If you are reading this you are likely like myself, acutely aware of the recommendations and changes within the health and fitness world. As a nutritionist, nurse and personal trainer, I’m always cautiously curious when I learn about new “trends”.
LETS START AT THE VERY BEGINNING.
MACRONUTRIENTS — proteins, carbohydrates and fats — essential nutrients the body requires in large amounts to maintain optimal function. For healthy individuals, the recommendations for macronutrients averages by the 60/30/10 rule. Sixty percent of your daily caloric intake should consist of complex carbohydrates, 30 percent healthy fats and 10 percent of your daily intake should consist of lean protein.
Now you might have noticed some key works in there. COMPLEX. LEAN. HEALTHY. Remember these. Each of these words hold significant value for you in reaching your nutrition, fitness and health goals.
PROTEIN– WHAT IS IT?
Protein is a macronutrient used by our bodies to assist in muscle growth and development, healing, immune function and the building blocks to much of our bodies structure. Protein comes from multiple sources, however is mainly found in animal products in its complete form.
Protein is not made by our bodies and therefore must be consumed to make sure we are maintaining the daily recommended amount of 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. Being vegetarian, vegan or using alternative protein sources doesn’t limit your ability to meet your protein goals. It is important however to make sure you are choosing foods to create complete proteins assuring your consuming all of your essential amino acids and getting your best bang for your buck.
Carbohydrates, also known as saccharides, as a general rule, are sugar. Sugar is converted to glucose in the body and is the most usable form energy for the body.
While the molecular structure of carbohydrates is quite complex, the most important concept to understand is how quickly the food that has been consumed breaks down into its smaller components and becomes sugar that is usable to your body.
Complex vs. Simple Carbohydrates. It’s all in the name.
Simple carbohydrates. They are simple. They consist of one or two saccharides that are connected together. This allows the body to break them down into their pieces very quickly for energy. Simple carbohydrates increase your blood sugar quickly as well, important to note if you are diabetic. High intake of simple carbohydrates will often leave you feeling tired and/or hungry shortly after consuming, resulting in the craving for more.
Examples of simple carbohydrates. Desserts, ice cream, chocolate, white pasta, breads and rice, etc.
Complex Carbohydrates. Are complex, or hard. These carbohydrates consist of many saccharides all connected together that make it more difficult and take a longer time for the body to break down the food into its multiple parts to use for energy. Thus spending more time in your belly, and providing an increased feeling of fullness for a longer period of time. Foods that are dense, hearty and provide a wealth of health benefits such as heart health, gut health, immune and brain function.
Examples of complex carbohydrates. Whole grain breads, brown rice, quinoa, oats, etc.
Need a visual? Simple carbohydrates are one or two lego blocks connected together. Complex carbohydrates have multiple lego blocks connected together. If you were to take apart the lego towers one by one, which one would take longer to separate to build something else. The body ultimately does the same thing with carbohydrates.
This is anything that exceeds the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight. This meaning for an 185 pound individual, the consumption of protein would be greater then 67 grams per day. This is often completed while significantly reducing your carbohydrate intake.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER.
For clients with chronic medical conditions, obesity class I, II, or III, or training athletes, high protein diets can be a great short term tool for rapid weight loss when the benefits outweigh the risk. It is important assess your health, fitness and nutrition goals and seek out the support of a trained/licensed individual to guide your progress.
High protein diets or any strictly restrictive diet should not be maintained for extended periods of time. The most effective and safe dietary plan is one that promotes balance of all macronutrient groups, complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats.