We know these are essential to our diet but why? These three macronutrients and the amount we eat of each in ratio are essential to our dieting weight loss/gain success. It is beneficial to you, to understand how what you are eating is affecting your body or know exactly what it is doing.
Fats are our greatest stored macronutrient. When we ingest fats what does not get used right away has a much slower breakdown process as well as a more vast storage option. Fats can be stored as visceral fat (around our organs), subcutaneous adipose tissue (under our skin), or within our muscles. In addition to protection of bodily structures and warmth, fats provide us with a great energy source. The only problem with the energy source is the limited access to use fats. Fats can carry us through for days. The issue is it takes a long time to send messages to the triglycerides (fats) that they are needed for energy. This is why an upwards of 60-90 minutes is recommended for fat burning exercises. Once the signal and message is received, fats become the primary source of fuel. Metabolism has a great deal to do with how efficient this message system works. If we are losing insulin sensitivity it will also slow down our metabolic response.
If we want to preserve our fats, our choice exercises should be assessed. If we want to burn fat, this is also something to take into account for programming. Keep in mind it is much easier to burn carbohydrates. Carbohydrates that are not used get stored as triglycerides (fats). This is why being cautious of our carbohydrate intake and timing is important.
Carbohydrates (CHO) have been debated back and forth about being good or bad for our eating habits. The key to success with CHO is knowing how much and when. Our body is going to store our food based on what our body is doing and think it needs. The best time to restore CHO is during or after a workout. If you get a few hours past this time period low glycemic foods are recommended because it is slowly taken up into the blood stream versus high glycemic, which is fast and causes a great rise in insulin levels and fat stores. When we are in our workout or immediate post work out time frame, our insulin plays a different role and the carbohydrates can be taken right up by the muscles.
Something many of us may be familiar with is, carb loading is good before a sporting event or eating a pasta dinner the night before your game. There is truth to this however it may be slightly missing the mark.
Yes, CHO are our main fuel source for sports and activities. This is important to know. However, the timing of when we eat our CHO will determine how much of it is going to our muscles or being stored as fat. Eating a pasta dinner the night before the game will help restore glycogen in the muscles but it is not the most optimal way to do so. Starchy or high glycemic foods cause a great spike in insulin in addition to storing a lot of the sugars as fat. The best time to eat your pasta dinner is right after your game or previous practice.
Keep in mind although our brain chips away at our CHO stores, CHO is mainly only used for activities. This means it is encouraged to minimize CHO intake on non-active days. If you find you are traveling for the majority of a day, or sitting at a desk and aren’t making it to the gym, CHO these days are not necessary or should be kept to a minimum and should be low glycemic. Think of CHO as they’re for energy use. If it is not used it will get stored as fat.
Proteins are the foundation of our structure. It doesn’t matter if you run 10 miles a day or walk 10 steps a day, protein is needed and is the most important macronutrient to sustain our health and structure. We should be eating protein every four to six hours. For those who fast or try to obtain from eating to make up for the desert from last night, withstanding from protein is a set back and will cause protein degradation. This means if we are not providing protein for our body, it will start to breakdown the protein it does have, our muscles. Often times if we are losing weight by obtaining from food we are not losing fat, we are losing muscle. Serving sizes of protein is recommended around 25-30g. The number of servings per day is based on lean body mass, which is why it typically varies between four and six.