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The Three Primary Macronutrients and Their Importance

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The three macronutrients of protein, fat, and carbohydrates all perform essential roles in the human body. Macronutrients are the main components of our diet. Our bodies require others nutrients as well, such as vitamins and minerals. However, these are needed in much smaller quantities, and thus are referred to as micronutrients. All three macronutrients are needed in the diet, as each perform vital functions in the body.

1. Protein

Protein should consist of about 10 to 35 percent of your diet. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. They are linked together in complex formations. There are 20 different amino acids, 9 of which are considered essential because our bodies cannot produce them naturally, and therefore they must be obtained through the diet. Proteins that contain all 20 amino acids are called complete proteins. Complete proteins are found in animal products such as meat, eggs and milk.

Proteins crucial role in the body includes building, maintaining and repairing body tissue. It is especially important to physically active individuals whose muscle tissue is constantly in need of repair. Protein has other roles in the body. All enzymes and hormones, which perform vital functions, are proteins. In addition, proteins are used to aid in the immune process.

2. Fat

The misconception about fat is that it is always bad for you. In fact, fat is essential for maintaining a healthy body. Your diet should consist of about 20 percent fat. The trick is to eat more of the good fats and less of the bad fats. Saturated and trans fats should be avoided while increases levels of unsaturated and the essential fatty acids, such as omega 3 and omega 6, can be good for you. Replacing sweets and high fat meats with foods such as nuts, avocados, and olive oil will help shift the balance away from unhealthy towards those fats that are useful to the body.

Fat has many roles in the human body. One of fats main functions is protection. This includes insulation to keep body temperature and cushioning to protect body organs. It also promotes growth and development, as well as maintaining cell membranes. Fat, in addition, plays a vital role in the digestion of vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluble vitamins, meaning they need fat in order to be absorbed into the body.

3. Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the main energy source of the body. They are chains of small, simple sugars that are broken down and enter the body as glucose. Glucose is essential for the body, as it is the preferred source of energy in our brain, heart and central nervous system. For this reason, your diet should consist of at least 45 to 65 percent carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are found in many foods. However, you should stay away from sweet foods with excess sugar. Instead, opt for healthier options like fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts, as well as whole grains. These foods also contain fiber. Fiber cannot be digested by you body. However, fiber aids our intestine in expelling waste and can help lower cholesterol.

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