UNDERSTANDING MICRO AND MACRO ESSENTIAL NUTRIENTS
For anyone interested in optimum health, it’s vital to have an understanding of how to not only achieve it but maintain it. And good health starts with eating well – full stop! We explain in this blog post what essential nutrients are, know your Macros and Micros.
As a species, we’ve moved so far away from how we were intended to eat, that it now seems ‘normal’ to consume products that actually damage us! In a world of madness and misinformation, it pays to be informed, which is why we at Pro Gains felt this blog was necessary.
Pro Gains is a market leader in the provision of fresh food for those interested in fitness. Our balanced meals are full of essential nutrients, all prepared and delivered to your door. We make it our business to keep you healthy, so here’s our lowdown on what that actually means.
WHAT IS A ‘NUTRIENT’?
Our bodies do amazing things on a continual basis. We move, think and breathe. The brain constantly functions, our hearts beat and we repair ourselves continually. All this activity would be impossible without chemical substances called nutrients. These nutrients are found in food, and provide the energy we need, in order to function.
SO WHAT ARE THE ESSENTIAL NUTRIENTS?
These are essential to the body in order to promote normal growth and maintenance. Daily – we all need a mix of the following:
- Proteins– Proteins form the majority of our cell structure. Genetic information is stored as protein in the body’s DNA. It’s also responsible for catalysing metabolic reactions in the body. Proteins are the third and last source of energy (after fats and carbs). They are the last to be used of all macronutrients (see below). When a body is starved, it will then ‘consume’ the muscles as they consist of protein, in order to provide the energy needed. This is known as muscle wasting. Proteins provide 17 kilojoules of energy per gram.
- Fats– they work as solvents for hormones and fat-soluble vitamins. Fats are also involved in the production of hormones and steroids. Cholesterol also makes up the cell membrane and provides a degree of rigidity to it.Fats have the highest calorific content, providing about 37 kilojoules per gram. This makes them twice as energy-rich as protein and carbohydrates. Extra fat is stored in adipose tissue and is burnt when the body has run out of carbohydrates. Fat is also needed to take up fat-soluble vitamins.
- Carbohydrates– important in the process of oxidising fat – can also be converted into protein. Carbohydrates constitute the majority of stored food in the body for delayed use of energy. Glucose (a monosaccharide) is the body’s primary source of energy, but excess amounts will be stored in the liver as Glycogen. When energy is needed it is converted into glucose again and used to release energy. Carbohydrates provide 17 kilojoules of energy per gram.
- Vitamins– required for metabolism, growth, development and enzyme function.
Vitamins are either fat-soluble or water-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins can be stored in the fatty tissues in the body when in excess, and so are not excreted easily. This means that you do not need to eat them as often as water-soluble vitamins. The latter are excreted in urine when in excess and so need to be taken daily.
Antioxidant vitamins include C and E. Vitamin K is required for blood clotting. The B vitamins deal predominantly with the nervous system, whilst vitamin D manages calcium and blood health. Our bodies can only ‘make’ four of the essential vitamins we need (i.e vitamin D comes from sunlight on the skin), so the majority must be taken in through diet.
- Minerals– needed in small amounts to build strong bones and teeth, control body fluids and convert food to energy. These include things like calcium, magnesium and iron.
- Water– essential in the regulation of body temperature and to keep us hydrated. Water also helps distribute nutrients around the body and acts as a waste disposal, as well as being a lubricant and shock-absorber.
Of the six essential nutrients above, 3 of them are called Macronutrients, while the other 2 are Micronutrients.
MACRONUTRIENTS – Include Carbs, Fats and Proteins
- We need large amounts of these to fuel the body (they provide the energy/calories) for this.
- They help us to repair and grow as well as regulating the body functions
MICRONUTRIENTS – – Include minerals and vitamins.
Both are required in very minute amounts but essential all the same. They’re both vital for normal body function as, they enable chemical reactions to occur in the body that allow it to utilise food effectively. They do not provide energy though. A good balanced fresh diet should supply everything you need in terms of essential nutrients.
With regard to minerals, approximately 4% of the body’s mass consists of them.
Water soluble vitamins:
include Vitamin B and C. Green leafy vegetables are rich in Vitamin B as well. Vitamin C is found abundantly in citrus fruits. These vitamins can disappear rapidly and should be replenished every day (with the exception of B12, which can be stored in the body for years).
Fat soluble vitamins:
These are vitamin A, D, E and K.
Green leafy vegetables, milk and dairy products and plant oils provide these vitamins.
Pro Gains has always favoured the school of thought that it’s better to eat fresh and balanced diets to gain your essential nutrients, rather than through supplementation. Every meal is selected by our individual customers, who choose one protein, one fat and one carbohydrate as their selection. This way, all the essential nutrients are taken care of. There’s plenty of colour and flavour too – it’s all important when considering your food choices. Order yours here, and know you have your essential nutrients all covered fresh and in their best form.
If you are interested in learning more nutritional terminology, please visit our Pro Gains A to Z of Nutritional Terms page.