Dr. Z Blog

What are MacroNutrients any why are they Important?

Diet and nutrition can be very confusing and there are a lot of conflicting opinions and recommendations for weight loss. Over the next couple of blog posts I’ll take you through some basic nutrition information so that you can better evaluate what is out there.

To start, let’s go over “macros” or macronutrients. Macronutrients refer to the categories of foods we eat that provide us with calories. So when someone talks about their macros they are telling you where the calories are coming in from. Most foods we eat are made up of different amounts of these macronutrients. Most foods tend to be higher in one macronutrient than the others. So let’s take a closer look at the different macros that make up our diets.

Macronutrients are divided into three main groups:

     1. Protein

     a. Important structures that are involved in almost every process that goes on in our bodies

     b. Made of amino acids, which are tiny building blocks that fit together to make protein

                    i. Amino acids are then used to make a variety of structures or perform functions in the body

                    ii. For example the tryptophan found in turkey is an amino acid that body uses to make serotonin

                        (feel good hormone) and also melatonin (go to sleep hormone)

     c. Protein gives our bodies the materials needed much of our body’s tissues like muscles, hair, skin, and

          even bone.

     d. Best sources of protein are from animal sources or if the animal walks, swims, runs or flys it is a good

          source of protein

     e. There are also good sources of vegetable proteins, like pea protein

     f.  Protein provides about 4 calories of energy per 1 gram

2. Carbohydrates

     a. These are our bodies main source of energy, both short term and long term

     b. They are made up of chains of simple sugars called saccharides

     i. These chains can be very intricate and complex – thus the term complex carbohydrates

     c. Carbohydrates are also an important source of fibers and starches that keep our gut healthy and help us

         stay regular

     d. Most carbohydrates come from plant sources and when consumed in their least processed forms

          (fruits, vegetables)  also provide us with needed vitamins and minerals

     e. Carbohydrates provide our body with 4 calories of energy per gram

3. Fats

     a. Fat also provides us with energy and they are involved in the structure of our cells and nervous system

     b. There are three main types of fats and the shape of the fat determines the type and how the fats will be

          used by the body

                  i. Saturated fats > straight chain with no missing bonds, think full parking lot

                  ii. Mono-unsaturated fats > chain of fat that is missing two hydrogens and have one (“mono”) double

                       bond, think of a parking lot with a couple open spaces

                  iii. Poly-unsaturated fats > chain of fat that is missing four or more hydrogens, think parking lot with lots

                        of open spaces

     c. Other than energy fats do a lot for the body

                  i. They make and balance hormones

                  ii. Form the cell membrane (outer covering of the cell)

                  iii. Form our brain and nervous system

                  iv. Provide a source of essential fatty acids: Omega -3 & Omega – 6

     d. Fats provide 9 calories of energy per gram

Whew! That was a lot of information, and that was just basic macronutrient information! So don’t feel bad if you get confused or overwhelmed by all the information out there. Most of it is just white noise that people are using to sell a product or diet program. Once you’ve been armed with the basics and know how to identify good healthy foods sticking to a healthy lifestyle becomes much easier. Keep checking back for more nutrition information and if you have any questions or would like to get started on the path to a healthier you give us a call at 822-BACK or visit our website drzwny.com.

Written by: Dr. Marshall Dornink