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Carbs, Fats, Protein. The Basics

This month we delve deeper into the world of food and look at what these things called Carbohydrates, Fats and proteins. And how they help our bodies in important ways.

The energy we consume come from macronutrients called Carbohydrates, Fats and Proteins. Whilst our body looks at these as all uses for fuel it uses each one in a different way.

The body requires a variety of nutrients to perform in the best way possible and to keep our energy up. Yes we can prefer one source to another but ultimately we need to eat all three of these macronutrients in some form.

Alcohol – I know I haven’t mentioned this as one of the three but it needs to be said. We cannot store alcohol in the body. It is the first source of energy that our body will use because if it stays in our bodies for a period of time it can be harmful and therefore it’s mainly used as heat, that’s why you get red and hot when you drink. There are the same amount of calories per pint of beer to one large slice of pizza!

Carbohydrates – These come in a variety of forms. Potatoes, Pasta, Rice, Bread, Fruits etc. We have the capacity to store around 500g of carbohydrates as a substance called glycogen. Carbohydrates draw water into the muscles and fill them out. This is why some go on a low carbohydrate diet so they lose the water and look leaner but this will affect the whole body not always in a good way. Carbohydrates are an essential source of fuel for our bodies and also makes us feel fuller for longer. There are 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate.

Proteins – Muscle mass is around 30% protein and the average man has about 30kg of muscle mass so we can store around 10kg of protein in our bodies. This is a lot and more than anyone can consume in a day. Protein isn’t really used as fuel directly and protein can almost never be stored as fat, but if over consumed it can be stored as a carbohydrate and used as fuel in a process called gluconeogenesis. Protein is mainly used in muscle repair and building. There are 4 calories per gram of protein.

Fats – As we all probably know from our own experiences that we can store an endless amount of fats in our bodies somewhere. You may have heard the saying “eat fat and burn fat” this isn’t always true as our dietary fat will be used first as energy rather that our stored fats. Fats are essential to our brain function and also to keep us warm and insulated. There are also good fats and bad fats that affect our bodies. We need to consume more Good fats “unsaturated fat” as they lower our disease risk eg. Vegetable oil, nuts, seeds, fish etc. Rather than the Bad fats “Tran’s fats” as these clog our arteries and raise our risk of diseases eg. Processed foods, foods cooked in hydrogenated oil. We also have Saturated fats which can be consumed in moderation eg. Red meat, butter, cheese, ice cream etc. There are 9 calories per gram of fat.

So to sum these up it is important to have a varied and balanced diet to keep our bodies fuelled the best and as in a previous article calories are key to weight gain and weight loss but these calories are made up of the above.

I hope you found this informative and next month August we will give you a workout you can do on your summer holidays and also tips on how to enjoy yourself but also watch what you eat!

Carl

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