If there was one essential lesson in my life which I would haved liked to learn earlier, then it would generally read as follows:
The 3 basic elements of food are proteins, carbohydrates (“carbs”) and fats.
These are also known as macronutrients. Apart from these 3, the other elements of food equate to vitamins and minerals, also known as micronutrients. The scope of this article will focus on macronutrients whereas details relating to micronutrients will be explained in a future separate article.
1 gram of fats = 9 calories, 1 gram of proteins = 4 calories, 1 gram of carbs = 4 calories
Calories are needed to provide energy to the body so that it can function properly.
When the body is at rest i.e. when we are sitting down, when we are eating, when we are sleeping, the body still needs energy to perform these basic activities. Funnily enough, most of the calories your body burns during the day are burned when at rest. However that does not mean that your body burns more calories during sedentary activities but of course more calories are spent while exercising.
The energy source that the body uses when at rest comes from fats. Hence the body uses fats to keep your heart beating, your brain communicating and your lungs breathing. The number of calories it takes to maintain these basic functions, excluding physical activity, is known as the Resting Metabolic Rate (“RMR”). People with faster metabolism, have a higher RMR and hence burn more fats to maintain the aforementioned activities.
The energy source that the body uses when exercising comes from carbs. If it does not find any carbs, then the body will turn to the stored body fat and muscle to obtain its energy, with the former being the major source. Carbs which are not burned through training, will store as body fat, which clearly we do not want.
The protein calories we eat allow the body muscle to grow and also recover after exercise, fight infections and regulate hormones. Muscle itself is made of protein fibres.
Therefore, with the above in mind, I make sure my diet includes enough fats to keep my body functioning properly while at rest, enough carbs just about to take me through my workouts and sufficient proteins to allow my muscles to grow and recover.
Even though the above is very basic, its importance is immense and the knowledge of such is vital for anyone wanting to achieve a lean healthy body through exercise and nutrition. Most probably after having read this article you may have come up with many questions to which you would like an answer. I say fair enough! I therefore invite you to stay tuned for the upcoming articles which I will be gradually bringing to you for a follow up on this first lesson in nutrition.
To fitness with love,