In our quest for health, we sometimes quickly jump into the next health food craze: Low fat! No fat! Low-carb! Vegetarian! Vegan! Gluten-free! Paleo! The information can be confusing at best. But, at the end of the day, we have some basic needs that we must fulfill. We have four macronutrients: water, proteins, carbs and fats. We need each one of them. Each macronutrient provides a significant amount of micronutrients and some of those micronutrients you just can’t obtain without their macronutrient.
For Instance: In recent years we have all been made very aware of the problems with a vit. D deficiency. Lowered immune system, depression, higher cancer risk, poor bone density and more. I just listed four pretty big issues and we are just talking about a single micronutrient. Now, take away an entire macronutrient, the cascade of issues increases exponentially. (For example: Reduce or eliminate your fat consumption and now you can no longer absorb vit. D since it is a fat-soluble vitamin.)
Some examples of the roles each macronutrient plays in the body:
- Transports nutrients
- Cushions bones and joints
- Regulates body temperature
- Flushes toxins
Proteins: Quite literally, building blocks for your body
- Enzymes – Enzymes are the managers and catalysts for all biochemical processes
- Antibodies – Help fight infection
- Hemoglobin – Red blood cells that carry oxygen
- Hormones – Regulate almost every function in the body
- Provide fuel for the brain
- Provide a quick source of energy for our muscles
- Help regulate protein and fat metabolism
- Provide a source of fiber to help eliminate wastes
- Provide a long-burning source of energy (think stamina)
- Building blocks of cell membranes and hormones
- Required for the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E & K
- Required for the adequate use of proteins
When discussing how to balance these macronutrients out, I like to think of proteins, fats and carbs being in an isosceles triangle filled in with water. Each one has unique and equally important roles in the body and when we significantly reduce or eliminate any one of these nutrients, we really throw some systems out of balance. Have you ever tried to go low-fat/no-fat? Did you ever find yourself needing a lot more carbohydrates, a lot more often?
When we eat in balance, it actually allows us to go longer without food and we can actually eat less. When we fuel ourselves with high-quality sources of each of the macronutrients, our body is better able to assimilate the nutrients and better able to regulate energy production. It actually saves us time and money to eat a nutrient-dense meal that is well balanced. Try starting your day tomorrow with some protein, veggies and some fat incorporated and see how it sets you up for the day.