We've read countless blogs and health-related websites that spout erroneous nutrition information. This is plain wrong and we don't want you to be misinformed any longer. Oftentimes, we see "nutritionists" spouting out the word carbohydtrates only when referring to bread, pastas, and grains...and then they usually say something like, "Don't Eat Carbs" or "Carbohydrates Are Bad For You," both of which are blatant lies.
To correct this problem, we want to give you the basic definitions in nutrition so you can make informed, educated decisions for your life. You can also weed out the good sites from the ones just trying to make a buck off you.
Carbohydrates are made up of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen molecules. They provide tons of energy to the body, and are classified as monosaccharides, disaccharides, and polysaccharides.
A monosaccharide contains one sugar unit, and disaccharide contains two, and a poly- contains more than two. Mono- and disaccharides are simple carbs and polysaccharides are complex saccharides. It used to be thought that all simple carbohydrates were absorbed quickly, resulting in elevated blood-glucose levels, but that isn't always true since some simple carbs are pushed through different metabolic channels.
Let's look at each carb type:
Monosaccharide: glucose, galactose, fructose, and xylose
Disaccharide: Sucrose, lactose, maltose, trehalose
Polysaccharide:Maltodextrins, Raffinose, stachyose, fructo-oligosaccharides, Amylose, amylopectin, modified starches, Cellulose, hemicellulose, pectins, hydrocolloids
So what foods contain carbs? Well, fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, legumes, and dairy.
A single gram of carbohydrates contains approximately 4 calories (varies on the food).
Recently, studies have shown that carbohydrates are not required for life, but a lack of carbs may raise mortality rates and cause significant health issues. The average person should aim for 25-50% of carbs in their diet each day depending on their activity levels.
Just remember, don't ever listen to a website that calls for no carbs, but then lists vegetables as a part of the diet...it demonstrates their incredible lack of education. Eat carbs if you want, just make sure that they come from the earth and not from the junk food drawer.
Proteins are created through the combination of amino acids, which are labeled are essential or nonessential. Essential amino acids must be attained through the diet, while the body can manufacture nonessential amino acids.
Proteins are responsible for building muscle, skin, hair, and other important structural elements of the body. They are responsible for hundreds of processes in the body as well. Proteins are also imperative for energy.
A molecule of protein is comprised of amino acids and nitrogen. Proteins are either complete or incomplete. A complete protein contains all of the essential amino acids, which is super important.
For a super long time, the nutrition community thought that amino acid pairs had to be eaten together in order to complete a protein, but that has idea has been discarded through scientific studies. Vegetarians and vegan can eat various protein sources throughout the day to make complete proteins.
How Much Do You Need?
The fitness community is telling everybody and their mothers that they need at least 1 gram of protein for every pound you weigh, but that is not factual, nor is it smart (unless you are super active, a professional athlete, or a bodybuilder). In fact, and active person may require 25% of their diet to be protein. If you are not an incredibly active, hardcore gym rate/bodybuilder, you just don't need that much protein.
Nutrition experts agree that a person requires roughly 1 gram of protein for every kilogram of body weight. That turns out to be about half of your weight. If you weigh 120, you should aim for about 60 grams of protein every day.
The Dietary Reference Intake suggests a minimum of 46 grams for women and 56 grams for men. It's okay to go higher than that, and many find themselves consuming far more that their minimum requirement every day. A high protein diet is okay, but just like a high carb diet, any excess energy will be converted to fat when the body doesn't need it.
You want to hit that minimum amount because the body will wat your muscles if it doesn't get enough energy from your stored fat or food eaten every day.
What Are Some Common Protein Sources?
Fats are super important to the diet despite many fads and trends floating across the internet. Like other macronutrients, moderation is key. A fat molecule is usually comprised of a glycerol backbone and three fatty acids, better known as a triglyceride. Fat is further classified as saturated or unsaturated. This is just a differentiation in the structure.
Saturated fat typically comes from animal sources, while unsaturated fat comes from plant sources. Most fatty acids can be made by the body, but not all of them, which are denoted as essential fatty acids. Omega-3 and Omega-6 are essential fatty acids that shouldbe consumed in a 1-to-1 ratio.
Fats are very important because the body needs them to regulate hormones and the metabolism. Not to mention, we must have fat in order to absorb vitamin A, E, K, and D.
A gram of fat contain roughly 9 calories. When a molecule of fat is broken down it can be used by the liver as energy.
Sources of Fat:
-Salmon and other fatty cuts of meat
That's all for today. The next time we talk about nutrition basics, we will go over vitamins, minerals, and the smaller pieces that make up human nutrition.
Sites We Love
The Baker Chick
The Candida Diet
Super Healthy Kids
Wake Up World
No Meat Athlete
American Nutrition Assoc.
Lean it Up
Muscle and Fitness