important energy sources and are generally present in adipose tissues, bloodstream, and heart muscle (Fat Definition)
Fats also have the worst reputation of all three macronutrients with many people believing them to be unhealthy. This is actually not true with only saturated fats being bad for you. Unsaturated and unprocessed fats are actually essential for a healthy diet. (healthy vs unhealthy fats)
Carbohydrates are also an essential macro in our diet. With 4 main functions in our bodies carbohydrates provide energy, store energy, build macromolecules (like proteins) and allow our body to use food proteins and fats for construction and repair instead of energy. (energy production)
Carbohydrates are organic compounds that contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Carbohydrates are also the most common natural molecule produced naturally in living organisms. This is important because Carbs are one of the main nutritional needs for most living organisms.
When it comes to their nutritional value, carbs can be split into two major food groups: simple and complex. Simple carbs, also referred to as sugars are the easiest to digest and quickly provide a short supply of energy. Complex carbs take longer to digest and turn unto energy. Most complex carbs are high in fiber and wont lead to rapid changes in blood sugar. (Carbohydrates)
Proteins are the building blocks of our bodies. Every cell in the human body contains proteins and out bodies constantly need more to repair old cells and make new ones. Proteins are important for everybody but developing children, teens, and pregnant women need the most protein in their diets.
Proteins allow your body to grow, repair, and build. They are composed of both essential and non-essential amino acids. Non-essential amino acids can be made from scratch inside your body but essential amino acids can only come from your diet. Foods like meat, poultry, fish, cheese, and other animal by-products are best for getting these amino acids.
How our body processes macronutrients
Fats are an important source of energy and contain twice as much energy as a carbohydrate. However, our bodies will always store fat and burn carbs when given the choice.
When we eat fats they are digested and turned into fatty acids and glycerol. Most of the fats we eat are broken down in our small intestines but chemical breakdowns actually start the moment we take a bite. The enzyme lipases which is produces in the pancreas also plays a major roll in the digestion process.
Once fat has been digested the fatty acids are passed through our lymph system and into our blood. Once the fatty acids are in our bloodstream they are transported and used to store energy, repair our cells, and promote growth. Fatty acids can also be used to fight infections from our lymph system. Because of its roles in repair and growth fat is generally preserved while Carbohydrates are almost immediately used for energy. (Fat)
Like fat, Carbohydrates start to break down the moment we take a bite. Not much happens to carbs in our stomachs due to the acidic environment with most of the digestion happening in the small intestine.
After we eat, carbohydrates are quickly broken down into glucose for an immediate boost in energy. Excess glucose is then stored in our liver as glycogen or converted into fatty acids by insulin. If there is an over abundance of fatty acids fat can also build up in the liver. (carbs)
Protein digestion also starts when you take a bite. Our saliva has two enzymes called amylase and lipase that break down all three macronutrients. Most protein digestion happens in the stomach where where acids break proteins into smaller chains of amino acids and then joined together again by peptides. These proteins are broken down further in the small intestines and absorbed into the blood stream.
Once proteins have been digested into amino acids and absorbed the amino acids are recycled into new proteins. This is generally known as protein turnover. In fact, our bodies will break down roughly 250 grams of proteins and reassemble them for repairs and growth every day!
What happens when you overindulge
Macronutrients are important but it’s equally important to keep a balance of the three. When one macronutrient dips too low or you get too much of a specific macro it can lead to issues with your health.
Excess fats are stored in adipose tissue throughout our bodies. This tissue protects our bodies against injuries and helps regulate body temperature. If someone isn’t maintaining a healthy level of fat it can lead to worsened injuries and cause issues with maintaining a healthy temperature.
Additionally excess fat storage can eventually lead to obesity. Obesity can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, increased risk of blood clots, and a higher chance of heart attacks and stroke. (too much fats)
Unused carbohydrates are eventually converted into fat so too many or too few carbs can cause many of the same problems as too much or too little fat.
Excess carbohydrates can also lead to a fatty liver. Fatty liver from eating too many carbs can actually have the same effect as drinking too much alcohol. It can also contribute to various diseases including type 2 diabetes.
Proteins are a perfect example of how you can have too much of a good thing. If you eat a very high protein diet you are at increased risk of kidney stones. If most of your protein comes from red meats it can lead to heart disease, and colon cancer. If you eat a high protein diet that is plant based you will have a much lower chance of experiencing these problems.
People that suffer from gout can also experience an increase in discomfort if they eat too many animal based proteins.
Other issues can also arise from having too much protein in your diet. Some of these issues can include constipation, bad breath, and even increased risk of heart disease or kidney damage. (too much protein)
Fats, carbohydrates, and proteins make up almost everything we eat in our day to day lives. Known as macronutrients they are exactly what we are talking about when discussing the importance of a balanced nutritious life.
From the moment they enter our mouths macros are being digested and distributed throughout our bodies. Carbs are turned into energy, proteins help build our bodies and fats do a little of both.
Getting enough macronutrients is important but so is maintaining a healthy balance.
As always weight loss direct is dedicated to helping its community make the proper changes to lose weight and live healthy after every article we post. If you have any questions about our program and balancing macros please reach out and we can give you the resources you need!