Macronutriemts, Micronutrients… ever hear of them? So check this out, your body has the amazing ability to take the foods you eat and literally turn them into you. Pretty cool don’t you think! Whether you eat an apple, a steak or a kale salad, your body is able to break that food down into its chemical parts and reassemble those parts into your cells and the energy you use all day. This is flat out awesome considering outside the plant and animal kingdom, nothing else can do that!
Here is the deal though, your body is only as amazing as the material it has to work with, like a fine tuned machine, the quality of the food you put into your amazing body has a huge impact on your overall health. An apple is not just an apple, nor is a steak just a steak. As stated above, your body is able to break those foods down into their chemical parts, like macronutrients and micronutrients. So what makes these nutrients so important, lets take a closer look!
What Are Macronutrients:
Macronutrients are nutrients that provide calories or energy. Derived from the prefix makro (Greek), which means big or large, used because macronutrients are required in large amounts. There are three broad classes of macro-nutrients which make up your primary food sources know as proteins,carbohydrates and fats.
The main function of macronutrients is to provide energy, counted as calories. While each of the macronutrients provides calories, the amount provided by each varies. Carbohydrates provides four calories per gram (I think we are all pretty well versed here),proteins;also four, while fats provides nine calories per gram.
Macronutrients also have specific roles in maintaining the body and contribute to the taste, texture and appearance of foods, which helps to make the diet more varied and enjoyable.
Macronutrients broken down:
- Carbohydrates – are required for energy. As diabetics we all have varying opinions on carbohydrates and the amounts that we like to ingest , but glucose, which is a monosaccharide, is the most essential source of energy in the body. The brain works entirely on glucose alone. When an immediate source of energy is required, glucose is converted into glycogen which is stored in the liver. When energy is needed it is converted into glucose again and used to release energy. Carbohydrates provide 4 calories of energy per gram.
- Fats – have the highest caloric content. This means they provide the largest amount of energy when burnt. When measured by a calorimeter, fats provide about 9 calories per gram, making them twice as energy-rich than protein and carbohydrates. Extra fat is stored in adipose tissue and is burnt when the body has run out of carbohydrates. Fat is also needed to take up fat-soluble vitamins.
- Proteins– are the third and last source of energy. They are the last to be used of all macronutrients. In cases of extreme starvation, the muscles in the body, that are made up of proteins, are used to provide energy. This is called muscle wasting. Proteins also provide 4 calories per gram.
Health Benefits Of Micronutrients:
Micronutrients are nutrients required by humans in small quantities to orchestrate a whole range of physiological functions; functions from bone growth to brain function. The are extremely important to get into our diets as we are unable to produce them on our own.
Micronutrients are what are commonly referred to as vitamins and minerals and include such things such as fluoride, selenium, sodium, iodine, copper and zinc. They also include vitamins such as vitamin C, A, D, E and K, as well as the B-complex vitamins (great for energy).
Micronutrients are vital to the proper functioning of all of your body’s systems. Sodium, for example is responsible for maintaining the proper fluid balance in your body and it helps fluids pass through cell walls and helps regulate appropriate pH levels in your blood.
- Manganese promotes bone formation and energy production, and helps your body metabolize the macronutrients, protein, carbohydrate and fat.
- Magnesium: Magnesium has so many amazing benefits for the human body, most importantly, it helps your heart maintain its normal rhythm not to mention it helps your body convert your blood sugar into energy and it is necessary for the metabolization of the micronutrients calcium and vitamin C.
- Iron helps your body produce red blood cells and lymphocytes.
- Iodine helps your thyroid gland develop and function. It helps your body to metabolize fats, and promotes energy production and growth.
- Chloride helps regulate water and electrolytes within your cells, as well as helping to maintain appropriate cellular pH.
Focusing on eating healthfully-raised animals like grass-fed cows and free range chickens will ensure that the meat you feed your family was ethically raised. Not only will it have fewer antibiotics and hormones, it ensures that you and your family are building your bodies with the best possible nutrition. As for the USDA macronutrient recommendations, click here, and you will also be able to find a list of micronutrients here.
When it comes to calculating macronutrients and getting the proper amount into your diet here is formula that contains a 20, 35, 45 split for fats, proteins and carbohydrates.
Here’s how you calculate macros: use the target number of calories, and plug it into these formulas. Let’s say your target is 1,400 calories/day — this is how that number looks plugged into the equations.
- (.20) x 1,400 = 280 kcal / 9 (since there are 9 calories in every gram fat) = 31 grams of fat per day
- (.35) x 1,400 = 490 kcal / 4 (4 calories per gram of protein) = about 123 grams of protein per day
- (.45) x 1,400 = 630 kcal / 4 (4 calories per gram of carbohydrates) = about 158 grams of carbohydrates per day
Example total macro targets for the day: 31 grams of fat, 123 grams of protein, 158 grams of carbohydrates. That’s a low fat, very high protein diet. Or if your looking for an easier way, here is an easy calculator that you can use based on your age, gender and weight.
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