What are macronutrients & why do we need a balance of the three?
Updated: Apr 13
Macronutrients sound like a fancy nutrition term but you’d be surprised to know that you have most likely heard of all of them and eat them on a daily basis. There are 3 macronutrients that make up our diet - protein, fats and carbohydrates. Each have been championed and villainized many times throughout recent history. The truth is, all 3 of the macronutrients are incredibly important to our health and wellness. They each help with different processes in the body - hormone balance, cellular make-up, sleep, stress response, and on and on. Today I think it’s important to discuss what each one is and why we need them.
Protein. Adequate protein intake is not just for the bodybuilder in your life - protein provides us with the building blocks of life. It contributes to making muscle (hence the bodybuilding reference), hair, blood, enzymes, neurotransmitters and so much more. Protein also becomes more important as we age and begin to naturally lose muscle mass and strength. The loss of the two is correlated with chronic disease like insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease. Because of this, it’s necessary that we focus on eating more protein as we age. Protein can come from both plant and animal sources, making it easily attainable to include in our diet.
Carbohydrates. Carbohydrates or “carbs” have been the topic of much discussion in the nutrition world recently. One quick Google search and you’ll be able to find arguments for eating absolutely no carbs to eating a diet mostly filled with carbs - it's incredibly confusing and the reason many clients find themselves in my office. The truth is, carbohydrates are necessary for long-term health and brain function. The problem is, carbohydrates can be a hot fudge sundae or a pan of roasted vegetables. There is a lot to discuss in relation to carbohydrates but for the sake of simplicity, try to consume “slow” carbohydrates - high in fiber and blood sugar friendly. If you’re having trouble figuring out what foods are slow carbohydrates, focus on eating more plants in your diet.
Fats. Like protein, fat is one of the body’s most basic building blocks and essential to balanced health - both physically and mentally. Gone are the days of fat free snacks or replacing butter with margarine. Fat is not to be feared as we were previously convinced to believe. The most important rule to follow with fat is making sure that the source of fat you’re eating is high in quality. Low quality fats can be a common cause for inflammation and ironically, high quality fats can help prevent inflammation. Think avocado (or avocado oil!), nuts and seeds, organic animal sources or cooking your meals with a high quality oil like avocado or organic ghee.
If you’re struggling with incorporating all three of the macronutrients in your diet or figuring out which ones are right for you, I would highly recommend working with a qualified professional to figure it out. It often takes trial and error to find the best ratio of the three for each individual and having a trained professional to guide you can make all the difference.
Until next time,