Whether it’s to stay healthy change body composition or increase performance, nutrition is just as important as your training program. Proper nutrition will help facilitate your fitness, health and wellness goals. There are substantial amounts of nutrition theories, diets and guidelines, but here are the basic fundamentals of nutrition to help further simplify your understanding.
A lot of times, you’ll hear fitness enthusiasts talk about “macros” in their dietary guidelines. Macros, short term for macronutrients, are the nutrients that our body utilize as energy. Macronutrients are separated in three types, Carbohydrate, Protein and Fats (and Alcohol) and are the bulk of our daily dietary intake. All three types of macronutrients’ primary role are providing the body with energy.
Carbohydrates are one of the three macro nutrients. It provides the body with 4 calories of energy per one gram of carbohydrate. It is an immediate energy source utilized in the anaerobic energy system; anaerobic glycolysis. Carbohydrates come in two forms, simple and complex.
Simple carbohydrates are the most basic form of carbs and contain one or two molecules of sugar. They are also the most immediate energy source that can be consumed in comparison with protein, fats and alcohol. Some examples of foods that contain simple carbohydrates are:
– Table sugar
– Fruit juice
– Soda pop
Complex carbs are carbohydrates with hundreds of linked sugar molecules. Complex carbohydrates consist of three types; starch, glycogen and fibre. Starch is a complex carbohydrate stored in plants and glycogen is a complex carbohydrate that we store in our muscle tissue. Out of the three types of complex carbohydrate, fibre is the only non-usable macronutrient. Some of examples of complex carbohydrates are:
Protein is perhaps the most recognized macronutrients in the fitness industry. This is because protein is critical component to body tissue such as bones, skin and muscles. Similar to carbohydrate, they provide 4 calories per gram of protein. Protein are formed from amino acids, and of the 20 amino acids that is in our body, 9 of them are classified as essential amino acids because we cannot synthesized them and they must be consumed through dietary intake. Food source that contain protein are:
– Soy beans
Some protein sources such as legumes and bok-choy are incomplete, meaning they are missing some amino acids. But as long as your diet is diverse in a variety of protein sources, the incomplete proteins can combine to make a complete protein.
Fat is the most dense energy source out of all the macronutrients. It provides 9 calories per gram of fat and is the primary source of energy during rested state and prolonged exercise such as cardiovascular training.
Fats have been notorious for having negative health factors. This is misleading because fats are extremely beneficial and essential for our body. There are three types of fats: triglycerides, phospholipids and sterols. Since our body produces phospholipids, it is not essential to include in our diet. Cholesterol is a type of sterol, and also the most common. Cholesterol is essential in our body, despite its bad reputation. It has many functions such as production of sex hormones, vitamin D and adrenal hormones.
Triglycerides is the type of fat that we intake the most. There are three types of triglycerides distinguished in the level of saturation: Saturated, Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated. Saturated fats are fats that have hydrogen bonded to every carbon atom. This is the same with trans fat. The most beneficial fat source is polyunsaturated fat, also known as omega-3 fatty acids.
Food sources containing fats are:
– whole milk
– olive oil
– peanut butter
Micronutrients are nutrients that the body require in order to maintain optimal physiological function. For example, electrolytes help maintain proper hydration and muscular function in the body. Unlike macronutrients, micronutrients are only required in small amounts. Micronutrients range from trace minerals such as zinc, magnesium, copper and iron, to organic compounds, which essentially are vitamins. Most of the time, normal dietary intake is sufficient enough to meet the requirement of micronutrients recommendations for optimal physiological functions. If dietary intake is not adequate enough to meet the micronutrient recommendations, supplements can be taken to help meet your requirements.