Macronutrients

Macronutrient Quality

All three macronutrients serve important functions, and each vary in quality. Carbohydrates can be simple or complex, full of or lacking in nutrients, and can be composed of dense or diluted calories. Protein quality depends on amino acid completeness. Fats can be saturated, polyunsaturated, or monounsaturated, and may consist of essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6.

Carbohydrates

4 calories per gram.

The Good

Carbohydrate sources such as fruits and vegetables are very dense in vitamins and fiber. Carbs are also the body's preferred source of energy other than alcohol, especially for anaerobic and long-duration exercise.

Starchy complex carbohydrate sources such as potatoes and long-grain rice help replenish muscle glycogen stores. Muscle glycogen is used as fuel and depletes during strenuous exercise. Starchy foods also contain resistant starch, which resists digestion, functioning similarly to fiber. It is satiatingand promotes healthy gut microbiota.

Did you know?
Fiber is a carbohydrate.

Fiber helps keep you feel fuller longer, reduce appetite, and thus helps you consume less food. It also improves gastrointestinal health and reduces disease and blood pressure.

The Bad

Refined carbohydrate sources such as sugar and wheat- and corn-based products induce appetite cravings and contributes to body fat gains, cardiovascular disease, higher LDL cholesterol, higher triglycerides, and lowering HDL (good) cholesterol. Overconsumption of refined carbohydrates in combination with fats are the driving forces for the obesity epidemic.

Wheat, Corn, and Rice

While the idea of reducing grains is unconventionalin a Western diet, they are comparatively overratedsince plant and animal products are nutritionally denser. In addition, corn and wheat products are common sources of food intolerances. Rice however, due to its absence of inflammatory properties, is considered a neutral starchy grain.

Did you know?
Wheat, corn, and rice are grains while a potato is a vegetable. Like grains however, potatoes are considered a starchy carbohydrate source.

While grains are fair in fiber content, more fiber per calorie can be obtained from vegetables and fruits such as leafy greens, avocados, bell peppers, carrots, pears, apples, oranges, and bananas. Legumes are very high in fiber. Nuts and seeds are also good sources of fiber.

Did you know?
7 slices of whole wheat bread contain the same amount of dietary fiber as 1 avocado or 2 pears.

Fats

9 calories per gram.

The Good

Most foods that are naturally high in fat, such as animal sources (fish, beef, pork), nuts, avocados, and coconuts, contain an abundance of vitamins and minerals, as well as essential fatty acids required for body functioning and health. It is also a very good source of body fuel and contributes to weight loss. Crucial vitamins A, D, E, and K, are fat-soluble, which means fats are required for bioabsorption.

Did you know?
While vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble, vitamins B and C are water-soluble.

Monounsaturated and saturated fats from animal sources, eggs, butter, avocados, coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil are health-promoting.

While saturated fats have been controversial, they actually serve important body functions for bone, organ, brain, immune health, and weight loss. The French paradox is the phenomenon where high dietary cholesterol and saturated fat are correlated with low incidences of heart disease. Furthermore, diets high in fat have been shown to provide important benefits that protect against neurological losses that characterize Alzehimer's and Parkinson's. Not all saturated fats are the same, though. Although coconut oil is high in saturated fat, they are in the form of medium-chain triglycerides, mostly in the form of lauric acid, which raises good HDL cholesterol, which protects your heart.

While omega-3 fatty acids benefit health as an anti-inflammatory, not all omega-3s are the same. Walnuts and flaxseed are very high in ALA omega-3, but this is misleading. The body has to convert ALA. Only a small portion of ALA can be utilized to EPA and DHA, which are useful to the body. Seafood and fish oil are excellent sources of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids.

Did you know?
Fat is not satiating. In the context of junk food, large amounts of fat can be consumed. In animal products, it is the protein that aids satiety.

The Bad

Although fats are important for weight loss, they are high in energy density, compounded by fried foods and pastries.

The body functions well with an omega-3 and omega-6 ratio of 1:1 or 1:2. Most of us consume 1:15 or higher, which contributes to inflammationand oxidative stress, leading to a host of critical diseases. Sources high in omega-6 polyunsaturated fats are margarine, canola oil, and vegetable oil.

While saturated fats are beneficial on a low-carbohydrate diet, they are harmful when combined with refined carbohydrates, which comprise the staple of the standard North American diet.

Low-Fat Products

Try to opt for the high-fat dairy such as 3.75% or homogenized milk instead of the low-fat dairy such as 0% or skim milk. It is common in low-fat badgeed products that sugar is used as a substitute for fat. Without dietary fat (e.g. saturated or monounsaturated fat), the body becomes exposed to malnutrition since fats are needed to absorb crucial nutrients.

Proteins

4 calories per gram.

The Good

Protein is the most satiating macronutrient and is crucial for weight management. Proteins are the building blocks for muscle and is essential to sustain life.

The Bad

Proteins are poor fuels for energy.

Alcohol

7 calories per gram, however due to the thermic effect of food, it is actually 5.7 calories per gram.

The Good

Answers vary on the subject of intoxication.

The polyphenols in red wine have been shown to have protective effects on the cardiovascular system along with anti-cancer, antiviral and antiallergic properties.

Beer contains different but several nutrients as of wine, along with more B vitamins.

The Bad

The body will use alcohol as the primary source of fuel, putting body fat burning on hold until all of the alcohol has been metabolized.

Many alcoholic beverages contain sugar and many overindulge. Alcohol also lowers testosterone levels and is linked to cancer.

Those who are genetically predisposed to alcoholism or addiction should not consume any type of alcohol.


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