17 Oct Understanding macro-nutrients: why they are important for weight loss and energy
Macro-nutrients are nutrients that your body requires in large quantities for fuel. They give you the energy you require to exercise and perform daily activities. The common forms of macro-nutrients are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Your body also needs micro-nutrients which are vitamins and minerals. Although your system does not require excessive amounts of micro-nutrients, they are still crucial to creating a balanced, health system.
protein is a critical macro-nutrient
The essential macro-nutrient that your body requires is protein. It builds muscle, boosts your body’s recovery time, improves your immune system, aids digestion, and helps your system burn fat. Protein fuels the creation of lean muscle as opposed to unwanted fat when consumed after a workout.
Here are a few key functions of protein:
- Builds muscle
- Maintains the heart’s strength
- Improves liver function
- Helps the kidneys flush out toxins from the body
- Promotes the growth of blood cells
- Increases healthy hair and nail growth
- Supports bone and teeth health
- Assists the body in building antibodies to fight infections
Protein and weight Loss
Your body knows that it requires an ample amount of protein to function correctly. This is why when you consume protein-rich foods you feel full and satisfied. A diet that contains abundant protein promotes weight loss. The consumption of protein assists the body’s thermogenesis which increases your metabolism. It makes you feel not only full but also energized.
carbohydrates and energy
Carbohydrates are the body’s best source of fuel. Carbs are converted into glucose by the body. Even the brain requires carbs to function at peak performance. Foods that are fiber-rich and boast complex carbohydrates help your body maintain healthy digestion. The bulk of the fiber removes unwanted waste from the body plus regulates hormones and cholesterol. Many gastrointestinal conditions such as diverticulitis and colon cancer are prevented by consuming such fiber-rich foods. The body also stores the glucose for later use as glycogen in the muscles and liver. Unfortunately, if you do not exercise and use the glucose for fuel, it is converted into stored fat.
Your body takes far longer to digest complex carbohydrates, so your energy level is steadily maintained. Ideally, you should consume starches only during your daytime meals. Choose only two portions of grain-based starch with one vegetable to keep a healthy balance of carbohydrates and good fiber throughout the day. If you are an athlete who is undergoing extensive training during the day, then you should consume only small to moderate amounts of complex carbohydrates in the evening. This allows the body time to replenish muscle glycogen stores for recovery during the night and to prepare you for your morning workout.
High glycemic index carbohydrates
When planning your evening meal, remember that root vegetables have a high glycemic index when cooked and should be avoided. They release sugar very slowly in your system. Combine such vegetables with a protein to successfully slow down the release of the glucose into your bloodstream. Avoid eating them in the evening hours or your body will more than likely convert the starch to stored fat if you have not just completed an extensive evening training session.
During the day, consume fiber-rich foods that will not upset your blood sugar levels like a starchy vegetable. Ideally, you must eat at least one grain-based fiber source plus four servings of vegetables and fruits.
- Grain-based carbohydrates
- All salad foods
- All fruits
- Vegetables (non-starchy vegetables can be consumed throughout the day)
Fruit are simple complex carbohydrates
Fruits are rich sources of minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients. They contain simple sugars and are low in calories. You can enjoy a variety of seasonal fruits to create variety in your diet. Ideally, you should try to consume one to three serving of fruit per day.
Yellow and Orange: Yellow and orange fruits are excellent sources of alpha and beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, and zeaxanthin.
Blue and Black: Blue and black colored fruits are brimming with polyphenolic anthocyanin antioxidants.
Understanding the glycemic index (GI)
The Glycemic Index is a classification used to classify foods based on their potential to increase blood glucose. To control glucose, you should pick foods that are low on the Glycemic Index. Remember that different foods have different effects on your blood glucose levels. Such responses are referred to as the glycemic response. The glycemic response refers to how quickly your body absorbs the glucose after you consume it, how high your blood glucose rises, and then how quickly it returns to normal. Foods listed high on the Glycemic Index promptly increase your blood sugar level.
Saturated, Mono-unsaturated and Polyunsaturated: Fats are a concentrated source of energy and are essential for all cells of the body such as the immune system and the They are also required for the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated
Fats considered ‘good’ fats are classified as mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated. They are good for your heart, control your cholesterol levels, and improve your health. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are critical for regulating metabolism, maintaining brain function, and supporting the reproductive system. Any healthy diet contains a balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6.
Saturated fats often cause an increase in your LDL cholesterol levels. Stearic acid (lard and cocoa butter) do not increase cholesterol levels, but lauric, myristic, and palmitic acids do.
On a daily basis, it is beneficial to count macro-nutrients by balancing meals so that your body’s energy comes from a combination of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Maintaining your energy levels helps you lose weight. Eating a balanced diet not only provides your body with the nutrients that it requires to function at peak performance but you will even feel more energized and ready to tackle whatever life throws at you.