The Snack People’s Nutrition 101 blog series aims to teach readers about the basics of nutrition. Getting a grasp of certain topics allows you to make smarter food choices to help you perform better at work!
Macronutrients – what are they?
All the food we eat is made up of three compounds. These compounds are called macronutrients, or ‘macros’ and include protein, carbohydrate and fat. Each one has important roles in the body, and every food contains different amounts of each one. Our first blog post in this series talked about how to fuel your workday. Once you understand macronutrients, we hope the first blog will make even more sense! We are going to try and keep it as simple as possible and avoid using too many fancy words.
One of carbs’ main functions is to fuel your body for the day. Carbs can be simple or complex. Simple carbs can be found in the likes of sweets and chocolate while complex carbs are found in vegetables, rice and pasta.
Simple carbs can be beneficial however. Glucose, for example, is your brain’s main source of energy while fructose is commonly found in fruits. These types of sugars can be absorbed and used quickly by your body. Therefore, foods high in these carbohydrates are recommended directly before exercise.
There are also times when complex carbs are preferred as the sugars are released slowly and steadily into the bloodstream. This reduces the risk of a sugar crash!
Carbohydrate sources – fruits, vegetables, pasta, rice.
Protein’s roles include repairing and building muscles. It’s most commonly found in meat, eggs, tofu and milk. Protein is the main component of muscles, bones, skin and nails. As a result, they’re often called the building blocks of the body!
Protein has become synonymous with gym-goers and athletes due to its role in muscle repair and muscle building. When your body undergoes periods of intense exercise, your muscles and tissue actually become damaged and tiny tears occur in your muscles. Protein is the nutrient that repairs this damage and as a result, builds the muscle and makes it stronger!
Protein sources – milk, meats, eggs, tofu, lentils.
The third and final macronutrient is fat. Fat is an essential nutrient that we all need, don’t be afraid of it! The main functions of fat include healthy hormone function and providing energy for the body when not exercising. Much like carbohydrates, the body can store fat in its tissues and use it as energy later.
1g of fat provides 9 calories, compared to 4 calories for the same amount of protein or carbohydrates. Therefore, you don’t need to eat as much fat as the other two macronutrients to obtain the same amount of energy. Moreover, choosing the right type of fats are key! Opt for healthy fats found in eggs, nuts and avocados for the best results.
Fat sources – nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, oils, avocado, coconut, eggs.