Macronutrient Quality

All three macronutrients serve important functions, and each vary in quality. Carbohydrates can be simple or complex, full of or lacking in nutrients, and can be composed of dense or diluted calories. Protein quality depends on amino acid completeness. Fats can be saturated, polyunsaturated, or monounsaturated, and may consist of essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6.

 

Carbohydrates
4 calories per gram.

The Good
Carbohydrate sources such as fruits and vegetables are very dense in vitamins and fiber. Carbs are also the body's preferred source of energy other than alcohol, especially for anaerobic and long-duration exercise.

Starchy complex carbohydrate sources such as potatoes and long-grain rice help replenish muscle glycogen stores. Muscle glycogen is used as fuel and depletes during strenuous exercise. Starchy foods also contain resistant starch, which resists digestion, functioning similarly to fiber. It is satiating and promotes healthy gut microbiota.

Fiber helps keep you feel fuller longer, reduce appetite, and thus helps you consume less food. It also improves gastrointestinal health and reduces disease and blood pressure.

The Bad
Refined carbohydrate sources such as sugar and wheat- and corn-based products induce appetite cravings and contributes to body fat gains, cardiovascular disease, higher LDL cholesterol, higher triglycerides, and lowering HDL (good) cholesterol. Overconsumption of refined carbohydrates in combination with fats are the driving forces for the obesity epidemic.

 

Fats
9 calories per gram.

The Good
Most foods that are naturally high in fat, such as animal sources (fish, beef, pork), nuts, avocados, and coconuts, contain an abundance of vitamins and minerals, as well as essential fatty acids required for body functioning and health. It is also a very good source of body fuel and contributes to weight loss. Crucial vitamins A, D, E, and K, are fat-soluble, which means fats are required for bioabsorption.

Monounsaturated and saturated fats from animal sources, eggs, butter, avocados, coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil are health-promoting.

While saturated fats have been controversial, they actually serve important body functions for bone, organ, brain, immune health, and weight loss. The French paradox is the phenomenon where high dietary cholesterol and saturated fat are correlated with low incidences of heart disease. Furthermore, diets high in fat have been shown to provide important benefits that protect against neurological losses that characterize Alzehimer's and Parkinson's. Not all saturated fats are the same, though. Although coconut oil is high in saturated fat, they are in the form of medium-chain triglycerides, mostly in the form of lauric acid, which raises good HDL cholesterol, which protects your heart.

While omega-3 fatty acids benefit health as an anti-inflammatory, not all omega-3s are the same. Walnuts and flaxseed are very high in ALA omega-3, but this is misleading. The body has to convert ALA. Only a small portion of ALA can be utilized to EPA and DHA, which are useful to the body. Seafood and fish oil are excellent sources of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids.

The Bad
Although fats are important for weight loss, they are high in energy density, compounded by fried foods and pastries.

The body functions well with an omega-3 and omega-6 ratio of 1:1 or 1:2. Most of us consume 1:15 or higher, which contributes to inflammation and oxidative stress, leading to a host of critical diseases. Sources high in omega-6 polyunsaturated fats are margarine, canola oil, and vegetable oil.

While saturated fats are beneficial on a low-carbohydrate diet, they are harmful when combined with refined carbohydrates, which comprise the staple of the standard North American diet.

 

Proteins
4 calories per gram.

The Good
Protein is the most satiating macronutrient and is crucial for weight management. Proteins are the building blocks for muscle and is essential to sustain life.

The Bad
Proteins are poor fuels for energy.

 

Dalton Tessier.

Published by Dalton Tessier