Nutrients – The Basics

macronutrients

Macronutrients

Nutrients are substrates that we need in order for our body to function properly, helping regulate our metabolism and growth.

Macronutrienets are nutrients that give us energy. They are our fuel. They are called MACROnutrients because we need them in large quantities — they are the big three! That makes sense, of course, because we need quite a few calories each day to sustain our energy.

There are three macronutrients:

  1. carbohydrates (4 calories/g)
  2. protein (4 calories/g)
  3. fats (9 calories/g)

While carbohydrates and protein provide us with four calories per gram, fat provides us with nine calories per gram! This means that for every gram of fat that you consume, you now have nine calories of fuel. You’d have to eat more than two grams of carbohydrate or protein to get the same amount of fuel. That, of course, is why foods high in fat are higher in calories by weight. Also important to note is that alcohol is the fourth substrate that provides us with calories — 7 calories/g to be exact.

 

Now, let’s look at that in a real life example:

Cheese vs. Celery

For the most part, cheese is composed of protein from milk, fat from milk, and water.

  • 1 ounce of cheddar cheese = 114 calories

Remember, the fat in the cheese has twice as many calories for every gram that the protein does. And water, of course, has no calories.

Now, what about celery? Celery is composed of almost all water, as well as carbohydrates in the form of fiber. Of course there are other components, but those are the main two.

  • 1 ounce of celery = 4 calories

This makes sense because water, the main ingredient, has no calories, and carbohydrates contain four calories per gram. So, most of the weight of celery is calorie free. This means that:

  • calories in 1 ounce of cheese = calories in 28.5 ounces of celery

 

Micronutrients, like their name implies, are nutrients we need in small quantities. There are three types of micronutrients:

  1. Acid (e.g., citric acid)
  2. Vitamin (e.g., vitamin A)
  3. Trace Mineral (e.g., iron)

 

To learn more about measurement conversions and the units used in this post, please view: Measurement Conversions

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