The 3 Major Nutrients Found in Food

The 3 Major Nutrients Found in Food

colorful fruits and vegetables displayed on a table

Building a diet plan requires a deep understanding of the three major nutrients in food – protein, carbohydrates, and fat.

These nutrients play an important role in how food is digested and the value it has to offer to the human body. Not recognizing these nutrients can lead to an unbalanced diet that’s harmful and/or wasteful.

Here is a deeper analysis of the three major nutrients.

1. Protein

steak can be a great protein source

Protein (see the best proteins here) is one of the most important macronutrients in food and is required to build muscle mass and fuel muscle recovery. It can be found in numerous food sources (listed below) and offers a variety of advantages.

At a scientific level, protein is a unique combination of amino acids such as nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, sulfur, and carbon. These amino acids are integral in proteins and act as a catalyst for muscular health.

According to modern-day research on this macronutrient, it is able to accelerate muscle development and improve your metabolic rate. It has also been noted for having a profound impact on the immune system as long as you’re getting the right amount.

In general, the human body requires approximately 0.36 grams per pound of bodyweight on a daily basis. This would mean a man weighing 200 lbs. would require 72 grams of protein during a 24-hour period.

  1. Beef
  2. Fish (Tuna, Salmon)
  3. Beans
  4. Eggs
  5. Dairy Products (Milk, Yogurt, Cheese)

It’s highly recommended to pinpoint key sources of protein and monitor your daily intake. If not, the body can start to deteriorate and this has an impact on your overall health. Don’t be afraid to mix up different protein sources and pay attention to how the body responds.

Protein is found in various food sources and that offers incredible flexibility based on your dietary needs.

2. Carbohydrates

a bowl of oatmeal and blueberries

Carbohydrates are micronutrients seen in various forms including sugars, fibers, and starches. These are sourced from foods and can be noted as a necessity.

It is seen as one of the main ways for the human body to accumulate, manage, and use energy to complete bodily functions. At a scientific level, carbohydrates are comprised of hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen. Based on modern-day research, the average human being should be having 135 grams per day (adults).

Please note, this is a rough estimate and it’s best to sit down with a professional to determine personal goals for what’s best. Based on a simple breakdown of what’s required in a daily diet, the average meal plan should include at least 45-65% carbs.

For example, if a person is eating 1800 calories per day, they would want to aim for around 202-292 grams of carbs. This is a good range to aim for.

In some case where individuals are diagnosed with diabetes, it’s best to reduce the number of carbs being consumed, but you should always consult with your doctor to determine the best eating plan for you.

The primary purpose of carbs is to provide additional fuel to the body (central nervous system and muscles). It’s best to use this as a source of energy so protein is able to do what it’s best at such as developing muscle or enabling fat metabolism.

yams make an excellent choice for healthy carbs

Carbs play an incredibly powerful role in how the brain functions including your memory, mood, and general well-being. Recent studies have pointed towards carbs playing a role in decision-making.

Individuals that consume a good amount of carbs during their breakfast meal will do better than individuals not looking into a proper meal at all.

  1. Oatmeal
  2. Rice (White or Brown)
  3. Sweet Potatoes
  4. Yams
  5. Whole Wheat Bread

Pay attention to the breakdown of carbohydrates and make sure to avoid processed foods. While these are filled with carbs, these can be “empty carbs” that are going to be harmful to the body in the long-term.

3. Fat

In general, fats are a macronutrient and can be labeled as “fatty acids” or “lipids.” These can be found in various food sources and are a critical component of one’s dietary intake.

The human body is comprised of fats (triglycerides) illustrating the value of this macronutrient at the most basic level. The average human being produces a good amount of fat but other types of fat have to be sourced from food. These fats are called essential fats and have to be eaten.

avocados are on example of healthy fats

A good example of an essential fat would be Omega-3 or Omega-6 fats.

This macronutrient is an umbrella term for three different types of fats – unsaturated fats (plant foods), saturated fats (animal foods), and trans fats (processed foods).

It’s important to focus on the unsaturated fats rather than purposely consuming trans fats.

With saturated fats, a lot of research has been done on the topic but most believe it is a legitimate option as long as it is eaten in moderation. Only focusing on saturated fats can be bad for one’s health but a balanced approach is appropriate.

Some of the primary benefits of including fats in your diet have to do with the immediate change in your wellbeing. Based on modern research, fats are able to have a profound impact on your skin, nutrient absorption, metabolism, and overall health.

  1. Nuts (Peanuts, Walnuts)
  2. Avocados
  3. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  4. Dark Chocolate (Small Amounts)

dark chocolate bars are an approved cheat meal

Final Thoughts

Protein, carbs, and fats are the three most important macronutrients sourced from food and play an important role in how the body develops. Ignoring one or the other is a recipe for disaster and is going to ensure you’re not getting enough value out of your meals. Take the time to plan ahead and include all of these macronutrients in your diet.

Most of your diet will be composed of carbs (40-60%) while the rest can be split between proteins and fats.

If necessary, it’s okay to customize your split and make sure it suits your current condition.

The best way to build a good diet plan and see great results is to remove processed foods out of the equation. It’s better to focus on using natural sources and look at the different amounts of proteins, carbs, and fats.

This information is pertinent while developing a high-quality meal plan.



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