Nutrition Guide 101: Protein, Fats and Carbohydrates
Use this nutrition guide to start understanding the macronutrients.
Macronutrients: the nutrients that provide calories or energy needed for growth, development, metabolism and all body functions. Macro means large therefore macronutrients are the nutrients we need in the largest amounts.
The 3 main macronutrients are: Protein
Calories: Each macronutrient provides different calories Protein = 4 calorie/gram Carbohydrate = 4 calorie/gram Fat = 9 calorie/gram
Alcohol provides 7 calories/gram but it is not considered a macronutrient because it is not needed for survival.
Needed in largest amount (50-60% of daily calories)
Basic form of carbohydrate used by the body is glucose (blood sugar)
Glucose is stored by the body in the form of glycogen
Carbohydrates are found in plant foods only with the exception of lactose (sugar in milk)
Carbohydrates make up all fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds
Used by the body for energy
Fiber is a form of carbohydrate but is not digested or absorbed by the body. Instead it is used to keep our digestive track healthy by forming and eliminating waste from the body
Whole grain vs. refined Whole grains are foods that have not been significantly altered from their state they occur in nature. i.e white rice versus brown rice.
Refined grain have most of the nutritional parts removed and are therefore enriched, or re-fortified
Simple versus complex Simple sugars are those that have 2 or less molecules of glucose linked together. Simple sugars include:
o Glucose – blood sugar o Fructose – sugar in fruit and honey o Galactose o Maltose o Sucrose – table sugar o Lactose – milk sugar Complex sugars have more than 2 molecules of glucose linked together. Complex carbohydrates include:
o Starches – potatoes, cereals, grains, corn, peas
o Fiber – legumes, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, tomatoes, etc
Foods such as fruit contain both simple and complex carbohydrates. They contain fructose which is the simple sugar that cause them to taste sweet and they contain complex carbohydrates, the fiber, that gives them peels and form/structure.
Fiber is the structural part of the plant that we cannot digest. We need fiber for: Promote healthy gut flora (healthy bacteria in the large intestine)
Reduce risk of colon cancer
Help maintain healthy body weight
Control blood sugar
Diets low in Fiber have a risk for: Constipation
Soluble versus insolubleSoluble fiber (fruit/oats) is soluble in water meaning in absorbs water as it goes through the digestive track. This adds bulk to your stool.
Insoluble fiber (vegetables/grains) is insoluble in water meaning it does not absorb water as it goes through the digestive track. This speeds elimination time through the system.
Fiber recommendations: 35gms/day
Fats are the second macronutrient in this nutrition guide.Needs: 20-30% of daily caloric intake
Fat is needed by the body for: Normal growth and development
Absorption of fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K)
Provides cushioning for organs
Maintains cell membranes
Insulates the body and protects it from shock
Used to make hormones
Stored by the body as adipose tissue
Fat is found in meat, poultry, nuts, dairy, tropical fruits, butter/margarine, oils, lard, fish, and grains.
3 forms of fat: Saturated – found mostly in animal products, solid at room temperature (butter, skin on meats, beef fat)
Unsaturated – found mostly in plant products (oils)
Trans-fats – unsaturated fats that have been hydrogenated to turn them into a form more similar to saturated (i.e margarine)
Over consumption of fat leads to: Obesity
Elevated cholesterol and triglycerides
Fatty liver disease
Protein finishes the macronutrients for this nutrition guide.
Needs: 10-15% of daily caloric intake
Needed by the body for: Growth (especially children, pregnant women)
Making of hormones and enzymes
Regulate fluid balance and pH balance
Energy when carbohydrate is not available
Preserving lean muscle mass
Animal versus plant proteinAnimal protein provides:
B vitamins, especially B12
Does not contain fiber
Can be high in saturated fat and cholesterol
Plant protein provides: Iron but a less digestible form than animal
Does not contain B12
Plant protein comes from nuts, beans, legumes, soy, and whole grains
Use this nutrition guide and you will be on your way to better health and aging.
© Integrative Nutrition11/09
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