Whether you are a person who leads a sedentary lifestyle or someone who trains regularly, one of the most important things you need to focus on besides exercising is nutrition. The key is you should eat 5 to 6 small meals daily so that your blood sugars and insulin levels always be maintained (“as well as your energy level”). Planning your meals ahead of time may take some work on your part but the benefits in the end are quite rewarding. By doing this you are able to keep track of just how much you are eating per meal.
A caloric ratio that I was taught and seems to work well is one part fat, two parts protein, and three parts carbohydrates. Depending on the intensity of your training program and your daily schedule, you may need more or less carbohydrates for energy.
Fat is also another form of energy your body uses besides carbohydrates and it’s something your body needs to maintain proper health. It may sound strange to some people when you tell them that fat is important in both your diet and in the makeup of your body, but it’s true! Besides the health maintaining principles, fat is required to manufacture certain hormones in your body, so don’t eliminate it from your diet. The key here is to keep saturated fats (“from animal sources”) low and unsaturated fats (“from canola oil or olive oil”) predominantly high.
Carbohydrates are considered to be the best nutrients when it comes to our body’s energy supplier. A balanced nutritional program will consist of about 50% to 60% carbohydrates per daily intake. They are classified under three categories: monosaccharides, disaccharides, and polysaccharides. Simple sugars like glucose and fructose fall into the monosaccharides category. Disaccharides can be best described as table sugar (“sucrose”) and a sugar found in milk (“lactose”). The third and final carbohydrate is the polysaccharide or more commonly known as the “complex carbohydrate”. These starches or starch like sugars (“dextrins, cellulose, pectin, and glycogen”) are found in whole grains, vegetables, nuts, and certain types of fruits and legumes.
The energy yield of one carbohydrate is 4 calories per 1 gram and the one thing you should be aware of is that our bodies can only absorb monosaccharides (“glucose, galactose, and fructose”). Once absorbed through the small intestines into the portal vein; it is then circulated into the blood stream through the liver as blood glucose. Normally, the body burns glucose three ways: 1. immediately for instant energy; 2. stored in the liver and muscle (“80 to 100 grams in the liver and 300 to 600 grams in the muscle”) depending on muscle mass. In most cases liver glycogen supplies energy to the entire body and muscle glycogen supplies energy to the muscle. 3. excess glucose, if all other areas are full, is converted to fat by the liver and stored as adipose tissue (“body fat”). These excessive fatty acids can be burned as fuel.
So in conclusion, the body needs six nutrients in order to survive. They are best known as “macro-nutrients” which include carbohydrates, proteins, and fats and “micro-nutrients” which include vitamins and minerals. I would also like to mention that water is classified as the sixth nutrient which I discussed in one of my previous articles. My next article will talk mostly about the needs for protein and fiber.
Eating for a healthy successful lifestyle requires planning and careful consideration. A balance of both the micro-nutrients and macro-nutrients will result in a person running in peak performance. If you are unsure about something, talk to your doctor, nutritionist, or pharmacist. The better you treat your body, the better your body is going to treat you
By Jeff Garofalo BA, CFT, LFC
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