What Are Macronutrients?
Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
Counting your macros has been a popular social media dietary trend for a few years, but there’s science behind the trend that promises you success if you eat the way it tells you to.
Macronutrients are the foundational elements of our diets, and practically every diet, whether sustainable or a fad, claims they’ve found the secret prescription for correct macronutrient intake to keep us healthy, help us build muscle mass, and help us stay looking trim.
Science says, your body needs macronutrients to survive. Macros offer our bodies the foundational elements they need to maintain structure, create energy, and thrive.
Let’s cover what macronutrients actually are, what they do, and how you can improve your diet and total health by using the science behind macronutrients to help you guide your meal choices and total daily calories.
What Are the Three Macronutrients?
Macronutrients are so named because they make up the majority of our caloric intake, and because our bodies need the most of them. Micronutrients, on the other hand, represent vitamins and minerals our bodies typically need in much smaller amounts.
There are three macronutrients: fats, carbohydrates, and protein. Let’s look at each of them more closely and understand why our bodies need them and where they are in the foods we eat.
Counting carbs almost seems passé. Although the Atkins diet has been around since the 1970s, limiting carbohydrate intake really took fire in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Since that time, hybrid diets like the ketogenic diet have increased the low-carb craze’s popularity.
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for our bodies. When we consume carbs, our bodies convert them into glucose which is then transported to the cells in our muscles, central nervous system, and organs to carry out movement and organ function.
It’s clear we need carbohydrates to thrive, but in the absence of carbs, our body will burn fat for fuel and produce ketones. While your friends may be elated to have finally “entered ketosis,” there’s an entire body of evidence that says that might not be the smartest long-term health decision.
Carbohydrates should come mostly from fruits, vegetables like potatoes, dairy, whole grains like rice or cereals, and legumes in the form of complex carbohydrates. Unfortunately, the American diet usually sources carbs from processed foods like chips, cakes, white bread, pasta, cookies, and sugary beverages like sodas and craft coffees.
Protein is synonymous with muscle growth. Our obsession with chasing “gains” at the gym has catapulted protein powders and supplements into a $4 billion dollar industry that is continually growing.
However, protein has a more complex job than just creating undulating muscles. It gives our tissues structure, from the cell membranes that keep our cells protected and sturdy, to our organs, and it supplies our bodies with essential amino acids. Proteins are also needed for hair growth, building strong bones, keeping your skin looking plump and youthful, and supporting bones and muscles with tendons and ligaments.
Eggs, beans, meats, and soy products like tofu are just a few of many, many good sources of protein.
Possibly the most vilified of the macronutrients is fat. If you grew up during the 80s or 90s, you probably grew accustomed to eating a low-fat diet, whether you actually needed to or not.
Fat is an important part of our diets. Our brains are about 60% fat. We need fat to help insulate our bodies, protect our organs, and be used as a “backup” energy source.
Read: Fat is necessary for proper cellular function.
Because fat has historically received a bad rap, we tend to only think of fat as being found in foods we shouldn’t eat like processed and prepackaged cakes, margarine or butter, chocolate, chips, dairy products like ice cream, and greasy snacks.
However, sources of healthy fats are abundant. Nuts, seeds, avocados, fatty fish, vegetable oils like olive oil, and some fruits all have sources of fat your body can use.
Possibly the biggest misconception with fat is that consuming it will make you fat. It’s really not that simple, and avoiding fat may have a bigger negative impact on your waistline than you expect. (More on that later.)
How Should We Eat Macronutrients?
Every influencer, family member, and well-meaning friend has a diet plan they just know will work for you. Even a simple internet search will reveal numerous diets that claim to help you shed pounds quickly and with minimal effort.
To avoid falling for a fad diet, there are three questions you should ask yourself before starting any new eating plan.
Is it sustainable? Sure, you can probably survive on 1000 calories a day for a few weeks, maybe even longer. However, diets that seriously restrict your calories are not only unsafe (they place you in a caloric deficit that is far below your daily caloric needs), but they’re just too restrictive for the average person to sustain long-term.
