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Have you heard of “macronutrients” or “macros” in relation to nutrition and health? What are they, and why are they important for your well-being?
Macronutrients are the nutrients that your body needs in large amounts to provide energy, support growth and maintenance, and regulate various bodily functions. There are three main types of macronutrients: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
Each macronutrient has a different role and function in the body, and each one also has a different impact on your health and weight. Therefore, it is important to understand the benefits and drawbacks of each macronutrient, and how to balance them in your diet. We will break each of them down in this article.
The Building Blocks of Life
Proteins are made up of smaller units called amino acids, which are essential for the formation and repair of tissues, organs, muscles, skin, hair, nails, hormones, enzymes, antibodies, and neurotransmitters. They also help maintain fluid and electrolyte balance, acid-base balance, and blood clotting.
Registered Dietician Jillian Kubala said there are 20 different amino acids, nine of which are considered essential, meaning that your body cannot produce them and you need to get them from food. The other 11 are non-essential, meaning that your body can make them from other amino acids.
What are the best sources of protein? Animal products, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy, because they contain all nine essential amino acids in the right proportions. However, you can also get protein from plant sources, such as beans, lentils, soy, nuts, seeds, and grains, as long as you combine them to get a complete set of amino acids.
A Harvard study states that the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day, or about 0.36 grams per pound. However, this is the minimum amount to prevent deficiency, and your protein needs may vary depending on your age, activity level, health status, and goals.
Take note that consuming too much protein can also have some drawbacks, such as increasing the risk of kidney stones, gout, dehydration, and calcium loss from bones. Therefore, it is important to balance your protein intake with other macronutrients, and to choose high-quality protein sources that are lean, low in saturated fat, and rich in other nutrients.
The Main Source of Energy
Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for your brain and muscles, and they also play a role in maintaining blood sugar levels, digestive health, and immune function. These are composed of smaller units called sugars, which can be classified into simple and complex carbohydrates.
- Simple carbohydrates are sugars that are quickly digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, causing a rapid rise and fall in blood sugar levels. They include glucose, fructose, sucrose, lactose, and maltose. Simple carbohydrates are found naturally in fruits, vegetables, milk, and honey, but they are also added to many processed foods, such as candies, cookies, cakes, sodas, and juices.
- Complex carbohydrates are sugars that are linked together in long chains, which take longer to digest and absorb, causing a more gradual and steady change in blood sugar levels. They include starch, glycogen, and fiber. Complex carbohydrates are found in whole grains, beans, legumes, potatoes, corn, and other starchy vegetables.
For carbohydrates, the recommended RDA is 130 grams per day, which is the minimum amount to meet the brain’s energy needs. However, the acceptable macronutrient distribution range (AMDR) for carbohydrates is 45% to 65% of total daily calories, which means that you can consume more or less carbohydrates depending on your preferences and goals.
While balancing your diet, make sure to consume enough carbohydrates to avoid fatigue, headaches, constipation, bad breath, and nutrient deficiencies.
The Secondary Source of Energy
Fats are the most concentrated source of energy, providing 9 calories per gram, compared to 4 calories per gram for proteins and carbohydrates. Fats also have many other functions in the body, such as forming cell membranes, producing hormones, absorbing fat-soluble vitamins, protecting organs, and regulating inflammation.
Fats can be classified into saturated and unsaturated fats, based on their chemical structure and effects on health.
- Saturated fats are fats that have no double bonds between their carbon atoms, making them solid at room temperature. They are mostly found in animal products, such as meat, butter, cheese, and cream, but also in some plant oils, such as coconut and palm oil. These tend to raise the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol, in the blood, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat intake to less than 10% of total daily calories, or about 22 grams per day for a 2,000-calorie diet.
- Unsaturated fats are fats that have one or more double bonds between their carbon atoms, making them liquid at room temperature. They are mostly found in plant oils, such as olive, canola, sunflower, and soybean oil, but also in some animal products, such as fatty fish, nuts, seeds, and avocados. These tend to lower the levels of LDL cholesterol, and raise the levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, or the “good” cholesterol, in the blood, which can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. The American Heart Association recommends replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids, which have additional anti-inflammatory and brain-protective benefits.
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for fats is not established, but the acceptable macronutrient distribution range (AMDR) for fats is 20% to 35% of total daily calories, which means that you can consume more or less fats depending on your preferences and goals.
However, consuming too much fat can also have some drawbacks, such as causing weight gain, digestive issues, and nutrient imbalances. Therefore, it is important to balance your fat intake with other macronutrients, and to choose high-quality fat sources that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol, and rich in other nutrients.
Balance Your Diet With a Nutrition Scale
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Go for a smart and innovative device that can help you measure and track your food intake and nutrition, like the RENPHO Calibra 1 Smart Nutrition Scale. It can break down your food into 23 nutrition facts, including the three essential macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. These macronutrients are vital for your health and well-being, as they provide energy, support growth and repair, and regulate various bodily functions.
You can easily monitor your macronutrient intake and balance your diet according to your goals and needs. Whether you want to lose weight, gain muscle, or maintain your health, you can customize your macronutrient ratio and portion size with the help of the RENPHO Health app. The app connects to the scale via Bluetooth and displays the nutritional information of your food on your smartphone. You can also scan barcodes, search the database, or create your own food entries to get accurate and comprehensive data.
The RENPHO Calibra 1 Smart Nutrition Scale is a simple and convenient way to improve your eating habits and achieve your health goals. It is easy to use, stylish to look at, and compatible with various devices and platforms. It is also a great gift idea for yourself or your loved ones who care about their health and wellness.
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