Nutrition explained in brief
Nutrition is the fundamental to life. The body needs nutrients to live, We consume food and drink to stay alive, it provides the body with energy (along with hundreds of other benefits). Along with it keeping us alive, it also makes a major impact on sports performance, fitness, losing weight, gaining muscle, improving day to day life, mental health and increasing life expectancy.
It has an enormous effect on sporting performance and can make or break someone’s sporting career, if their nutrition is in check they can achieve there goals and achieve even more than they had hoped for, however if its poor and it hinders there gains they will likely lose motivation and quit.
Some people spend hours a week in the gym, wasting all there precious time and money and still not meeting the goals they had hoped for. A majority of the time this is down to nutrition. The main nutrients are broken down into two categories, Macro and Micro.
Macro nutrients are the nutrients that are needed in much larger quantities than other nutrients; there are 3 types of nutrients that fall into this category, Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats.
Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for the body; this makes them one of the most vital nutrients in a standard diet. They are made up off 3 different elements, carbon, hydrogen and oxygen (CHO).
Carbohydrates can be split into two groups, complex (CC) and simple (SC). Complex carbohydrates are made up of more complex bonds, therefore taking longer to break down and releasing there energy slower but lasting longer. Simple carbohydrates are made up of few bonds, normally 1 or 2 and therefore can be broken down and converted to glycogen a lot faster, because of this they release there energy very fast but are also used up very fast.
Protein: Protein is another vital nutrient; the amino acids that come with the protein are the building blocks to muscles and are responsible for the growth and repair of the muscles. Protein is the final energy back up after carbohydrates and fats but is rarely accessed in large amounts for energy by the average person.
Protein is often measured by quality, the amino acid make up of the protein; some foods provide more essential amino acids in higher amounts so therefore they are more valuable to the body. Amino acids come in different forms, some forms are best suited to certain situations for example, ‘free form’ is well suited for post-workout as it doesn’t require digestion and it’s transferred straight in the blood stream, this can be found in supplements such as glutamine.
Proteins other functions include: the manufacture of hormones, antibodies, enzymes, and tissues. It also helps maintain the proper acid-alkali balance in the body.
Fats Dependant on what fats people consume this nutrient can be seen as the worst. However if people strictly moderate there bad fat consumption and get nearly all there RDI of fat from healthy fats then It isn’t such an issue. Healthy fats play important role in the body such as healthy brain development, reducing life threatening diseases such as heart disease, reducing LDL (low-density lipoproteins).
Consuming bad fats basically works in reverse, causing all the life threatening diseases that healthy plant based fats help to reduce and of course along with sugar being the main cause in obesity. There are several different types of fats: Saturated Fat – Saturated fat is a natural fat found in all dairy products and animal products. The liver uses fat to manufacture cholesterol, therefore a diet containing a high amount of saturated fat can increase bad LDL cholesterol levels. Even though saturated fats can cause some major health problems if not consumed in moderation they do have some use in the body, it slows down meal absorption giving the ‘feel full feeling’ for longer, provides the building blocks for cell membranes, carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E and K.
Polyunsaturated – This too is a natural fat, found in some fish, corn, beans, oils. These work against saturated fat and help to reduce bad diseases such as LDL. The only problem is if consumed in a large amount they may start to reduce your HDL (high-density lipoproteins) which is the good cholesterol.
Mono unsaturated – These are arguably the most healthy fat to consume, found mainly in oils, nuts, vegetables and some fish they have all the benefits that polyunsaturated fats do while not reducing the HDL which is our good cholesterol.
Trans-fatty acids – These are the worst type of fats around, often found in fried food and treats such as cakes and sweets. Also known as ‘Trans’ fats or hydrogenated fats these have been slated by health professionals in recent years, for this reason a lot of big companies have changed back to natural oils for use in or with there products. Trans fats like saturated increase LDL but grant none of the health benefits saturated fats did, if that’s not bad enough they also reduce HDL which is the good cholesterol.
However cutting out entire food groups should be considered unwise especially if you are pregnant, lactating and a pregnant mother/ surrogate mother. Your body requires the full spectrum of nutrients, so using a food grade, organic supplement may also be advisable due to soil deficiencies in the current mono crop systems, combined with frequent heavy processing of some foods.