Will it improve your health? Just because a diet will allow you to lose weight doesn’t mean it will improve your health. If you are overweight, losing weight safely is a great place to start improving your health, but if a diet so severely limits your intake of certain micronutrients, it could also be a detriment to your health.
Does it eliminate entire food groups? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that taking away an entire macronutrient group is going to cause some major health problems, but that’s the crux of the “success” of many diets. Low-carb or keto diets, for instance, eliminate virtually any carbohydrates, and in doing so also eliminates vital nutrients from fruits and vegetables that your body needs.
The average American diet is generally high carb, low fat, minimal protein, and it’s not a fad. The low-fat diet was created to help us, but its far-reaching effects have been catastrophic to our health and wellness.
Why Low-Fat Hasn’t Upped American Health
In the 1970s, faced with rising numbers of deaths related to heart disease, the American government issued dietary guidelines to over 220 million of us: eat less fat for optimal health.
The problem was, not everyone was at high risk of developing heart disease.
America listened, and we began demonizing fat. The 1990s saw the advent of low-fat everything, and the tides are only now turning, allowing some fats carefully back into our products and diets.
Low fat didn’t work. An entire generation later, we are sicker than we were before we eliminated fat, experiencing an increase in illnesses like:
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol
- Unhealthy blood pressure
By significantly reducing fat from our diets, we eliminated a macronutrient our bodies desperately need to function correctly. It’s time to get it back with the proper macronutrient ratio.
As it turns out, not all fat is bad. In fact, some fat is essential for proper health. Pentadecanoic acid is an odd-chain, saturated fatty acid that science supports is the first essential fatty acid to have been discovered in over 90 years.
This fatty acid helps to slow age-related breakdown, resulting in living healthier, longer lives.
Cells are the starting point of our health and wellness. Since our overall health begins with the health of our cells, ensuring our cellular health is good way to support a healthy body.
Pentadecanoic acid, also called C15:0, supports your cells in two ways:
- Cell membrane support. By integrating into the membranes of your cells, C15:0 helps fortify them, strengthening them and keeping them protected from external stressors. Strong cell membranes provide structural support for your cells, too.
- Improved mitochondrial function. As your cells age, they lose function, and it starts in their mitochondria. Mitochondria produce the energy your cells need to power cellular processes. C15:0 increases mitochondrial function by up to 45%, so your cells can regain their stamina (meaning you can, too).
C15:0 also helps restore balance to functions like mood, appetite, sleep, and immunity. By activating special receptors called PPARs that control these functions, C15:0 can help support healthy energy levels, and give you the key to a better-balanced life.
How To Get C15:0
As we switched to low fat diets, we significantly reduced our intake of C15:0, an essential fatty acid. This fatty acid is found primarily in whole-fat dairy products. However, simply increasing the amount of whole fat dairy products in your diet like whole fat milk and butter isn't the best alternative as these foods contain higher amounts of unhealthy fats, such as the even-chain saturated fats.
Fortunately, there’s a supplement that can help: fatty15.
Fatty15: Helping You Hit Your Macros Healthfully
Fatty15 is the first and only supplement to offer the pure, vegan-friendly version of C15:0 called FA15™. Just one capsule per day can restore your essential C15:0 levels, giving your cells a fighting chance, and allowing you to feel healthier, longer.
Macronutrients are important; all of them. The best diets avoid significantly reducing or eliminating one or more groups of macronutrients.
Decreased intake of full fat dairy products over time has led to lower levels of C15:0, an essential fatty acid, in our bodies.
Fatty15 can help replenish your essential C15:0 levels, allowing you to feel healthier and age smarter.
Ready to get back to feeling balanced? Try fatty15 here.
Sources:Supplement protein powder market size United States, 2014-2025 | Statista
Eric Venn-Watson M.D.
Senior Scientist, Co-Founder
Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.
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