Macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Whether we are on a low carb diet for weight loss, maintenance, or health benefits, we all need to learn about counting macronutrients to maintain our health. To do so, we must become familiar with our food nutrition label. Although eating is a very pleasurable act, we eat for the nutritional energy (calories) it provides.
When you add the amount of energy or calories provided by each gram of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats you get the total calories provided. However, the different sources of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are not all of the same nutritional quality. Some are much more beneficial to our health than others.
For example, you could eat a teaspoon of sugar to get some carbohydrates in your diet. However, pure sugar is what you are getting. On the other hand, you could eat a small low carb fruit to meet your daily carb requirement. In this way, you will have also ingested a variety of vitamins, minerals, and beneficial fiber.
Therefore, to develop a healthy low carb diet plan, we all need to understand the role that different macronutrients can have in the body. For this reason, I have extended the list of macronutrients to mirror the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This page will give you a basic introduction macronutrients. However, you can learn more about the role of each macronutrient by clicking on the related links.
- Carbohydrates – The main roles of carbohydrates are to provide us with energy. However, an abundance of carbs are found in most of the foods that we eat. Once consumed, our body will convert and store the unused portion of energy to fat. And as a result, we gain weight. When we are not active, we need fewer carbs than when we are active.
- Proteins (Amino Acids) – Proteins are the body’s main building block. Therefore, protein is essential for our body’s healing, repair, and growth of our hair, nails, and skin (inside and out). When we are severely injured, our body will need and use more protein to help repair itself.
- Fats and Cholesterols – Stored fat protects and insulates the body. However, there are many kinds of fats. Healthy fats do not cause high-cholesterol and are essential for vitamin absorption. While some cholesterol is needed to produce and regulate our sex hormones, an excess consumption of cholesterol can lead to health problems. The same is true for many of the fats that we eat.
- List of Low Carb Nuts (Source of Healthy Fats)
- Fiber – The important role of fiber is often unknown and overlooked. Fiber does much more than just keep use regular. Fiber actually help bad lower cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure levels by regulating our net fat, sugar, and sodium intake. Plus, it makes us feel full longer and often provide a variety of micronutrients.
- Water – Our body is made of mostly water. Therefore, water is essential for life. Water keeps us hydrated, improves blood flow, and help filter waste products and toxins from our body. High-quality water can also supply us with trace minerals.
Macro vs. Micro
If needed, you can use the following examples to remember the difference between “macro” nutrients and “micro” nutrients.
The term “macro” is used for things that we can see with our naked eyes. Examples of macronutrients are (1) chicken and steak (proteins and amino acids); (2) spinach, rice, and beans (carbohydrates); (3) coconut oil, olive oil, or grease from meat (fats and cholesterols); (3) apple, grapefruit, and spinach (fiber) and (4) a cup of water is obviously water.
Similarly, “micro” is used for things that we need a microscope to see. So, micronutrients are nutrients that we cannot see with our naked eyes. They include things like vitamins, minerals, and specific amino acids. Micronutrients will be discussed at a later time.
This concludes the Low Carb Diet Life introduction to macronutrients.