Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Carbs, Fats, and Protein! Oh my!

This blog post is intended to give you a basic understanding of the energy yielding nutrients. Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are all energy yielding nutrients which simply means that they contain calories.
Carbohydrates and proteins contain 4 calories/gram while fats contain 9 calories/gram.

Let's start with carbs. The body needs carbohydrates mostly for energy. Their main role is to supply fuel, primarily in the form of glucose, the predominant sugar in high-carbohydrate foods, to your cells. The brain relies on glucose to function, as do the red blood cells. Simple and complex are the 2 types of carbohydrates. Simple and complex carbs are differentiated by their chemical structures and how quickly they are absorbed and digested by the body. Simple carbohydrates are absorbed quickly by the body which is why they are best eaten post-workout. Examples of simple carbs are white bread, table sugar, dextrose, and honey. Complex carbs are digest at a slower rate than simple carbs. The majority of your carbs should be complex. Sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, and oatmeal are examples of complex carbs.

Fat has a bad rap but it
is an important source of energy and helps the absorption of some compounds. Fat also insulates the body and cushions the major organs. Another very important function of fats is the transportation and use of vitamins A, D, E, K, and for other substances which are fat soluble. Without fat in the diet, those vitamins would not be able to function. This would result in severe problems with eyesight, skin, nail formation, blood clotting, kidney function, bone growth and repair, reproductive functions, and cellular energy. Additionally, some of the fatty acids that make up fats are absolutely necessary for life. They are called essential fatty acids (or EFAs), because they must be eaten. Fats slow stomach digestion and passage of foods through the intestinal path. This important fat function gives the body the necessary time to absorb the essential nutrients in the protein food, which historically has been in shorter supply. Healthy sources of fat are avocados, nuts, sardines, tuna, and salmon.

I saved the best for last!
Proteins are compounds in your body that consist of numerous amino acids and are found in all living cells. Protein is critical to the maintenance of a lean body. Lean sources of protein include egg whites, chicken breasts, turkey breasts, buffalo, fish, Greek yogurt, and cottage cheese. If you are trying to build and maintain lean muscle mass, consume 1 ounce of protein per pound of body weight daily.

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