Macronutrients are the types of nutrients our bodies use to digest food, create energy, replicate our cells, and generally to survive. There are three macronutrients and they are protein, carbohydrates and fats.
Out of these three, what is the most important macronutrient?
Protein, the Building Block of Life
Many people think of protein as what muscles are made of, but protein is essential to so many other functions of your body’s systems that it is important to mention them here. Because proteins are the only macronutrient that keeps a specific shape depending on how it is created, they often function as immunoglobulin and enzymes. An enzyme is essential to many processes in your body and immunoglobulin forms a key part of your immune system for fighting sickness.
Additionally, your muscles are indeed made of protein.
Since proteins make up 15% of our body mass, they are the most abundant solid in our bodies.
Protein vs. Other Macronutrients
The other categories of food that make up the categories of macronutrients are essential, but with a diverse protein rich meal plan, you will get all the fats and carbohydrates your body needs. If you focus a diet on the other macronutrients, you may not get enough protein to function properly, let alone build muscle mass.
Protein rich foods that have carbohydrates include prepared vegetables (spinach, legumes, rice). Most animal proteins can be prepared with varying amounts of fat to the point where you will have to cut fat out of your protein rich diet to control cholesterol.
Protein for Weight Loss?
It’s the age of information. Anyone with internet access can find a scientific sounding article that shows the health benefits of a “this” or “that” fad diet. However, you will be hard-pressed to find any clinical research that suggests that a low-protein diet is superior to a high-protein diet for weight loss. Some clinical research studies showed the following results:
- “An increase in dietary protein from 15% to 30% of energy at a constant carbohydrate intake produces a sustained decrease in ad libitum caloric intake that may be mediated by increased central nervous system leptin sensitivity and results in significant weight loss!” (14).
- “…we determined that consuming dietary protein at levels exceeding the RDA may protect fat-free mass during short-term weight loss” (16).
- “These results indicate that approximately 2.3 g x kg (-1) or approximately 35% protein was significantly superior to approximately 1.0 g x kg (-1) or approximately 15% energy protein for maintenance of lean body mass in young healthy athletes during short-term hypo-energetic weight loss” (17).
Protein: Storage of Calories
Calories are often misunderstood items. Simply put, a calorie is a measurement of the energy contained in your food. But, because we process food differently in our body, certain calories actually require more energy to access and so they give our body less net calories than others. In this result, protein comes ahead of both carbohydrates and fats in providing the most benefit with the least amount of calories.
The food you eat effects how your body works, and including rich proteins in your diet is essential to healthy body building and living.
Click here to see some of our great protein options that can help you get the proper daily amount of this important macro-nutrient.