Broken down into it’s simplest point, your body needs energy in order to survive. As a car requires gasoline in order to go anywhere, your body requires energy in order to carry out it’s biological functions ranging from breathing, eating, digesting, performing – they all require energy. Reading this post – requires energy.
The first law of thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created, it must be transferred or converted from one form or another. And this is where we introduce adenosine triphosphate or ATP. ATP is the molecule responsible for energy and it relies upon macronutrients (carbs, fats and proteins) as it’s source for energy. To continue along the car analogy we can think of carbs as the high performance octane, fats as the mid level grade, and protein as regular grade. They all serve a purpose. Settle down, I’m not giving you permission to double your carb intake! 🙂
Carbohydrates get a pretty bad rap in the health and wellbeing industry but they play a very critical role in the human body. In fact, they are your body’s MAIN SOURCE of energy and the most efficient at producing ATP. It is because of this that the body preferentially breaks down carbs first, then fats and THEN protein only if the other two fields are depleted. Carbs fuel your brain, kidneys, heart muscles and the central nervous system. In fact a diet that is too low in carbohydrates can cause headaches, fatigue, weakness, nausea, constipation, difficulty concentrating (brain fog), bad breath and even vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Fats are also important in the body. At 9 calories per gram, they are the most concentrated source of energy (double carbs and protein which are each 4 calories per gram). Fat is the transportation macro. It helps to transport fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K and supports their absorption in the intestine. Fat also supports cell growth, protects your organs and helps to keep your body warm. Fat also helps to produce hormones. Fats aren’t soluble in the blood so their stores can be difficult to access. That is why they aren’t relied upon for large amounts of ATP but a backup in case the carbohydrate supply is limited. Lastly, not all fats are created equal, but that’s another post for another time.
Proteins exist in every single cell of the human body. Protein helps to repair cells, generate new cell growth and is a critical part of the processes that fuel your energy and carry oxygen throughout your body in the blood. Protein helps to create antibodies that fight off infections and illness. Proteins are really important to maintaining healthy, strong muscles and tissues. Proteins CAN be used to produce ATP however proteins are required for so many other functions within the body that they are not prioritized.
In summary, it’s all about energy. In order to sleep, you need energy. In order to eat, you need energy. In order to breathe, or walk or run or cook….you need energy. Hopefully with today’s blog you have a slightly better understanding of what each macro’s role is in the production of energy that fuels you throughout the day. As always, I’m here to discuss.