What are calories? What are macronutrients? If you’re lost when you hear these terms, read on to learn some essential basics about nutrition.
Food is simple. You fry up a steak, bake some potatoes, whip up a salad, and you’re done. But what is food, anyway? Why do we even need to eat? Well, if you look at food close enough, you’ll see that it’s all made up out of tiny compounds that organisms need to survive and grow. But while food consists of lots of compounds, the basics are still quite easy to understand. In this blog, I want to start simple and tell you about calories and macronutrients.
What Are Macronutrients?
Food consists of a variety of components (nutrients). Some of these, like fat, protein and vitamins, are organic, while minerals and water are inorganic nutrients. Proteins, fat and carbohydrates are called macronutrients – we need these in large quantities to provide us with the energy (calories) we need. Let’s break it down.
What Are Calories?
A calorie is not a compound, but a unit of energy. In nutrition, calories are often used to measure energy density in food. Any nutritious food provides you with energy, and thus contains calories! Different macronutrients provide us with different levels of energy. Carbs and proteins provide 4 calories per gram, while fat provides 9 calories per gram.
What Are Carbs?
Carbohydrates are the body’s prime source of energy. You need carbs to keep your body running in top shape. There are two types of carbs: simple carbs (sugars) and complex carbs (starch). Try to eat complex carbs and avoid simple carbs. So instead of cereals, eat oatmeal or muesli, for example.
What is Fat?
Fat is an essential nutrient for the body. It helps to provide energy, absorb fat-soluble vitamins, maintain body temperature, protect the organs, and much more. Healthy sources of fat are eggs, avocados, olive oil, nuts, and fatty fish. All sources of fat contain saturated and unsaturated fat, though the ratio can differ. Products with low levels of saturated fat are better for your health. Saturated fat increases the risk of heart and coronary disease, while unsaturated fat can lower the risk.
What is Protein?
Proteins are building blocks for our bodies – they’re everywhere and are responsible for the growth and maintenance of our muscles, but also for hormone production, hair growth and much more. Every diet should contain plenty of protein to keep the body working in good order. Great sources of protein are meat and fish. Vegetarian options are rice and beans, soy, quinoa, seitan, quorn and nuts. Protein is very satiating compared to fats or carbs, meaning it’ll fill you up quicker. If you are looking to build muscle, you’re going to need more protein than normal. After all, you can’t build a wall without bricks. Try to eat at least 1.5 grams of proteins per pound of bodyweight.
As you can see, your body needs all kinds of nutrients to remain healthy and fit. You need carbs to give you energy, proteins to maintain your muscle, and fats to help with nutrient absorption. This is why every healthy diet is based on a certain balance between macronutrients. Are you having trouble finding your balance? You might want to try making a nutrition plan.
That's an article from virtuagym.com, that I found quite helpful.
Thanks so much. ☺