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David Cameron-Smith

David Cameron-Smith

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What are macronutrients?

Experts — Posted 07/07/16

We all need these major nutrients to fuel our bodies. Here's what you need to know.

Macronutrients are some of the essential building blocks of a healthy diet. We need them to feel energetic and strong, and for our bodies to grow, function and perform at their best. 

As part of the Medibank School of Better – a free online learning space designed to give you the knowledge and skills to live better each day – nutrition professor David Cameron-Smith leads a short, practical course on healthy eating and how food impacts the body.    

Here, he shares a few facts about macronutrients to get you started.

1. Macronutrients are actually quite simple. The word "macronutrients" sounds a bit scary, but it actually just describes a type of food needed in (relatively) large (gram) amounts in our diet.

2. The human body needs three main macronutrients. These are protein, fat (which you may hear referred to as lipids) and carbohydrates.

3. Macronutrients are essential for keeping you vibrant and strong. Now you know what macronutrients are, you won’t be surprised to hear that the body needs them for energy, growth and organ function. 

4. We need a variety of food sources of macronutrients. For the body to function optimally, we need different sources and quantities of each macronutrient in our diet, varying depending on our activity levels.


"Sources of good fats to include in your diet are nuts, seeds, avocado, oily fish and olive oil."


5. Yep, that includes carbs. Carbohydrates should make up around 45-60% of our diet. Carbohydrates are needed in the body predominantly for fuel. 

6. Slow-releasing carbs will give you a steady flow of energy. Good sources of energy-sustaining carbohydrates to include in your diet are dark leafy green vegetables, brown rice, nuts and beans.

7. Fat is essential to our bodies. Fat is often thought of as something to avoid, but the body actually needs around 20% of our diet to consist of good fats to function well. 

8. Good fats can be found in plenty of healthy food sources. Sources of good fats to include in your diet are nuts, seeds, avocado, oily fish and olive oil.

9. Protein helps our muscles repair. Protein is our main building block for repair, and unlike carbohydrates and fat, can’t be stored in the body. Protein should make up 10-35% of our diet. 

10. Choose a variety of lean protein sources. Good sources of protein to include in the diet are lean white meat such as turkey or chicken, beans, nuts and lentils.

Want to learn more about creating a healthy diet? Head to the Medibank School of Better, where Professor David Cameron-Smith takes you through some short, practical lessons on nutrition. 

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