Our body basically recognizes foods in one of three categories:
Carbohydrates which contain 4 calories per gram.
Proteins which contain 4 calories per gram.
Fats which contain 9 calories per gram.
So if you read a food label that states a food has 41 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of protein and 3 grams of fat that food would contain 207 calories. (make sure you also understand a serving size)
We will start with carbohydrates, in the most simplistic of explanations lets think of carb’s as the fuel for your engine. With that in mind think of your body like a Lexus, if you give it high test it runs great, if you give it regular fuel you get terrible gas mileage and it runs sluggish, eventually leading to major repairs. Yes, you saved money for the moment but in the long run, not so much. Simple / fast digesting carbs are like either for your engine. They are mostly comprised of simple sugars and though they get you a rush of energy, that energy will drop off just as abruptly. Complex / slow digesting carb’s keep your blood sugar level more stable by taking longer to digest. these foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and YES, dark chocolate are usually packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Fats or fatty acids are the protection for your Lexus, different fats protect your Lexus in different ways. Some are like wax that protect the paint finish while others are like the oil that protects the engine. So the type of fat is for more important than the amount fats in your diet. The good and bad fats are broken down further into 4 primary types.
The worst are trans fats like margarine which is only one molecule off plastic! Saturated fats which are ok in small quantities much like armor all on your tires, it looks great on the side walls but if you get any on the treads……well……let’s hope stopping isn’t in your near future! Poly unsaturated / essential fatty acids Omega 3 & 6, are necessary in the diet because they are not made by the human body yet necessary in many ways. They help with inflammation, immune response, blood clotting and blood pressure to name the big ones. Then there was one! Well I mean monounsaturated fatty acids that are contained in foods like Avocados, Pistachios, and Olive oil are high in this good fat. This fat can lower your cholesterol and help protect you from heart attack and stroke! So don’t ditch the fats, just get the right ones!
Proteins are the mechanic for your Lexus, as muscles are damaged during workouts proteins are needed for repair and maintenance. Proteins are broken into two main groups, complete and incomplete. Your 9 complete proteins must be consumed every day because your body does not make them. They easiest way to get them comes from meat, fish, eggs, and milk, but vegans and vegetarians accomplish the exact same goal with just a little more effort. The other 13 incomplete proteins are found in beans, peas, vegetables, and cereals.
When you hear a trainer speak to protein supplements they are broken down a little differently. The two main types are Casein and Whey. Casino is the long acting Protein and many times used as a snack before you go to bed. Whey protein has 3 types, concentrate, isolate, and hydrolysate. Concentrate is the least expensive and for most people work great because it is easy on the budget and fulfills that need for a portable and good protein source. Isolate is further filtered so it is faster acting and gets into your system quicker, good for use as a pre or post workout supplement. Hydrolysate is the most expensive due to the added and expensive processing it goes through. This is typically only as a post workout and normally only needed or used by finely tuned athletes. You can get all the protein you need from your diet but if you have questions about supplementation speak with your trainer.
So in summery most adults should get between 40 and 60% of their calories from carbohydrates, 10 to 20% from good fats and 20 - 30% from proteins. The range is based on what your specific needs are but unless you are a highly trained and supervised athlete the range is usually set at a 50/30/20 split.
Thomas Harnett BSAS, CFT, Emt-P 937-470-6815 cell 937-748-9905 office email@example.com