Macronutrients - Proteins, Carbs and Fats

What are they and what do they actually do for us?

What is Protein?

In a nut shell Proteins are biological molecules that are made up of a chain of ‘amino acids’. I always use the analogy of that if a brick wall was the protein, then the individual bricks would be the amino acids. Protein helps the growth and repair of pretty much everything in our body ranging from a broken nail to broken down muscle tissue. The structure of protein can vary depending on its amino acid chain and biological make-up; therefore we have different proteins which carry out different functions in our body depending on their structure. Some of the amino acid are considered ‘essential’ hence the term ‘essential amino acids’, these are amino acids that cannot be made by the human body therefore they must be consumed from an external source.  The 3 main amino acids to help support muscle repair and growth are Leucine, Iso-Leucine and Valine.

What are Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are your body’s primary source of energy and fuel. As with proteins, carbohydrates come in different forms depending on the source; sources of carbohydrates can range from foods such as bread, pasta, rice, potatoes and many more. The carbohydrate foods we consume can be broken down into 2 main categories; these categories are called refined and un-refined foods.  A refined carbohydrate is where the outer bran has been removed and left only with the endosperm as content; these are usually fast acting or in other words have a higher glycemic index. Un-refined carbohydrates have the outer bran present which provides a greater benefit to the human body. The outer bran provides the body with protein, antioxidants and is also a great source of fibre and is usually slower digesting or also known as Low GI Carbohydrates.

What are Fats?

Fats are another vital source of energy for our bodies. Fats are also the most calorie dense macronutrient out of the 3; each gram of Fat provides 9 k/cals as opposed to 4k/cals provided by either 1g of Carbohydrates or 1g of Protein. Fats are broken down into 2 sub categories; saturated and un-saturated. Saturated fats are usually in the form of solids i.e. butter, lard and cheese. Un-saturated fats are usually in the form of liquid; these types are usually considered much healthier fats and help with transportation of vitamins and EFA’s (Essential Fatty Acids). Un-saturated fats are also lower in LDL (bad cholesterol) and higher in HDL (good cholesterol). Fats also play a key role in regulating hormonal function. They are not to be avoided and misconstrued to actually make you put on body fat. Good fats should be a part of everyone’s every day diet

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