What are macronutrients?
Macronutrients are the cornerstones of your diet. Key macronutrients our bodies need are :
Macronutrients constitute the bulk of the diet and supply energy and many essential nutrients. Carbohydrates, proteins (including essential amino acids), fats (including essential fatty acids), macrominerals, and water are macronutrients. Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are interchangeable as sources of energy; fats yield 9 kcal/g, proteins and carbohydrates yield 4 kcal/g.
Carbohydrates – or carbs – are the body’s primary fuel. They provide energy for your muscles and the central nervous system during movement and exercise. Carbohydrates increase blood glucose levels, supplying energy.
There are two different types of carbohydrates :
Glucose and sucrose are simple carbohydrates; starches and fiber are complex carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates with a high glycemic index aka simple carbs may increase plasma glucose to high levels rapidly. It is hypothesized that as a result, insulin levels increase, inducing hypoglycemia and hunger, which tends to lead to consumption of excess calories and weight gain.
Carbohydrates with a low glycemic index aka complex carbs increase plasma glucose levels slowly, resulting in lower postprandial insulin levels and less hunger, which probably makes consumption of excess calories less likely. These effects are predicted to result in a more favorable lipid profile and a decreased risk of obesity, daibetes, mellitus and complications of diabetes if present.
Dietary proteins are broken down into peptides and amino acids. Proteins are required for tissue maintenance, replacement, function, and growth. The weight-adjusted requirement for dietary protein correlates with growth rate, which decreases from infancy until adulthood.
Fats are required for tissue growth and hormone production.
There are three type of fats:
Saturated fats are common in animal fats and tend to be solid at room temperature. Fats derived from plants tend to be liquid at room temperature; these fats contain high levels of monounsaturated fats or polyunsaturated fats.
Partial hydrogenation of unsaturated fats (as occurs during food manufacturing) produces trans fats, which are solid or semisolid at room temperature. In the US, the main dietary source of trans fats is partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, used in manufacturing certain foods (eg, cookies, crackers, chips) to prolong shelf-life. Trans fats may elevate LDL cholesterol and lower HDL; they may also independently increase the risk of coronary artery disease.
Essential Fatty Acid( EFA) are
Linoleic acid, an omega-6 (n-6) fatty acid
Linolenic acid, an omega-3 (n-3) fatty acid
Consumption of omega-3 fatty acids may decrease the risk of coronary artery disease.
Oils made from safflower, sunflower, corn, soy, primrose, pumpkin, and wheat germ provide large amounts of linoleic acid. Marine fish oils and oils made from flaxseeds, pumpkin, soy, and canola provide large amounts of linolenic acid. Marine fish oils also provide some other omega-3 fatty acids in large amounts.
A recent trend in weight loss is counting macronutrients.
Counting macronutrients is similar to counting calories but differs in that it considers where the calories come from.
Calorie Intake Matters More Than Macronutrient Ratio for Fat Loss
When it comes to losing fat, how much you eat matters more than the amounts of carbs, fat and protein in your food.
Research shows that you can lose fat regardless of your macronutrient ratio. Moreover, different macronutrient ratios do not significantly affect how much total fat you lose in the long run.
Calories Don’t Explain the Whole Story
A calorie measures the amount of energy a particular food or beverage contains. Whether from carbs, fats or proteins, one dietary calorie contains approximately 4.2 joules of energy.
Food and its macronutrient composition can influence how hungry or full you feel, your metabolic rate, brain activity and hormonal response. So, while 100 calories of broccoli and 100 calories of doughnuts contain the same amount of energy, they affect your body and food choices much differently.
Four cups (340 grams) of broccoli have 100 calories and pack eight grams of fiber. Conversely, just one-half of a medium-sized glazed doughnut provides 100 calories, largely from refined carbs and fats.
Now imagine eating four cups of broccoli in one sitting. Not only would it take a lot of time and effort to chew, but its high fiber content would leave you feeling much fuller than eating one-half of a doughnut, in which case you will most likely eat the other half.
As a result, a calorie is not just a calorie. You should also focus on diet quality to increase dietary adherence and fat loss.
Calories supply your body with the same amount of energy. However, they differ in how they affect your health and ability to stay on track with your diet.
To lose weight, you must create a calorie deficit by eating fewer calories than you burn.
By doing so, you force your body to draw energy from its current stores (body fat) regardless of the carb, fat and protein makeup of your diet.
Once you create a calorie deficit, it’s important to account for the types of foods you’re eating as some are more diet-friendly and nutritious than others.
Here are some foods and macronutrients to focus on along with some to limit.
Choose Nutrient-Dense Foods
Foods that are nutrient dense contain high levels of nutrients but are relatively low in calories.
Nutrient-dense foods pack fiber, lean protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and other beneficial compounds like phytochemicals.
These include foods like dairy, beans, legumes,whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean meats and fish.
Many of these foods are also rich in fiber and contain a high percentage of water. Water and fiber help increase feelings of fullness, which can help you eat fewer total calories throughout the day.
Consume High-Protein Foods
Protein promotes feelings of fullness, spares muscle loss and has the highest thermic effect, meaning it takes more calories to digest compared to carbs or fats.
Look for lean animal-based sources like meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy. You can also get your protein from plant based sources like soy, grains and certain vegetables, including green peas.
Protein shakes or meal-replacement beverages are also a good option in between meals or in place of a meal to increase protein intake.
Limit Fat and High-Carb Foods
Just as some foods can benefit your weight loss goals, others can sabotage them.
Foods that contain both fats and carbs stimulate the reward center in your brain and increase your cravings, which can lead to overeating and weight gain.
Doughnuts, pizza, cookies, crackers, potato chips and other highly processed snacks contain this addictive combination of fats and carbs.
Independently, carbs or fats don’t have addictive qualities, but together they can be hard to resist.The foods you eat can impact your fat loss efforts. Consume foods that are nutrient-dense and high in protein but limit foods that contain a combination of carbs and fats, as this combo makes them addictive.
The Best Macronutrient Ratio Is the One You Can Stick To
While the macronutrient ratio of your diet may not directly influence fat loss, it can affect your ability to adhere to a reduced-calorie diet.
This is important, as studies have shown that the single greatest predictor of weight loss is adherence to a reduced-calorie diet.
Diets commonly fail because people can’t stick with them for long periods. Therefore, it’s important to follow a reduced-calorie diet that fits your preferences, lifestyle and goals.
The Bottom Line
Macronutrients refer to carbs, fats and protein — the three basic components of every diet.
Your macronutrient ratio doesn’t directly influence weight loss.
The acceptable macronutrient distribution ranges (AMDR) are 45–65% of your daily calories from carbs, 20–35% from fats and 10–35% from protein.
To lose weight, find a ratio you can stick with, focus on healthy foods and EAT FEWER CALORIES THAN YOU BURN.
Sources : Healthline.com / Merck Manual