Nutrition: The Basics
You have a goal whether this is to lose fat, run a marathon or gain muscle, as well as putting together a well planned training program to achieve your goal, it is important that we focus on your nutrition as this will make a huge difference to your training and results. As part of my coaching will look at nutrition analysis, calories and have regular reviews however I thought that it would be helpful to provide you with some basic facts on nutrition so you can see at this early the stage the importance of getting this right and how the right nutrients can help you and your body.
Where do we get our energy from?
Macronutrients known as carbohydrates, proteins and fats
Good news!! You do not need to cut out carbs completely to lose fat - your body needs carbs, this is because:
1. Carbs is the body's preferred energy source carrying 4 kcals per gram of carbohydrate and so when you exercise your body will want to burn carbs before any other source
2. It is the only fuel source for the brain
3. It’s a great source of fibre
4. Carbs promote fat burning, yes that's PROMOTE FAT BURNING! Why? – carbs turn into glucose when digested (the stuff our body uses as energy) and glucose must be present in order to burn fat.
5. Carbs help the body spare protein from being used as an energy source – using carbohydrates as energy means protein can be used for growth and repair of body tissue ie muscle growth and repairing your muscles ready for the next session
Warning – not all carbs are good for you and we all know which ones they are - pastries, cakes etc Consuming excess carbs will lead to weight gain if your body is not using the carbs for energy. Any excess carbs turns into fat so watch out!
Proteins are not the body’s main source of energy however protein contains 4 kcal per gram and the body will use protein when carbs are low. This isn't desirable as we want to avoid the body using protein in this way as it will effect muscle growth. Maintain carbs if you want to build muscle. When protein is broken down the body will use it to build and repair muscles and body tissue, keep hair and nails healthy or use it as energy.
Believe it or not fats are our friends BUT we need to eat the right type of fats. To put it simply:
Saturated fats and trans fats = Avoid
Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats = Embrace
Fats are energy dense at 9 kcals per gram and so it is easy to over consume, we therefore need to be careful as to how much fat we eat a day.
Our body uses fats as an energy source after carbohydrates and are essential for hormone production, it acts as a cushion to vital organs and insulates the body.
Micro Nutrients - Vitamins and minerals.
We need vitamins and minerals for good health but only is small quantities.
A common questions is, Why do we need minerals?
Well, they help build healthy bones and teeth, control the fluid balance in tissues
and release energy from nutrients. Below are a few example of minerals, their jobs and the foods that contain these minerals.
Iron - Helps in the production of red blood cells which carry oxygen around the body. Iron can be found in meat, dried fruit, beans, nuts, whole grains and most dark, leafy vegetables.
Calcium - Helps build strong bones and teeth and ensures blood clots normally. Calcium can be found in dairy foods, green leafy vegetables, tofu and nuts
Zinc - Helps to make new cells, assists in the metabolism of carbohydrate, fat and protein and is involved with the healing of wounds. Zinc can be found in meat, shellfish, dairy products, bread and cereal products.