Macronutrients--Which Do We Use First and Why?

Scale with Carbs, Fats and Proteins

Macronutrients are large sets of nutritional blocks that are body requires to make all of the components that our cells need to function. In short, they are food types that we need to function. They include:

  • Proteins
  • Fats
  • Carbohydrates

So why do we need them and how do we use them? For the sake of a shorter and consistent answer, we turn to the psychological term "flight or fight." Let's explore.


Bits and Pieces of a Bigger Picture

What we call food is really just a pile of chemicals to our body. Our body needs chemicals to make cells, grow hair, build muscles, and even to add to that fat role we try to stuff into our jeans. Those chemicals are broken down into three basic groups — proteins, fats, and carbs. When we eat an apple, it is 34 grams of carbohydrates, no fat, and one gram of protein. When we eat a Big Mac® we are eating 34 grams of fats, 47 grams of carbs, and 24 grams of protein. It may seem as though we get more out of a Big Mac® than we do an apple, and that is true. The problem is that all of the excess in the Big Mac® is often stored as fat. So, the takeaway here is that while we need nutrients, we only need so many of them before we start storing fat.

This is where Flight or Fight comes into the picture. Our body is designed to store energy as fat. This is a design that dates back to our most ancient ancestors and to a time when food was not so readily available. "Hunter-gatherers" is a term we hear these days from the world of the Paleo diet. Those ancient people hunted for food and gathered nuts, seeds, fruit, and vegetables. If they could not find food, they starved. If the hunt was not successful, they starved. During periods of starvation, our body converts stored fats to energy. Fight or flight is a defense mechanism. We either run or we stand and fight. Both require vast amounts of energy. Fat and carbs are energy. Protein is the building blocks for creating muscle and other cells. So what we eat directly affect what we are able to do and how well we are able to do that task.

Macronutrient Use and Consumption

Our body uses carbohydrates first. It stores excess carbs in the liver as a glycogen. That is important because of all our organs, our brain needs carbs the most. The brain cells that help us think and be rational require a lot of energy. Neural pulses are electricity, which is energy. The next type of energy comes from fat. Fat is stored and converted to metabolic energy, which out cells use to power through their process. How much energy does it take to build a muscle cell? Whatever that amount is, it almost always comes from fat. The last macronutrient is proteins, which are a poor source of energy. Our body burns it last because the payoff is so little. Your body has to be in dire need of energy to harvest protein as a fuel. The idea of using protein to fuel our body is the same as harvesting muscle cells. The payoff is bad, but there are situations where that conversion is necessary.

If you'd like more information on how food impacts our body, stop by the Metabolic Research Center where food is what we do. We offer weight loss and healthy improvement through a number of programs that focus on food as the solution. Here you learn how eating good food is not only healthy but empowering for people who want to drop stored fat and gain more energy.


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MRC of Vancouver started me going in my attempt to loose 30 years of weight gain!! I have been using their program for about 18 months and have actually lost 30 pounds. I have changed the way I eat. I've learned what foods are best for ME. By analyzing my DNA and hormones, they helped me learn to eat what was right for me. I have "tweeked" my purchases and preparation of food to make eating healthy and still fun for me. I eat lots of veggies and salads and include a healthy diet of protein. These are very satisfying. Do I "cheat" now and then? Yes, but I don't like how I feel after eating sugar and lots of carbs so I return to my good foods quickly and continue to see my weight drop. I walk my little dog four times a day and have a part-time job that allows me a lot of movement. I feel so healthy and wonderful. It's easy to continue to eat and live a more healthy lifestyle! When I confessed about eating the wrong "foods", the gals simply encouraged me and gave me fresh ideas to satisfy my taste buds. I always felt I could be honest during my consultations with no fear of being lectured! I plan to continue until I reach my desired weight. I expect to reach my goal by 2017. After I reach my weight goal, I plan to remain in good health with my new found healthy way of eating the calories I need to maintain my proper weight. My Dr. is very pleased at my progress. She wondered how I have lost 30 pounds.


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