We have been told time and time again that it’s important to maintain a balanced diet. And an important part of any balanced diet is maintaining an appropriate intake of macronutrients better known to most of us as carbohydrates, protein, fats, fiber, and water. These nutrients are important to our diets because they provide our bodies with calories or energy. Macronutrients are necessary for growth, metabolism, and other body functions. The following is a breakdown of each macronutrient and why it is an important part of a balanced diet. A list of foods that contain macronutrients can be found here.
When taking all the macronutrients into consideration, we need carbohydrates in the largest amount. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for our bodies. Our body uses carbohydrates to make glucose. Our bodies can are then able to either use the glucose immediately or store it in the liver and muscles until it is needed.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, with 20 different amino acids joining together to make all the different types of protein. Our bodies are unable to produce some amino acids so it is vital that we get these through our diet. The amino acids that must be provided through diet are known as essential amino acids.
Every cell, tissue, and organ in our bodies has protein in its composition. Protein is therefore a requirement for tissue maintenance, replacement, function, and growth. Protein also provides our bodies with a source of energy when energy from carbohydrates isn’t available.
Too much fat in a diet is unhealthy but some is necessary for our bodies to properly function. Fat is needed for normal growth and development. It is also the most concentrated source of energy and is necessary for the absorption of certain vitamins (fat-soluble). Fat also provides cushioning for our internal organs and helps maintain cell membranes.
Dietary fiber is a form of carbohydrate. It helps to maintain weight by adding bulk to our diets, making us feel full faster. It also aids in digestion and helps to prevent constipation.
Our bodies are largely comprised of water, making it an essential part of our diets. Water intake is necessary to replace what is lost through everyday functions, such as perspiration and the elimination of waste through urination and bowel movements. Water is necessary to regulate body temperature, lubricates and cushions our joints, and protects the spinal cord.
It is important to remember the importance of maintaining a balanced diet so that our bodies are able to function properly. When communicating about the components of a balanced diet it is important to remember to include macronutrients. Educating about the benefits of each macronutrient may influence people to add more of them to diets instead of eliminating them.