Understanding Macronutrients

According to the McKinley Health Center, Macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, fats and individual fatty acids. Micronutrients include vitamins, minerals and water. Macronutrients primarily provide the body with energy, while Micronutrients do not provide any energy to the body.

Macronutrients are nutrients that provide calories or energy. Nutrients are substances needed for growth, metabolism, and for other body functions. Since “macro” means large, macronutrients are nutrients needed in large amounts. There are three macronutrients:

• Carbohydrate
• Protein
• Fat

While each of these macronutrients provides calories, the amount of calories that each one provides varies.

Carbohydrate provides 4 calories per gram.
Protein provides 4 calories per gram.
Fat provides 9 calories per gram.

Each of the different macronutrients produces different amounts of energy, and each plays a unique role in sustaining life and promoting health.

Protein is the only macronutrient that promotes lean tissue growth (anabolism). In other words, to grow muscle you need protein! Plus, protein helps with building and repairing blood, bones, teeth, skin, hair, nails, and your internal organs, provides immune protection and can provide a source of energy

Complex carbohydrates are slowly absorbed from the intestine into the bloodstream, causing a more gradual and moderate increase in blood sugar. Examples of complex carbohydrates include oatmeal, whole grains, legumes such as kidney, pinto and navy beans along with other vegetables like asparagus, beans, broccoli and peas.

There are two types of fats – saturated and unsaturated. The good fats are the unsaturated fats - polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Unsaturated Fats come mostly from plant sources and are liquid at room temperature. These are known as the essential fatty acids and are very important to optimal health.

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