Understanding the 3 Macronutrients

A lot of fitness beginners will fail at the first hurdle because the introduction of terminology like ‘macronutrients’ manages to catch them off-guard. It is important to recognise how certain nutrients work hand-in-hand with one another and where you can get them from as you may be surprised to find out which food groups are high in certain vitamins as opposed to others. Read on as we explain everything you need to know about the three macronutrients that make up the food on our plates: carbohydrates, protein and fats…


At just 4 calories per gram, carbohydrates are an essential macronutrient because they are broken down into glucose and this is the main source of energy that the body requires. There are actually three different types of carbohydrates: simple, complex and fibre. Although fibre does not provide any nutritional value because it cannot be broken down, it is essential for bowel regularity. Simple carbs are easy to breakdown and include foods like honey, sugar, milk, yogurts and even fruit whereas complex carbs take much longer to break down and release energy slowly, such as those found in rice, pasta, bread and starchy vegetables.


The second macronutrient that is important for good health is protein because it gives the body the tools it needs to build and repair tissue, as well as protecting its muscle mass. It provides 4 calories per gram just like carbohydrates do, however it comes from a very different group of foods. For example, the easiest way to obtain protein is through animal-based products like poultry, fish, eggs, milk and cheese. With this said, vegetarians and vegans can obtain their intake through plant sources such as lentils, nuts, seeds and soy.


Often misunderstood, fats are a macronutrient with a poor reputation and this means that many dieters tend to avoid them. Essentially, fat stores energy, cushions our internal organs, helps make hormones and even absorbs certain vitamins. There are three different types: trans fats, which are found in fried or baked goods so tend to be quite unhealthy, saturated fats, which can increase cholesterol levels in large amounts and are often prominent in animal products like beef, lamb, full fat cheese and lard, and saturated fats, which are typically recognised as ‘healthy fats’ because they provide a lot of essential nutrients. Most often than not, unsaturated fat can be found in plant-based foods like avocados, nuts, seeds and oils, however they are also rich in fish like salmon, sardines and tuna too.

Here at The Healthy Living and Fitness, we recognise the challenges that taking on a new lifestyle can present. After all, there is a lot of jargon to get your head around. We believe that taking the process step-by step reduces the likelihood of being overwhelmed and throwing in the towel before you have really begun. To find out more information about the nutritional side of healthy living, get in contact with a member of the team today!