We depend on food to power to our body, build muscle, give us energy and help us feel good every day. But food can also work against us when not controlled or understood properly.
Our bodies are influenced by the quality of the foods we choose in our personal diet plans. Which is why understanding how different foods impact our body is of the utmost importance to our overall health, quality of life and functionality.
All food is made up of macronutrients. Macronutrients (or macros for short) are the specific tiny molecules that contain energy and nutrients to make up calories. Every type of food you eat can be broken down into three main groups that contain energy (aka calories).
Carbohydrates (1g carb = 4 calories)
Protein (1g Protein = 4 calories)
Fats (1g Fat = 9 calories)
Your body breaks down macronutrients and uses their nutrient density to create energy, build the body, create chemical reactions, support healthy functioning and help to release hormones. What we eat as part of healthy diet plans can positively or negatively impact the way we feel, perform, our mood and even our behavior.
Deeper Dive into Macronutrients
|CARBOHYDRATE||A source of energy, naturally occurring from sugars, starches and fiber in food. The body breaks carbs down into glucose to provide energy.|
Carbohydrates come in a variety of forms. Some are good for you. Some are bad. The bad ones are usually highly processed and could barely be considered food other than the fact that they’re edible. They may be delicious, but they’re also the source of many of our weight problems.
There are two types of carbohydrates:
Simple carbohydrates which can be easily broken down and can rapidly increase blood sugar includes fruits, some vegetables and milk. The added sugars in syrups, cookies and many other processed foods are also simple carbs. But these tend to be “empty calories” with little nutritional value, and they more easily lead to weight gain. These delicious treats are the source of many of our dieting problems.
Complex carbohydrates are made of more complex chains of sugars and take longer to digest, therefore having less impact on blood sugars. This includes foods such as rice, oatmeal, quinoa, starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn and carrots, non starchy vegetables, beans and legumes.
Both simple and complex carbohydrates are turned into glucose (blood sugar) in the body and are used as energy. Ultimately, it’s not the type of carbohydrate that really matters, but how quickly your body can break it down and how much it will spike your blood glucose levels. Choosing carbohydrates that will sustain your body longer is always the better carb option, Your body will burn through a candy bar much faster than a bowl of mixed vegetables.
The recommended carb intake per day generally depends on your goals and preferences. A common rubric might be something like this:
- 100–150 grams. This range is meant for weight maintenance or frequent high-intensity exercise. It gives room for plenty of fruit and even some starchy foods like potatoes.
- 50–100 grams. This range is intended for slow and steady weight loss or weight maintenance. There’s room for plenty of vegetables and fruit.
- Under 50 grams. This is geared toward fast weight loss. Eat plenty of vegetables but limit fruit intake to berries low on the glycemic index (GI).
|PROTEIN||Made up of amino acids, considered the building blocks of life. In every cell of the body, transport molecules through the body, repair cells, promote growth and development.|
Nine of the twenty or so amino acids (histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine) are known as essential amino acids because they come from food.
The amino acids obtained from protein are used in the growth and maintenance of all body tissues, to create enzymes needed in the thousands of different enzymatic reactions that take place in your body, as messengers between cells, and to create hormones.
Proteins build and repair tissue structure, regulate metabolism, help regulate the pH of our bodies, and more. They are also critical to building muscle and can help you feel full.
|FATS||Transports nutrients, absorbs vitamins, provides energy reserves, insulates the body and protects organs, slows digestion, provides food with flavor and texture. Consuming healthy fats keeps you fuller longer and aids in weight loss.|
Fat is the most calorie-rich macronutrient. Fat also has a misunderstood job. It breaks down into fatty acids to provide our body with energy. Popular culture says that fatty foods are a negative thing, but fat provides some major satisfaction factor to meals. Aside from being a rich source of energy, fat plays many essential roles in the body.
Dietary fat provides the body with essential fatty acids, structural compounds the body cannot make itself and can only obtain through food. Fat is also needed to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E and K. Fats are needed to create hormones, and also supports healthy skin and hair. They are also essential to brain health. Your brain is composed of 60% fat.
What Macronutrient is Best? Carbs, Fat or Protein?
The answer to this question depends on what your goal is. Each person has different goals from muscle building and bulking to losing weight. The macro math in our diet plans changes as our bodies and our goals change.
Each of the three macronutrients are essential. We don’t consider one macro to be better or more essential than another. We all need adequate amounts of fat, protein and carbohydrates for our body to function and feel its best.
What healthy diet plans look like can vary quite a bit, but they will all contain some combination of carbs, fat, and protein. Because each macronutrient plays different roles in the body and all are essential for the body to function, fat, protein and carbohydrates are all equally important.
But then there’s the question of what’s right for you. Different people with different bodies and different activity levels and different genetics thrive on different macronutrient balances. Some people may notice they feel better eating a dietary pattern that’s more carbohydrate rich, while others may notice they feel better eating meals that are more focused on proteins or fats. Some people may need to focus on different nutrients above others for a variety of reasons.
Many of our patients are specifically focused on weight loss. We work with each of our patients to create personalized diet plans with guidance on Macro tracking. When additional weight loss support is needed (through suppressant or peptide therapy such as AOD 6904) the key is to couple controlled diet with effective weight loss solutions.
One of our patients recently told us “I had been to three doctors before Kare and not one doctor could help me with weight loss or thyroid. Since coming to Kare, I have never felt better. Keri is easy to discuss issues with and she truly listens.”
If you’re ready to take control of your health and dig deeper into how food is fueling your body, reach out to Kare Health and Wellness in Springfield, Missouri at 417-881-4994.
Our goal is twofold: to improve your immediate health and prevent future health issues through functional medicine. We believe the proper foods are key to a long, happy life, which is why we offer nutrition education and holistic medical weight loss in Springfield Missouri for patients who want to look and feel their best – not deprived.