What is Nutrition?

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Energy-Yielding Nutrients: Carbohydrates, Fat & Protein

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:02 Nutrition
  • 0:53 Macronutrients
  • 2:57 Water
  • 3:36 Micronutrients
  • 5:03 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Nutrition is the process of taking in nutrients from the foods you eat. Learn about the six nutrients needed for energy, maintenance of tissues and regulation of bodily processes: carbohydrates, fats, proteins, water, vitamins and minerals.


Have you ever heard the expression, 'you are what you eat?' While we can't take this literally, this simple saying contains a lot of truth.

The foods you choose to eat determine which nutrients your body will receive and in what quantities. Nutrients are substances that allow your body to make energy, build and maintain tissues, and regulate bodily processes. If you eat a healthy diet filled with a variety of high-nutrient foods, you are more likely to enjoy good health than if you eat a poor diet that is lacking in nutrients. This lesson will provide an overview of nutrition, which is the process of taking in nutrients from foods, by looking at the six classes of nutrients:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Lipids
  • Proteins
  • Water
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals


Three of these six classes of nutrients are referred to as macronutrients because they are required in large quantities. The prefix macro means large, so this is a fairly easy term to remember.

The macronutrients are carbohydrates, lipids and proteins. They are somewhat unique because they are the only nutrients that provide your body with energy, which is measured in calories.

Of the three macronutrients, your body looks to carbohydrates for quick energy because carbs are readily available when there's an immediate need for energy. All carbohydrates come from food, but different foods contain different types of carbohydrates. For example, when you eat a cookie, you are consuming mostly sugars, or simple carbs, whereas your spaghetti dinner contains a lot of starches, which are complex carbs made up of many sugars. Eat some fruits and veggies and you will take in fiber, which is a type of carbohydrate that cannot be digested. This means you cannot get energy from fiber, yet fiber is great for moving foods through your digestive tract, so you want plenty of it in your diet.

Lipids, which are commonly called fats, have more calories per gram than the other macronutrients, so you can think of them as energy-dense nutrients that are a perfect source of sustainable energy when you need some endurance. Like carbs, there are different types of fats. Saturated fats, like butter, are solid at room temperature; unsaturated fats, like vegetable oils, are liquid at room temperature.

As for proteins, they do contain calories, but because proteins are so important for growth, development and repair, your body uses them as a last resort source of energy. You get proteins in a variety of animal and plant foods, with meats and beans being good sources. Your body then breaks these protein-containing foods down into amino acids, which are the basic building blocks of proteins. The amino acids are then reassembled into thousands of different types of body proteins.


Water is another class of nutrient. Some nutritionists categorize water as a macronutrient because it's needed in large quantities, but it's typically placed in its own category, because, unlike the other nutrients, it's a single substance. Water makes up about 60% of your body weight. It's easily lost through urine, sweat and evaporation, so you need to frequently fill up by drinking liquids and eating foods that contain water, like fruits and vegetables. The functions of water are important because it lubricates your joints, transports substances around your body and regulates your body temperature, so you never want to be low on water.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account