We have all heard the term Macro- and Micro nutrients somewhere before. But what exactly are they and what is the difference?
Let’s start with Macro nutrients
These are the stars on the plate and everyone knows their names. Some of them we’d like to be excluded from our party on the plate and some of them we don’t really know well enough to understand if they are good or bad for us.
I see Macro nutrients like relatives:
There are Carbohydrates
We love them! They get invited to every event and even though we have heard rumours about them being not as nice as they seem, we believe what the majority (aka food pyramid) says and embrace them in every single meal and snack.
Then there are Proteins
Sometimes it feels like an extra effort to get these guys on board. They are hard to talk to at times but we know they should be included. Sometimes we try to have them around ALL the time, when we are building up muscle and want to look good for something. That’s the time when they rock the show and are our best friends.
That’s the family whose invitation gets lost and who doesn’t look great in pictures anyway. We must admit though that they make it much more fun every time they come. We laugh and enjoy ourselves so much more when we hang out with them. But we shouldn’t. Because they are uncool and no one wants to be friends with them anyway.
Now that we talked about our relationship to the Macro nutrients, let’s break it up and explain what each of them actually is and what we need to know about them. For today’s post I would like to start with Carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are basically all foods that are converted into glucose by your body as an energy source.
There are different types of carbohydrates. Simple and complex.
The molecule chain in simple carbohydrates is very short and one big indicator that you are eating a simple carbohydrate is, that you can taste the sweetness in your mouth straight away or when you have to chew it a bit longer.
This would be everything sugary or processed.
You can do a little experiment: take a piece of bread or cracker or anything that you would think of as a savoury food and that is dry. Now chew on one bite for five minutes or so. Does it start to taste sweet in your mouth? That means your carbohydrate is most likely simple.
The trouble with simple carbs is, that it raises your blood sugar and causes the body to release too much insulin all at once. Once the insulin has cleared up the sugar content in the blood, it makes you crave more food because your body wasn’t able to release just the right amount of insulin and it’s still floating around and wants to stay occupied.
Every single glucose molecule needs to be separated in order to be used by the body for energy.
Complex carbs on the other hand, need a lot longer to be broken up into glucose molecules and don’t raise the blood sugar in the same way that simple carbs do.
They still get converted into sugar, but just at a speed that the body is able to keep up with.
This means for your insulin level, that it is in a very low range and able to transport glucose in the cells to be used as energy.
This is a much better and for your body, much safer way to consume carbohydrates.
For those of you who struggle with cravings and constantly need to snack, it might come as a relief to know that complex carbs keep you full for longer.
The reason is because the blood sugar level is very stable and there is no unnecessary insulin hanging around asking you to entertain it all the time.
Separation happens through enzymes.
So, in summing up, what do we think about these kind of guests being invited to our meal party?
Some of those carbs are honest and kind. They want to fuel your body and provide you with energy and enable you to work hard, to concentrate and be nourished.
The good, fibrous complex carbs, are found in vegetables like broccoli, capsicum, carrots, nuts, seeds, most fruit… There are also starchy complex carbs which are found in sweet potato, pumpkin, sweet corn, grains and legumes. Basically everything that grows on some kind of plant is most likely a complex carb. These carbs contain big amounts of water and fibre which supports your digestion and make you feel full. You will also find all kind of micro nutrients which aid in many body functions like cell repair, energy conversion, elimination and detoxification to name only a few.
Simple carbs on the other hand shouldn’t join your party too often. They are the gossiping kind that makes you feel loved and appreciated until you find out that they talk behind your back and make you tired and sluggish. They feel so good while you eat them but soon after you aren’t satisfied and wonder why your waist is changing so rapidly and you don’t seem to be able to change anything about that.
Examples of foods containing simple carbs include following:
Baked goods like biscuits, bread, pastries. Sugar, honey, soft drinks, white rice, pasta, alcohol, light chocolate, candy and pretty much everything that comes in a package.
Most simple carbs are also called ’empty carbs’ which means they contain not much else then calories and don’t provide your body with any nutritious value.
As a rule of thumb remember this how you choose your carbs:
- Is there a plant for this food?
- How high is the water and fibre content? (It should be high!)