What are Macronutrients? Macronutrients are substances needed by a living organism to thrive, and are generally required in large amounts. The human body must have macronutrients to properly function every day. Carbohydrates, proteins and fats are a big deal to the human body and understanding why you need them and the proper amounts needed are super important to living a healthy lifestyle! I want to make sure to cover carbohydrates, proteins and fats clearly, so I have broken them down into three parts, one for each macronutrient. We are now on part two and we are going to talk about proteins!
Proteins are definitely a macronutrient, however providing energy is not their main gig, they have way to many other things going and not much time for that. Proteins are also not one size fits all, our bodies actually have thousands of different proteins and they all provide a different function. Amino acids are the building blocks for proteins and there are ultimately 20 amino acids available to your cells, and 9 of them are must haves in your diet.
Since I mentioned that proteins are not all the same, lets touch base on what they can be. Some proteins are enzymes; they speed up chemical actions like digestion of carbohydrates. Proteins can also be hormones; they are chemicals that are created in one part of the body then carry messages to other parts of the body. Some proteins also provide structure; collagen is a protein and it is what gives structure to bones, teeth and skin. Some proteins are antibodies, these are the blood proteins that attack and neutralize invaders such as bacteria and viruses. Proteins maintain fluid balance in the body. Proteins transfer nutrients and other compounds, for example hemoglobin carries oxygen. Proteins maintain acid-base balance; thank goodness because blood that is too acidic or too alkaline is detrimental. Protein may not be a main source of energy, however it is a back up source of energy.
So where do you get proteins from? Think about an average dinner plate, it seems that the main food is meat and then the secondary is usually a vegetable and/or carb. This is because meat does have a lot of protein and like most people when you think of protein you may think of beef, turkey, fish, chicken, and dairy products. However it is important to understand how to have the appropriate amounts and balance it with other nutrients. Now a days there are also many different preferences in what people eat and some are even vegetarian or vegan, don’t worry protein is in more than just meat! Other foods are broccoli, peanut butter, kidney beans, and whole-wheat bread.
Remember proteins are not a main source for energy, however this is because they are so busy providing other important things for the body. It’s important to eat the proper amount of protein in your diet so each function that needs protein can function properly.