by Austin Blout
Nutrition is a dense subject and there is a lot of information out there. Whether using nutrition and diet to lose weight, gain mass or trying to maintain what you have, the following should provide some insight to the basics behind nutrition.
“Calorie” is simply a nutritional unit of measurement for energy. A calorie has actually been simplified from the term kilocalorie which is 1000 calories, or the amount of energy it takes to raise a liter of water one degree. So fun fact: every “calorie” that you eat is actually a single kilocalorie or 1000 calories. Each person requires a different amount of calories for maintenance but the average recommendation is 2000 calories per day. You get these calories through “macronutrients” which are carbohydrates, fat and protein. Each macronutrient has a different role and characteristics:
Carbohydrates are used strictly for energy. They are the easiest to break down and the first energy source your body uses. However, if you consume more than you need, the excess is converted to fat. These provide 4 calories per gram.
Fats are the most energy dense of the macronutrients providing 9 calories per gram. These are like your logs for fire. Generally speaking, they are the next energy source used after carbohydrates are depleted.
Other functions of fats are:
-Protecting vital organs
-Metabolism and more!
Proteins provide 4 calories per gram and are the last resort for energy. Proteins are the main building blocks of your body including:
-Skin, hair, nails, and more
Proteins are made of amino acids. When all 9 amino acids are present in a food it is considered a “complete protein.” These can come from animal sources or some plant based products such as buckwheat, quinoa and soy. If you do not get all the aminos at the same time it is considered an “incomplete” protein but your body puts the amino acids together to create complete proteins. However, understand that every process in the body requires energy.
Now that you have an idea of macronutrients and their roles in the body, here is a guide to how much you need in your diet.
- For weight loss 1 – 1.5 grams/per pound of body weight.
- Resistance training (training for muscle hypertrophy or strength): 1.4 – 1.8 grams per kilogram of body weight.
- About 30 percent of total daily calories should come from fat. This means eating about 0.4 grams per pound of body weight.
- The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 50 to 150 grams of carbohydrates for weight loss.
Life Hack: Carbohydrates are weird. There are two classes of carbohydrates that are helpful for weight loss. Fiber and starch. Fiber is like draino, helping to sweep your intestines clean. Starch is a dense form of carbohydrate that takes energy to be broken down (Complex Carbohydrate).
Pairing good nutrition with consistent exercise is the best way to start taking control of your weight.