You will often hear fitness professionals and nutrition experts throw the word macronutrients around when describing what to eat but what does it actually mean? Defined as any nutritional component of a diet which is required in relatively large amounts the three main macronutrients are protein, fat and carbohydrate.
Protein provides the building blocks for your cells which are constantly regenerating and is used in the production of enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, antibodies, transport proteins and of course muscle tissue. In certain instances protein can also be used as an energy source.
Fat is much maligned and wrongly so as healthy fats are responsible for a whole host of important processes in the body. Fat is used in the manufacturing and regulation of hormones, in the forming of cell membranes, in the forming of brain and central nervous system structures, in the transportation of vitamins and minerals into the body and as a plentiful source of energy.
Carbohydrates provide a quick source of energy for our cells and are not only used to fuel intense bouts of exercise but also the running of our brain and central nervous system.
A healthy diet will typically begin with a blend of all three macronutrients although the optimal ratios will vary from individual to individual. Some will do better on higher fat intakes and lower carbohydrate intakes whilst others will do better on higher carbohydrate intakes and lower fat intakes. Many will fall somewhere between. This is where a bit of self-experimentation and biofeedback comes into its own.
No matter where you fall on the spectrum, deriving your food (and by association macronutrients) from high quality whole-food sources should remain a top priority.