Today’s guest post comes from Monica Nichols…see her bio at the end of post!
The two most-used terms in nutrition nowadays are probably micronutrients and macronutrients. And it’s no surprise, since they’re one of the most important aspects of building a healthy diet and promoting a healthy lifestyle. When you know a sufficient amount about micro and macronutrients, it becomes much easier to plan a perfect meal that will give your body everything that it requires on a daily basis. Simply put, a “nutrient” is any organic or inorganic molecule that the body requires in order to properly maintain all the processes inside of our cells. It could be a vitamin, a protein or just about anything else. One of the most popular classifications of nutrients is based on how much of them our body needs. Hence, we get the following classification comprising of macronutrients (molecules that our bodies need a lot of) and micronutrients (those that we need in smaller quantities).
This article is going to be a quick guide to the most basic macro and micronutrients, precisely why our bodies require them and why it’s a really bad idea to let yourself become deficient in any of them.
As I already mentioned, macronutrients are molecules that our bodies require in large quantities. There are three types of macronutrients out there: proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates (or carbs, as they’re regularly abbreviated) have a singular function within our organism – to provide energy. When food that contains carbohydrates is ingested, these molecules are metabolized into a more simple form of sugar called glucose. Glucose is incredibly important in our bodies, as it is the bread and butter of our body’s energy supply. Our brain needs it in ample doses to keep functioning properly, which is why people on low-carb diets can sometimes feel that their mental functions are somewhat impaired – their brains simply don’t have enough glucose to continue operating at 100% efficiency.
Carbs are somewhat of a double-edged sword, however; because they’re almost pure energy, over the centuries our bodies have adapted to respond really well to them by releasing large amounts of the feel-good hormone dopamine into our bloodstream. In other words, carbs are always welcome in our bodies and we don’t always know when we’ve had enough, which means that it’s really easy to overeat with carbs – much more so than with fats and proteins.