For many people during this time of year, their main goal is to shed a few pounds and to tighten up a bit for the warmer weather to approach. First, lets start off by clarifying that “dieting” is a temporary fix, and that it takes a lifestyle change to get you to your ultimate fitness and health goal. This may sound frustrating that you have to change your habits that you’ve formed over the years, but I think by us explaining exactly what happens in your body with certain nutrients will help you make better and smarter food choices from this point forward.
First, I want to start off with a lesson about PROTEIN, FATS, and CARBOHYDRATES. Mostly everyone knows what they are, but why is it then that people will look to completely taking out major Macronutrients such as these? Taking out or reducing carbs is what I run into most with people who are trying to shed fat. The truth is, most people do not intake enough of these nutrients for their bodies to support weight-loss, let alone their energy levels. It is all about a BALANCE of these nutrients. Without a balanced meal plan, many things go wrong throughout the human body; therefore, causing an unbalanced shift in certain hormones (covered next lesson), which affects your mood, fat-loss, and lean muscle mass growth.
PROTEIN→ Protein consists of the essential amino acids that our body needs to replicate DNA, support metabolic functions, and build lean muscle mass. Besides providing energy to the body, dietary protein is also required for grow; especially by children, teenagers, and pregnant women, tissue repair, immune system function, hormone and enzyme production, and for lean muscle mass and tone maintenance. When eaten, the proteins contained in foods are broken down into amino acids, an important dietary source of nitrogen. There are 20 amino acids and the body can make some of them from components within the body, but it cannot synthesize nine of them, accordingly called the “essential amino acids” since they must be provided in the diet. They include: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Protein that comes from animal sources are called “complete proteins” because they contains all of the essential amino acids while protein from plants, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds and vegetables are called “incomplete proteins” because they are lacking one or more essential amino acid(s).
FATS→ Besides being a source of energy, fat stores protect the internal organs of the body. Some essential fats are also required for the formation of hormones and fats are the slowest source of energy but the most energy-efficient form of food. Each gram of fat supplies the body with about 9 calories, more than twice that supplied by the two other macronutrients. Because fats are such an efficient form of energy, they are stored by the body either in the abdomen or under the skin (subcutaneous fat) for use when the body needs more energy. Fats that are in foods can be broken down into 4 main categories of saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and trans fatty acid fats. We will discuss the differences of these fats in another lesson.
CARBOHYDRATES→ There are two basic types of carbohydrates, depending on their size. Simple carbohydrates are those that cannot be broken down into simpler sugars. They include various forms of sugar, such as glucose and fructose. Complex carbohydrates are larger and consist of long strings of simple carbohydrates. They include sucrose, lactose, maltose, maltodextrins, fructo-oligo-saccharides, starch, amy-lose, and amylopectin. The human body uses carbohydrates in the form of glucose and it can convert both simple and complex carbohydrates into energy very quickly. The Glycemic Index is resourceful for classifying the different types of carbohydrates (Which will be explained in another lesson). The brain needs to use glucose as an energy source, since it cannot use fat for this purpose. This is why the level of glucose in the blood must be constantly maintained above the minimum level. The body also stores very small amounts of excess carbohydrate as energy reserve. The liver stores some as glycogen, a complex carbohydrate that the bodies can easily and rapidly convert to energy. Muscles also store glycogen, which they use during periods of intense physical activity.
**This may be a little much to take in all at first, but understanding the basic functions of these macronutrients will help us better guide you through the next 20 days when we start breaking down the functions of these nutrients!