One of the biggest mistakes that I run into with people who are trying to lose weight is that they will drastically decrease their carb and/or fat intake. Our society has brainwashed us into thinking that eating less of these macronutrients is what is needed in order to meet our weight loss goals. The recommended dietary allowances (RDA) of nutrients exist for a reason. Our bodies NEED these nutrients! The truth is, most people do not intake enough of certain foods for their bodies to support weight-loss, let alone their energy levels. It is all about a BALANCE of these foods and the nutrients that are contained within them. Without a balanced meal plan, many things go wrong throughout the human body causing an unbalanced shift in certain hormones; therefore affecting 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, and they are accordingly called the “essential amino acids” since they must be provided by your diet. They include: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Proteins that come from animal sources are called “complete proteins” because they contain 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 article.
CARBOHYDRATES – There are two basic types of carbohydrates, and the difference is dependent 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 article). 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 a 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.
It takes understanding HOW and WHY we need certain nutrients to reap our fullest potential when it comes to staying healthy, shedding fat, or building muscle. I believe that educating others in these important areas of knowledge will help them make smarter and healthier choices, and build habits that they can carry with them throughout their lives.
“Understanding is different than knowing something. How can we apply anything to what we know without understanding it first?”
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