Macronutrients: Introduction

February 2, 2023

The beginning few months of the year are a popular time to talk about diet and nutrition. Afterall, many people make that new years’ resolution to lose a few pounds. You may have heard about these different diets: keto, paleo, carnivore, whole-food and plant based. For many of them the key differences comes down to what it promotes surrounding macronutrients.

Macronutrients are the main compounds that provide our bodies with energy. There are 3 main ones: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. It is important to note that all whole foods (ie ones you don’t open up out of a package) contain all three of these macronutrients, just in varying proportions. Within each category there are good versions and bad versions.

  1. Carbohydrates – primary energy source. Two primary types of carbohydrates:
    1. Total carbohydrates – all the carbs measured in that food
    2. Net carbohydrates – total carbs MINUS fiber
  2. Protein – major structural component of all cells in the body – important for brain health and muscle growth
  3. Fats:
    1. Unsaturated fat – good and healthy fats – typically found in veggies, nuts/seeds, and fatty fish
    2. Saturated fat – consider limiting/avoiding as they are highly inflammatory and can cause heart-health issues
    3. Trans fats – banned from the US FDA in 2018 – were often found in processed foods. Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil contains hidden trans fat.

Over the next three weeks, we will break down these macronutrients further and discuss your options to consider when assembling your own diet or picking a diet that is best for your needs (hint: there is no one-size fits all answer here!).