What are the three macronutrients, and why are they so important?
All food comprises one or a combination of these three nutrients - carbohydrates, fat, and protein. "Macro" means large - so you can also view the term "macronutrient" and meaning large nutrient.
To understand each macronutrient, let's look at how much energy they provide the body with and what function they accomplish in the body.
Each gram of protein contains four calories. This means that if you were to eat a meal that 30 grams of protein, you would be getting 120 calories from protein in that meal.
The role of protein is to provide the body with essential amino acids, which are used for protein synthesis in tissue growth and repair.
When it comes to women's health specifically, adequate amino acids are needed to support the liver's detoxification and proper functioning. A minimum of 120 grams of protein a day is optimal for most women, with some exceptions.
Each gram of carbohydrate contains four calories, how each gram of protein contains four calories. If you eat a meal containing 60 grams of carbohydrates, you will be consuming 240 calories from carbohydrates in that meal.
In regards to women's health, carbohydrates play an essential role in providing the body with energy. All carbohydrates turn into glucose, which is the primary fuel source of the cell. Without adequate glucose, hormone production and conversion are hindered, and muscles and tissue begin to waste away due to the body being forced to create its own glucose via a process called gluconeogenesis.
Unlike protein and carbohydrates, fat contains nine calories per gram. This means that the same visible measurement of fat, when compared to carbs and protein, will be worth over twice as many calories.
Fat is primarily responsible for energy production and for nutrient absorption. It's essential to eat enough so that all fat-soluble vitamins (vitamin A, D, E, and K) are absorbed and utilized for critical bodily processes.
It's helpful to be aware of macronutrients to create a balanced eating style and focus on getting enough of what you need. Many times, women are over-eating fat, eating carbohydrates alone, and not eating enough protein. Stay tuned for a more in-depth look into each macronutrient.