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What are Macronutrients?

Macronutrients are three essential nutrients that our bodies need. All three are important for the body to function properly and none of them are better or worse than the other. The term “macro” literally translates to “large scale.” This means these are nutrients that need to be consumed in large amounts, unlike micronutrients (vitamins & minerals), which need to be consumed in smaller amounts. The three macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Each of these nutrients work together to ensure proper functionality of the body.

Carbohydrates provide the body with most of its energy. The brain can only get its energy from carbohydrates. They consist of fibers, starches, and sugars which can be found in bread, grains, vegetables, and fruit. Not only do carbohydrates provide the body with energy, but it also aids in thyroid function, digestion, and fueling one’s activity as well as aiding in recovery.

Fats help the body digest and absorb vitamins and minerals. They also play a big role in storing vitamins, like vitamin D, in the body. Fats also assist in hormonal health, satiating the body, and regulating temperature. Sources of fats include nuts, seeds, oil, olives, and avocados.

Last but not least, proteins. Protein is necessary for the structure and stability of our cells and body. While they can be a source of energy, their main purpose is to regulate the growth and maintenance of the body. They help the body recover from overexertion and transport different molecules from one end of the body to the other. There are a lot of sources of protein. Examples are fish, poultry, beans, dairy products, soy products, legumes, and plants.

How much of each macronutrients should a person get? The true answer is that it depends on the person. For example an athlete will need macronutrients in bigger amounts compared to someone who moderately exercises a few times a week. It also depends on each person individually and their health status. A registered dietitian can help you establish the amounts that are right for you.