What Are Macronutrients and Why Are They Important?
By Brittany L.
Strength and conditioning can only get you so far in your attempt to lose fat and gain muscle mass. The rest of the work is done through proper nutrition, that is, through fueling your body in the most efficient way possible. Proper nutrition plays just as an important role as exercise, if not more so. The energy we provide our bodies needs to support muscle gain which, in turn, will burn fat.
The body requires three main macronutrients: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. The term “macronutrients” simply means the body needs these nutrients in large amounts.
Protein is used by the body to build, repair and maintain muscle tissue. Our bodies do not have a storage for extra protein, like they do for fats and carbohydrates. It is, therefore, imperative to consume protein throughout the day to provide our body the necessary amino acids needed to restore and rebuild the muscles that we, essentially, are breaking down during our training. If we do not consume the proper amount of protein, our body will begin to eat its own muscle tissue to provide itself with the adequate amount of amino acids it needs to function. That ultimately works against our goal of building muscle, because when this happens, we will actually be losing muscle.
Working out without proper protein will not provide our bodies with the nutrients necessary to restore our muscles after a workout, so it is necessary to eat a portion of protein in every meal throughout the day—ideally—five to six smaller meals a day. It is also necessary to adjust protein intake to the amount of physical exercise one does. Do note, however, that extra protein does not equal extra strength.
Contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates are necessary for the body’s natural functions, and they play an important role when trying to build muscle and lose fat. Many have heard and believe that carbs are the reason that people gain weight or cannot lose weight. That isn’t true.
Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of fuel. They provide the energy necessary for intense workouts. The body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, which is either directly consumed by your cells for energy or stored in the muscles for later use as glycogen.
When working out, your body uses the glycogen stored in the muscle tissue for energy to power through workouts. The energy then becomes depleted after intense exercise, and it is necessary to take in carbs to fill your muscles once again with glycogen. In order for proteins to be used by the body for structural and hormonal properties, they need carbohydrates. By depriving yourself of carbohydrates, your body will convert to using protein as its source of fuel, which would then reduce your muscle mass. To maintain muscle mass, therefore, you must allow your body to use carbohydrates as its primary source of fuel.
The third macronutrient is fat, (lipids). Like carbohydrates, fats are generally misunderstood; many people think they are unnecessary in our diets. For healthy adults, 20 to 35 percent of daily calories should come from dietary fats. Yes, there are good fats and bad fats.
Unsaturated fats are Omega 3s and are invaluable for healthy joints and heart. Saturated fats are long-chain fatty acids found in butter, animal fats and milk products, and are good for health but in only a limited quantity. Trans fats are the fats that are most harmful to your health. They are man-made and are never good for your diet. When you eat less than the recommended allowance of fat, you have lower levels of adiponectin, which is a fat burning hormone that works to increase your metabolism and the rate at which you burn fats. Ultimately, to burn fats you need to eat fats. Adiponectin is also needed to build and support cell membranes. In addition, fats in moderation provide that “full” and “satiated” feeling we need after eating to prevent us from eating more. Subsequently, by eating fats we should be eating less volume and fewer calories. Eat good fats to remain healthy and build muscle.
With all that said, macronutrients play an important role in how your body builds and restores muscle. Overall, your moderated intake of macronutrients provides your body with the proper energy stores and substrates necessary to burn energy and build muscle efficiently.
During a four-year tour of duty with the United States Army where she worked as a combat engineer constructing bridges, Brittany received the “Soldier of the Year” award for her unit, two consecutive years in a row–an award given to soldiers for outstanding excellence among their peers. Afterwards, she decided to pursue her passion in the health and wellness field.
Brittany is no stranger to competitive sports, as she was a collegiate athlete when she attended Eastern Connecticut State University. Being an athlete all her life, Brittany has experienced injury and has learned the vital role that proper training plays in the success of an individual’s physical performance and mental aptitude.
As a recreational supervisor’s aid, Brittany designed and instructed numerous personal training circuits that were able to be form-fitted for each individual’s needs and desires. She has trained not only athletes, but also, those individuals who seek personal training as a means to improve their health and wellness.
Intrigued by the substantial benefits of physical exercise and proper nutrition on a person’s mental stability, emotional intelligence and overall happiness, Brittany endeavored to become a certified yoga and meditation instructor. As a practitioner of high intensity workouts, she also uses her knowledge and experience as a yoga instructor to build and strengthen muscle while also toning and revitalizing.
Brittany, is in the process of obtaining additional certifications and a more in-depth knowledge of the health & wellness field to maximize her ability to help every individual achieve their own optimal health through a holistic approach. As a means to touch the lives of as many people as possible, she also speaks Spanish.