Controlling your diet is extremely important to reach your goals, but what exactly is the best way to do that?
Most people try to keep track of the calories, however, there is one thing that is as important as that: keeping track of macronutrients intake.
So, What Are Macronutrients, and How Will They Help Your Diet?
First of all, we should make clear what calories are, since that is a huge step towards understanding what macronutrients are.
Calories are, surprisingly enough, a measure of energy. The scientific definition of calories is ”the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water through 1 °C, equal to one thousand small calories and often used to measure the energy value of foods.”.
That basically means that a calorie is a unit of measure that defines how much energy it takes to raise the temperature of 1cm3 of water by 1 degree Celsius.
That leads us to the Macronutrients.
Nutrients are substances needed for growth, metabolism, and for other body functions.
The main function of macronutrients is to provide energy, counted as calories. The prefix “macro” means large, and it is used because macronutrients are required in large amounts.
There are three broad classes of macronutrients:
Calories that are consumable by humans can be categorized into 4 groups; carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
But how many calories does each Macronutrient give us?
- Carbs have 4 calories per gram and are made up of food like potatoes, cereals, and grains.
- Protein has 4 calories per gram and is made up of animal products (meat and eggs, for example). You can also get protein from certain grains.
- Fat has 9 calories per gram.
It’s worth remembering, food itself rarely consists of a single macronutrient. Potatoes, and Rice, for instance, are commonly thought of as carbohydrates. While they may consist predominantly of carbs, they also contain fat, protein and fiber.
These macronutrients are the main stuff you must consume to stay alive.
It is also important that you consume fiber, although it is not as important as it is to consume macronutrients.
200 Calories Of Brocolli Are NOT Equal To 200 Calories Of Sweets
It’s the type of calories we consume – and not necessarily the number – that’s important!
And to make it clear, all you have to do is analyze the nutritional value of each product:
For example, let’s compare Broccolis with Cake.
Broccoli (50 flowerets)
- Fat: 2 g
- Carbs: 35.5 g
- Protein: 12 g
Cake (half a slice)
- Fat: 9g
- Carbs: 29 g
- Protein: 5g
Well, I guess by now you’ve noticed why it is so important to keep track of your Macronutrients intake instead of the calories intake.
As you can see, the Cake, although it has the same calories as those 50 flowerets of Broccoli have, has a lot of fat, which the main factor in food which makes us gain weight.
If you do the math, after these macronutrients are broken down, you’ll gain more 10 more calories with half a slice of cake than with FIFTY flowerets of broccoli (which supposedly had the same calories).
Basically, if you are looking to lose weight, you should focus on eating food which is low on fat, for that is the Macronutrient that contributes the most to the gain of weight.
But what are these 3 Macronutrients, and what is their purpose?
- The scientific definition of Proteins is ”any of a class of nitrogenous organic compounds which have large molecules composed of one or more long chains of amino acids”.
- Proteins are made of amino acids, many of which the body can make itself. However, there are nine amino acids that are required for normal body function that your body can’t biosynthesize.
- These nine are called essential amino acids, and the nine can be found from all meat sources.
- Unfortunately for vegetarians and vegans, it’s rare to find the full nine in legumes and grains, so you need to make sure you get them from another source.
- Protein’s crucial role in the body includes building, maintaining and repairing body tissue.
- It is especially important to physically active people whose muscle tissue is constantly in need of repair to consume Protein.
- All enzymes and hormones, which perform vital functions, are proteins. In addition, proteins are used to aid in the immune process.
- The scientific definition of Carbohydrates is “any of a large group of organic compounds occurring in foods and living tissues and including sugars, starch, and cellulose”.
- In common nutrition speak, carbs are largely divided into simple and complex Carbohydrates. The two classifications refer to the length of the molecules.
- In common nutrition speak, carbs are largely divided into Simple and Complex Carbohydrates. The two classifications refer to the length of the carbohydrate molecules.
- The shorter the molecule chain is, the easier it is for your body to break down, so it’s “simpler”—basically, they’re sugars.
- On the other hand, larger molecules, like starch, are “complex” because it takes longer for your body to break it down into usable components.
- The Scientific definition of Fats is “a wide group of compounds that are generally soluble in organic solvents and generally insoluble in water”.
- Fats are an essential part of a healthy diet and help by improving brain development, overall cell functioning, protecting the body’s organs and even helping you absorb vitamins found in foods.
- There are a lot of different types of fats, such as polyunsaturated fat, monounsaturated fat, saturated fat and trans fat.
- As you could see, fat contains the double of calories as proteins and carbs usually do, which is why low-fat diets usually work.
- There are three types of fat you should be worried about: Trans-Fat, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Omega-6 Fatty Acids.
- Trans-Fats, have been consistently shown to increase the risk of coronary heart disease, and should generally be avoided. They’re usually found in various brands of margarine.
- The last two are essential to you, and your body cannot produce by himself. That’s why you need to obtain them through your diet. They can be found in fish, walnuts and pretty much all kinds of vegetable oil.