What are macronutrients?
You are what you eat
Meeting your macronutrients is an important factor in fueling your body. From the time you get up in the morning to when you’re sleeping during the night, your body needs energy (or calories) to keep going.
We get our energy from three main nutrients in our diet: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. These are our macronutrients (macro meaning the largest). Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) are also critical to our health, but they don’t directly provide us any calories or energy.
At some point in time, all the macronutrients have been on the receiving end of bad publicity for one reason or another. They have been blamed for health conditions, for preventing weight loss, or for causing weight gain. The truth is they are all critical to a healthy, functioning body.
Let’s start with fat. This is the slowest digested of all the macronutrients. Digestion doesn’t begin until fat reaches your stomach, where your digestive enzymes can start breaking it down. It is the most calorie dense, packing 9 calories/gram of fat. Some fats are very beneficial for your brain and heart, and others less so. If you find a snack or meal leaving you less than satisfied, you might want to choose a food slightly higher in beneficial fats to keep you feeling more full and satisfied, and less likely to reach for another snack.
Protein is the next slowest digested macronutrient. It also does not begin breaking down until it reaches the stomach, so it is critical to keeping you feeling full and sustained throughout the day. It has fewer calories than fat at 4 calories/gram of protein. Break your protein down into smaller servings throughout the day to get the most out of it. And don’t forget about protein coming from plants and grains and starches—it all adds up!
Last, but definitely not least important are carbohydrates. Like protein, they contain 4 calories/gram of carbohydrates. These are the fastest digested macronutrient, and for good reason. Carbohydrates provide us with a sugar called glucose, which is the primary fuel our brain is made to run on. When feeling tired, it’s not uncommon to have strong cravings for high carbohydrate foods, as our brain requires more energy. Choosing the right type of carbohydrate in this instance is a very important step.
Macronutrients of wheat
Wheat is an amazing source of carbohydrates and is full of an awesome nutrient called fibre. We don’t technically digest fibre—it expands like a net in our gut, helping us to feel full and satisfied. This net also collects cholesterol, and then passes out of the body through our digestive system. Yes, we can thank fibre for keeping us regular!
When choosing the optimum wheat products, consider these factors to get the best bang for your buck:
- high fibre (3+ g/serving or closer to 15% Daily Value (DV))
- medium-high protein (3-7g/serving)
- low-medium fat (1-3g/serving or closer to 5% Daily Value (DV))
Want to learn more about macros in wheat? Take a look at this breakdown of famous (and maybe not so famous) wheat products: