Back to the Basics
Nutrition is one of the biggest topics out there in the world of health. You’ll hear, “This diet is the best!” Then two months later, “While that diet is OK, this diet is far better!” Or my favorite, “Lose 1000lbs in the next 6 minutes” diet.
I believe in order to be successful, then you need to understand the basics of nutrition. The most basic level of nutrition means that you need to understand the macronutrients in our diet: protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
Protein For Power
Whether you are referencing our muscles, connective tissue, or almost anything else in our bodies, you are referencing something that is made of protein. I would argue that protein is the most important macronutrient for our bodies.
Why? Well, without it then nothing in our bodies could be repaired. Without it we cannot grow and develop. Without it we would cease to exist.
When looking at a nutritional label, every gram of protein will account for four of the calories listed. We will break down nutritional labels in a later post.
Proteins are made up of amino acids; which are further divided into two categories: essential and non-essential. Essential means that we MUST get it from nutrition. Our bodies are incapable of creating it from other amino acids.
Lastly, the really cool part about proteins is that they can be broken down and turned into energy through a process called gluconeogenesis (gluco = glucose [sugar/carbohydrate], neo = new, genesis = creation). This is very cool because if we don’t have the next two carbohydrates or fat for fuel, then our liver will just create energy.
Fat For More Storage
Fat is the next macronutrient we will talk about. Its primary purpose is to provide us with energy. It does other things like thermally insulate us for colder weather (not the Zac Brown Band song), support visceral organs, and make us better snuggle buddies.
When looking at the same nutritional label, one gram of fat will equal nine calories of the total listed.
Fat is one of our body's sources of energy and should be used when doing easy tasks like walking, doing chores, or light exercise. Our bodies are capable of storing large amounts of fat.
Like protein, there are essential fatty acids that we need to survive that must be consumed due to our bodies inability to produce them. These are linolenic and linoleic fatty acids.
In recent decades, fat has been given a very bad reputation for a lot of ill-founded reasons. In another post I’ll explain why we should consume more fat for energy and less of the last macronutrient I will speak of.
Carbs For Cardio
Carbohydrates are similar to fats in that they are a source of energy for the body. They make up four calories per gram when looking at a nutritional label.
If consumed at the same time as fat, our body will choose to use the carbohydrates first rather than the fat. The primary reason is that fat has a near endless amount of storage like a bear that is storing fat for winter or an old hound dog that you’ve fed too many table scraps.
However, carbohydrates are not the same. Our body is only capable of storing approximately 400 grams of carbohydrates. It stores it in our skeletal muscles and our liver. However, when this storage is full, our body will convert the excess, unused carbohydrates to fat through a process called lipogenesis (lipo = fat, genesis = creation).
Another distinguishing fact between carbohydrates and the other two macronutrients is that there is NOT an essential carbohydrate. Meaning, we could literally never eat another carbohydrate and we could still thrive; remember, our body will turn protein into carbohydrates if we don’t have any carbohydrates to use for fuel.
I hope this gives you a brief overview of each of the macronutrients and what their purpose is in the body. As the weeks go on I plan on expounding on each of them.