Updated: Jan 9, 2022
Macronutrients provide the body with energy (calories/kilojoules), which we require in relatively large amounts (grams).
Three essential nutrients fall under the umbrella of this term, which includes carbohydrates, protein and fat. Each macronutrient offers its own unique set of functions and properties which influence our health. Thus, it's essential to consume enough of each for optimal health, performance and recovery.
At times, people will manipulate their macronutrient intake to suit specific ratios in the hope of reaching certain goals, e.g. someone may drastically reduce their carbohydrate intake to reduce body fat. However, if not done correctly, this could then have adverse effects on other areas of health.
Macronutrients roles and functions:
Carbohydrates are the body's prominent and preferred energy source. They fuel the body for physical activity, spare protein (which preserves muscle mass), and fuel the central nervous system (your brain). Did you know that your brain requires 120g each day to function efficiently? It's important to remember that carbohydrates are present in a variety of foods. Instead of cutting them from your diet completely, choose nutrient-dense sources such as whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
Protein is involved in an extensive range of functions within the body. The most commonly known role would be that of muscle growth and repair. However, it's also involved in fluid balance, hormones, enzymes and immune function. The good news is, we typically consume more than enough protein to meet our individual needs. In addition, protein is abundant in a wide range of food sources, not just those commonly associated with this nutrient. While you may automatically default animal products such as meat to protein, there are vastly more protein-containing foods such as legumes, eggs, nuts, seeds, grains, and even vegetables contain small amounts.
Fat is essential in supporting cell growth, absorbing key nutrients and is also involved in hormone production. Fat is certainly a vital aspect of a healthy diet, but it's essential to choose the health-promoting kinds. Good sources of fats can include foods such as extra-virgin olive oil, unsalted nuts and seeds, and avocado.
Most foods contain a combination of macronutrients; this is why it's important to focus on consuming the recommended number of servings of each food group every day. With this, you'll naturally consume enough of each macronutrient to promote optimal health and wellbeing.