Aside from stopping hunger and tasting good, we sometimes forget the actual purpose of food when we eat.
Humans are a complicated mix of billions upon billions of chemical reactions all coinciding with one another simultaneously, just to complete our basic functions- let alone when training for specific events. To supply the energy needed for even day to day events takes alot of meticulous work that we take for granted.
You might have heard the phrase “empty calories” when describing junk food, alcohol etc. That simply means that your body will not gain anything from those calories, there is nothing in them to allow for repair and growth of the muscular system for example.
What we put in is equal to that which we get out. If you eat foods that provide your body with no energy or nutrients then you can expect to be lethargic and lacking motivation. The first conversation I often have with clients is what they are eating, I need to know how because ultimately, it will affect how I train them and how they subsequently recover.
Calories per gram
Not only is there a difference between the components of micronutrients and how they affect our bodies. There is also a difference in the energy factor that comes with each one:
Carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram. They are also the principle nutrient for energy delivery into the muscle. Advice that says carbs should be avoided for weight loss are for lazy people that don’t want to exercise. If you avoid carbs then your blood sugar levels will suffer and thus, your energy levels. Don’t factor carbs out, factor exercise in.
Fat. Fat is the taboo word in the health industry, one side will adamantly oppose the consumption of saturated fat, and another group are more open to it being included in the diet. My advice is to find the science that you agree with and follow that. But it’s important to remember that fat is also a fuel source (when it comes from good sources such as Salmon). It also contributes to protection of organs and is a vital macronutrient again, from the right source. Fat contains 9 calories per gram which is important to remember if you are a calorie counter and also means you don’t need huge amounts of it.
Lastly, Protein, this also contains 4 calories per gram. A hugely important macronutrient and one that should be a major part of anyone’s diet- regardless of whether they train or not. It is very hard to convert protein to fat, so even if you aren’t very active but considering it, it can be useful to get the bulk of your energy from this macronutrient. Protein can contribute to the accumulation of lean muscle mass, so alongside a good training program. You can see some good results!