Three macronutrients – three very different sets of roles – three irreplaceable and equally vital pieces to a balanced diet. Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are the primary building blocks of nutrition and encompass the key food groups that supply our bodies with the energy they need, enabling us to function at an optimal level. The main point here is that they work together – all three of them – to build, support, and fuel our bodies! Here’s a recap of just some of their individual importance before we dive into how they work in tandem for our every day lives:
- Provide the body with rapidly-utilized energy
- Needed for proper function of the central nervous sytem, kidneys, brain, muscles, and heart
- Readily stored in muscles and liver as glycogen for future use
- Promote gut health and better digestion because they contain fiber
- Improve mood and reduce stress by helping balance hormones
A key point: Whole food versions contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients you can’t get anywhere else.
- Provides long-lasting energy
- Supports the cell membrane, nerve function, and hormone production
- Needed for absorption and transport of certain vitamins in the body
- Insulates the body and keeps our skin healthy
A fun side note: Fat improves the texture and enhances the flavor, taste, and smell of food.
A key point: Without enough fat, body functions can decrease, leaving our bodies with dry skin, feeling cold, and with vitamin deficiencies.
- Building blocks for bones, muscles, tissues, cartilage, skin, and blood
- Building blocks for enzymes, hormones, and vitamins
- Essential for muscle growth and repair
- Play a vital role in the nervous system
A key point: While protein is vital in so many bodily functions, there is no need to go overboard. Balance is key.
Rather than focusing on what percentage of fat some recommend or how many carbs is too little or too much, let’s dive into how these macronutrients work together to create that optimal function we all desire! The following list is just a tip of the iceberg, as there are many more ways carbs, fats, and proteins work together in the body. (There are also a variety of technical terms based on how these macronutrients are stored or their locations in the body. To keep it simple for our discussion, however, we will continue to simply use the terms “carbs,” “fats,” and “proteins.”)
- Inadequate carbohydrate and fat consumption and storage can force the body to take protein from muscles for energy. If your body is forced to use protein as a fuel source, it is quite possible your body won’t be able to repair and build tissue, including muscles.
- Muscles (in general, not necessarily those that bulge or deserve first place at a body building show) use fat as their primary energy source when at rest. The moment the muscle is exercised, it switches to using carbohydrates.
- When consumed together, a combination of lean protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates (high in fiber) generally creates satisfaction and helps keep you feeling full longer.
- A diet with a variety of complex carbohydrates, protein (especially vegetarian sources), and healthy fats plays a vital role in preserving the immune system against infection and other diseases. The combination of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, protein, and antioxidants from these foods work in tandem to support the various aspects of our immunity.
The list could go on and on. Our energy, structure, organ function, appetite, hormones, immunity, etc. are all impacted by not only carbohydrates, fats, and protein, but they’re impacted by how carbohydrates, fats, and protein work together! People at different stages in their lives have a different balance that will work for them and their body’s needs, but the basic principles from last week’s Take 5 blog are the perfect place to start. There’s variety, possibilities, and lots of flavor available to support you with the building blocks you need!
Contact Balanced Wellness today at firstname.lastname@example.org to continue working on finding your balance of building blocks!