In the article “Eating for Health and Success Part 1” I discussed the two macro-nutrients “Carbohydrates and Fats”. This article will explain in more detail the macro-nutrient “Protein” and the essential nutrient “Fiber”. Besides it’s protective qualities, fiber helps to promote efficient intestinal function and regulate the balanced absorption of sugars in the blood stream.
Dietary fibers are broken down into two categories: soluable and insoluable. As North Americans we normally consume about 12 grams of fiber daily. It is recommended that we eat 25 to 30 grams (“more than double”) of fiber as stated by the American Heart Association and the National Cancer Institute. An increase in your dietary fiber will result in a decrease in your body fat as well as caloric consumption.
The next macro-nutrient I would like to discuss is “protein”. It is an organic compound of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. Your body uses protein to make structural and biochemical reactions that are required for muscle contraction, cardiovascular system, and the immunity from disease. The energy yield of a protein is 4 calories per 1 gram. The ultimate value of food protein or protein supplements is it’s “amino acid” composition which plays a major role in both performance and recovery.
There are two types of protein we consume on a daily basis and they are complete proteins and incomplete proteins. Complete proteins like milk, eggs, beef, chicken, pork, whey, and casein carry all the essential amino acids. Incomplete proteins like vegetables, fruits, rice, grains, seeds, and nuts are deficient of one or more of amino acids.
The amount of protein you should consume daily depends on your body. As a serious weight lifter, I normally take in 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per 1 pound of body weight. When designing a meal plan I would divide my total number of protein grams by five or six (“number of meals per day”).
When you eat more protein then is required your body will store the excess as fat. The conversion from protein to stored fat is done by the liver. The thing you need to consider if your are planning to partake in a “high protein” diet program is the duration of time you will be doing it. There is a condition known as “urea” (“a highly toxic form of ammonia”) which may develop if protein intake is too high over a long period of time. Normally, the urea in your body is excreted, but if an over abundance occurs it can place strain on your liver and kidneys. Also, excess urea is often responsible for a form of arthritis known as “gout”.
There is a lot that one needs to know when dealing with protein intake. Individuals involved in heavy resistance training do require more protein but you still need to be careful not to overdo it. People should drink lots of water when taking protein as this will help in the repair of tissues that are damaged during training.
In conclusion, I would recommend doing as much research as possible before taking any kind of protein supplements. There are many different brands on the market today so special care should be taken. The more information you learn the better understanding you will have. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of having a well-balanced diet consisting of carbohydrates, protein, and fats. If you are unsure about anything regarding what you should be doing, consult your doctor and nutritionist. As I mentioned earlier, the body requires 6 essential nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. The key to everything is balance and moderation. Your body will give you what you give it!
By Jeff Garofalo BA, CFT, LFC
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