What Are Macronutrients? Are They Vital to Our Health and Happiness?
Say goodbye to the unhealthy fad-diets, and HELLO to macronutrients. What are macronutrients, you may ask?? Well, macronutrients are your body’s best friend, fueling you with the energy it takes to keep you moving all day long!
- Macronutrients provide your body with the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and maintain certain bodily functions.
- The three categories of macronutrients include: Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats.
- There’s a plethora of food options to achieve a healthy daily macro intake.
So what are macronutrients and what do they do?
Without macronutrients you would simply crash in the middle of the day, and have little to no energy ever… scary, right? So what are macronutrients and how are they so magical?? It’s actually quite simple, macronutrients are the nutritive components in food that provide your body with energy, and helps to maintain the vital structure and functions of your bodily systems. There are three main categories of macronutrients, which we will give more details about later on: Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats.
Macronutrients are the foods your body craves in LARGE amounts, hence the meaning of macro! These foods provide the best type of nutrition and are measured by the amount of energy they provide, or kcals. They serve the purpose of helping with our body’s major needs, such as providing energy or maintaining muscle mass.
Understanding your daily macro intake is different from counting calories in that it helps you to understand that not all calories are created equal. When you start to understand the importance of macronutrients, this enables you to understand the nutritional value of the foods going into your body and how they are supporting you in reaching various health goals.
Macronutrients vs Micronutrients
Both macronutrients and micronutrients are essential to the body in order to maintain a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle. Macronutrients provide us with the larger amount of nutrients and energy our body requires. On the other hand, micronutrients provide us with vitamins and minerals the body requires. Micronutrients are categorized into four components: water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins, microminerals, and trace minerals. A well-balanced diet will allow the body the essential macronutrients and micronutrients it needs to keep you healthy and living your best life!
Macronutrient types and recommended daily allowance (RDA)
Note: The RDA is the amount of nutrients you need to meet your basic nutritional requirements.
When the word carbohydrate comes up, people tend to immediately think of bread or pasta. People are shocked when they find out that foods such as certain vegetables and whole grains also fit into this category! In the world of fad-diets that we all live in, carbohydrates have seemingly developed an almost negative connotation associated with weight gain. We are here to tell you that carbs SHOULD NOT be your enemy, in fact, they are your body’s main source of energy!!
So how do carbohydrates give us this energy? Carbohydrates eventually break down into glucose, which is a vital substance to ensure certain organs, such as the brain, function properly.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of carbohydrates is between 225-325 grams.
What better way to strengthen the inside and outside of your body than with protein. Protein is another macronutrient that assists with building and repairing tissue, as well as protecting your lean body mass. Protein is composed of all your essential amino acids that work to strengthen your body from the inside out.
According to Harvard health, the RDA of protein is around 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
Have no fear, healthy fats are crucial to a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. The fat we are referring to serves many important functions to help sustain your body. Fat allows you to absorb fat soluble vitamins, store energy, protect organs, and help create certain hormones. Without a healthy amount of fat in your system, you could experience vitamin deficiency, a weakened immune system, and many more serious issues. However, be sure to avoid saturated and trans fats, and instead focus on good unsaturated fats.
The RDA of fat is between 44-77 grams, based on a 2,000 calorie intake (Cleveland Clinic).
There are many online calculators based on your age, weight, and height to help make sure you are consuming the proper and healthiest amount of macros per day!
Macronutrient Food Guide
So what are the best types of foods to eat to fuel your body with macronutrients? We have compiled a list based on the three categories to help you on your next grocery trip!
Carbohydrates: Oatmeal, quinoa, pumpkin, butternut squash, fresh beets, 100% whole grain pasta, sweet potato, grapefruit, apples, grapes, strawberries, pineapples, peaches, black berries, plums, zucchini, carrots, cauliflower, tomatoes, kale, onions, mushrooms, asparagus, spinach
Protein: Eggs, organic chicken, Greek yogurt, turkey breast, pumpkin seeds, grass-fed beef, almonds, walnuts, pecans, tofu, wild Alaskan salmon, flank steak, organic protein powder
Fats: Flaxseed, almonds, olive oil, cashews, pecans, wild caught salmon, peanut oil, olives, avocado, dark chocolate, hemp seed oil, virgin coconut oil
Long story short, stick to “eating the rainbow” as a quick tip to help you grocery shop effectively.
Stop wasting your time and sanity counting calories! Now that we have figured out the answer to our question of “what are macronutrients”, I think it’s time to start living a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle by intentionally implementing macros into your meal plan.
Macronutrients fuel your body and support so many bodily functions we don’t even think about half the time. Revolving your meal plans around macronutrients will lead to and ensure a more balanced and nutritious diet. Understanding your macronutrient intakes will also help you eat and make food more intentionally, as well as make healthier choices for what you are putting into your body. Let’s all start this new year with an optimistic mindset on food, and fill our year with creating all types of fun nutrient dense macro recipes!
Written by Emma Carlson