They are our main source of energy and contain 4 calories per gram. Carbohydrates are found in fruits, vegetables, pasta, grains, sugars, cereals and rice.
They can be classified as simple or complex carbohydrates and are converted to glucose before absorbed in the bloodstream. Then they are either burned for energy or stored for later use.
Simple carbs are found in fruit, dairy and table sugar and are absorbed quickly into the bloodstream.
Pasta, potatoes, oats, grains and vegetables contain complex carbohydrates which have to be broken into simple carbohydrates before absorbed into the bloodstream.
Rapid absorption of glucose causes insulin to rise and it turns our signal to store fat. Insulin spikes make us crave sweet and unhealthy things. The insulin rids blood of glucose leaving us tired and craving more glucose to replace the glucose that has been emptied out of the bloodstream.
Ideally, our carb intake should be based on whole pieces of food, steamed vegetables, dairy and oats.
Dietary fats are vital for optimal performance and weight control, as well as sustaining life. Fats have 9 calories per gram.
Saturated fats raise bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels and therefore enhance chances of heart disease. They can be found in margarine, potato chips, popcorns and other fast food.
Unsaturated fats come from plant sources such as nuts, seeds, olives, olive oil, flax seed oil and fish.
Both types of fat provide satiety, improved taste and texture of foods, energy and slowed absorption of other nutrients. Fat is important for building new cells and normal brain development and nerve function. It is also necessary for carrying and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K) and carotenoids.
Fat should make up 25-30% of total calorie intake. It is just important to mostly consume good, unsaturated fats. A handful of nuts, a little bit of olive oil in your salad and plenty of fish will provide you with enough unsaturated fats throughout the day.
Saturated fats should come from dairy and meat instead of fast and junk food.
Protein breaks down into amino acids, the building blocks that repair and regenerate cells of the body, including muscles. It makes you feel full faster than fats and carbohydrates, it has 4 calories per gram and it can be found in poultry, meat, dairy products, soy, tofu, beans and eggs.
People who are trying to build lean muscle mass with resistance training should consume about 1.5 g of proteins per every pound of ideal body weight.
If you are restricting calorie intake for weight loss, you need to ensure that you’re still consuming at least 1 g per pound of ideal body weight and optimally 1.5 g per pound in order to prevent any muscle loss while cutting fat. The key is to put quality protein sources like chicken, turkey and seafood into your diet.
Make proteins the center of every meal and then choose healthy carbs and fats you want to add to it for an easy, healthy meal building.