Fats, carbohydrates, sugars, lipids, proteins … when we talk about nutrition we fill our mouths with these concepts. But, do we really know what they are for? Do we understand what function they play in our body? Understanding our functioning and needs is essential to improve our health, our diet and our habits. Today we are going to talk about these three concepts, more and better known as macronutrients.
In other words, macronutrients
Our body needs several substrates, building materials, so to speak, basic. These allow us to form new cells, structure tissues, maintain the signals that exist between them and a host of other functions.We know as macronutrients to fats, carbohydrates and proteins because they are the basic and most abundant substrate (next to water) of our body. In addition to the structure, these are also responsible for providing energy, without which we could not live.
Unlike micronutrients, as their name suggests, we need to acquire them in large quantities. But be careful, because an imbalance between them is, precisely, what can cause a disease or a nutritional dysfunction. The balance between the macronutrients is essential and, luckily, it is acquired with an adequate and healthy diet. But, going back to the question, what is the use of each one
What are fats good for?
Fats, or rather lipids, encompass many of the basic substances of living beings. Its main function is structural and energetic. Structural because they help to form essential parts of the cell, they are molecular transporters and they are an indivisible part of the metabolism. As we said, they are also our main source of energy, in addition to functioning as storage.
When it accumulates, the fatty tissue gives some resistance to shocks and sudden movements, as well as changes in temperature. Energetically speaking, it allows to have a long-term warehouse. If we surpass accumulating fat appears overweight and obesity.
If we restrict too much the consumption of fats we will have serious metabolic, hormonal and energetic problems. The first symptoms of a lipid deficit are the loss of physiological functions, weight loss, hair and skin drier … In the end, a severe lack of this macronutrient will lead to loss of vision, fainting, organ dysfunction and could be lethal in the medium term. Part of this group are, as we said, cholesterol, responsible for transporting lipids through the body to act as fuel or as part of the metabolic machinery. There are also triglycerides, which are the fuel most used by the human body.
In short, the function of fats is structural and energetic. They are essential for life in more ways than we can imagine. Proteins are among the most essential macronutrients. Its function is immense. In reality, proteins are tailor-made tools for each task. There are responsible for transporting energy, changing structures in the body, helping reactions … Muscle also owes a lot to proteins because muscle cells contain a lot of these. Myosin is a fibrous protein that forms the essential nature of the muscle. This protein binds in large bundles that, in turn, form even larger bundles.The result is the physiological conformation of the muscle, with an enormous capacity of contraction and stretching.
Proteins are also part of a myriad of structures and metabolic pathways. Actually, when we eat protein, what we do is acquire the essential amino acids that form proteins. Amino acids are the pieces that make up these personalized tools, and proteins are the consequence of the combination of 20 of these, more or less.
Eating insufficient protein can cause lack of energy, discomfort, hair loss, muscle weakness … in the most serious cases can affect the correct functioning of the body, in many aspects. Luckily, it is easier for us to have an excess problem than a problem for lack of this macronutrient. First of all, it is necessary to clarify that the term carbohydrate, or carbohydrate, is not quite correct. The right word to call them is carbohydrates. You can also say sugars, although it is not exact either. The error comes from its structure and chemical composition, where there are molecules of hydrogen, oxygen and carbon.
But returning to the important thing, it is necessary to know that the functions of the glucids, as it happens with the rest of macronutrients, are many. In part, we could say that they are the least essential, without confusing us, because they are still indispensable. The carbohydrates are part of the basic molecular structures.Probably, the best known function of carbohydrates is the energy. The sugars in blood serve to feed all the cells of the body. They also serve to feed the muscles immediately through a less efficient process than fat, but faster.
Among the carbohydrates are also food fibers, which are very important for digestion. In addition, carbohydrates also serve as stores of energy, especially in muscles, where glycogen is stored. Less known is the function of carbohydrates in the cell membrane, although in a smaller amount. In general, a lack of acute carbohydrates can lead to dizziness and malaise (as with diabetes). A longer absence can have serious consequences.
Among the consequences is ketoacidosis, caused by a less efficient metabolism, and almost emergency (known as beta-oxidation of fats). This process produces ketone bodies, dangerous for the organism. And this is just one of the consequences. The most serious, as with the rest of the macronutrients, can end in severe chronic metabolic problems or even death.