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Watch Janeane talk about the importance of macronutrients and their role in our core functions, and our health and wellbeing.
JANEANE DART: The three main macronutrients in our diet are carbohydrates, and proteins, and fats. And they’re essential because they provide us with energy, energy to fuel our core functions. So, things like sleeping, eating, resting actually uses up energy, but also things like activity and vigorous exercise. So that’s where we get energy from our key macronutrients to do that. But also for things like growth and maintenance and repair. The different macronutrients, I guess, exist in unique combinations in different foods. So, for example, yogurt has a combination of all, carbohydrate, and protein, and fat. Something like oranges or the bok choy, fabulous source of fiber, or carbohydrate, but very little virtually they’re fat free and small amounts of protein.
Something like the meat, if you like, and the nuts, great source of protein, no carbohydrate, no fiber, and varying amounts of fats. So food has a unique combination of macronutrients and micronutrients within them. And that’s why eating a really good, diverse diet and a range of different foods is so core and so essential to our health and well being. In addition with macronutrients, it’s important to consider the energy that it yields, or the energy that our macronutrients provide to our diet and to our eating plan. So currently, en vogue are low-carb or no carbohydrate diets. People are concerned that they gain weight on carbohydrates. And there’s a real move away from including carbohydrates.
And it’s really important just to highlight that actually per gram of carbohydrate and per gram of protein, they’re exactly the same. They provide about 17 kilojoules, or about 4 calories per gram. So they’re exactly the same. So I’ve seen people in practice who are reducing their carbohydrate yet boosting their protein intake. And apart from putting an unwanted load on their kidneys, they’re not really gaining anything from an overall kilojoules perspective. How much of these macronutrients should we include in our diet? And I guess for every person they have a determined energy need depending on their age, their stage of life, the energy levels that they expend.
But generally, and the evidence in Australia highlights, their diet should be somewhere between about 15-25% protein. 45-65% carbohydrate. So half, or a bit more than half should come from carbohydrate. And that sits when we talk about eating plenty of plant-based fruit, vegetable, and grain products. So that’s where about half of our diet should be coming from. And then with fat, that varies somewhere between 20-35%. Those recommendations are based on solid scientific evidence, but what we need to be conscious of is those recommendations might vary across countries or even certain contexts. And I think we need to be cognizant of that that evidence will develop and may influence those recommendations. But that’s the current evidence.
And so a no carbohydrate, or very low carbohydrate, diet currently isn’t what we’re recommending. A really key thing to highlight with carbohydrates, it’s not just bread and pasta as people typically think. So fruits, vegetables, dairy products, nuts, even there’s a little bit of carbohydrate in nuts. So I think it’s really important to promote it’s not just bread and pasta. It is easy, potentially, to eat more of those foods that you might need. But things like breakfast cereal, fruit, sweet potatoes, the watermelon, oranges, asparagus have got carbohydrate, the sunflower seeds, the pasta, as I said the dairy products.
So see carbohydrates are present in some really healthy, nutritious foods which if they’re omitted will really restrict the range of nutrients that you’re getting into your diet.

Watch Janeane talk about the importance of macronutrients and their role in our core functions, and our health and wellbeing.

Talking point

Within the Comments, consider sharing with other learners the types of macronutrients-rich food you include in your diet. You may also like to discuss some of the ways you could change your intake to meet your energy needs.

You might like to take some time to read comments made by other learners, and if you find these comments interesting, respond to them.

Remember you can also ‘Like’ comments or follow other learners throughout the course.

Find out more

In the See also section of this step, you can access links to additional information about information about hydration, fluid and alcohol and further reading about macronutrients published by the National Health and Medical Research Council and the United States Department of Agriculture.

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Food as Medicine

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