Ok so what do you really know about basic nutrition, calories and nutrients?
Most people do not understand the basics of nutrition which is why a large chunk of the UK population are obese. If you understand the basics this is a great start point for getting your transformation underway no matter whether you want fat loss, muscle growth or strength.
Below we have created a basic nutrition guide with a breakdown of calories and nutrients.
Today I’m going to give you the basics of nutrition.
What are Calories?
A calorie is a unit of measurement, but it doesn’t measure weight or length. A calorie is a unit of energy. When you hear something contains 100 calories, it’s a way of describing how much energy your body could get from eating or drinking it.
Macronutrients consist of 3 main groups: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We have broken them down below for you to understand better.
Carbohydrates can be divided into 3 groups sugars, starches, fibre. The role of carbohydrates is to provide the body with energy. The brain is dependent on glucose as a fuel source as well as working with the muscles during more intensive exercise. For this reason the body is able to store small amounts of carbohydrates within the liver and muscles. The useable energy from carbs is 4 calories per gram.
Protein when broken down consists of Amino Acids. There are 20 amino acids which the body uses to make the many proteins that it requires. Protein makes up the building blocks for maintenance, repair and growth of the muscles and can also be converted to fuel to be used by the body. There are 2 sources of proteins that can be found in animal and plant food sources. The useable energy from proteins is 4 calories per gram.
Fats fall into 3 categories: saturated fat, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Functions of fats are important for a balanced diet, they provide insulation under the skin, provide energy and means of energy storage, cell membranes and wall, they make up a greater percentage of the brain and spinal cord, protection for internal organs and help the body to use the fat soluble vitamins – A, D, E and K. The useable energy from fats is 9 calories per gram.
Vitamins and minerals form the micronutrients in our diet although they are needed in a smaller quantity in comparison to the macronutrients, but they remain a vital part of our diet to maintain our health
Vitamins and Minerals
Minerals occur naturally within the soil and are drawn into the plants via their roots. Vitamins are formed by plants and can be obtained in the diet by eating the appropriate plants, or by eating products from the animals that have eaten those plants. Thus diets rich in vegetables and fruit will also be rich in vitamins and minerals. Both vitamins and minerals are vital for growth, repair and daily functioning of the body.
Water is not a nutrient but adequate water is needed for health and performance. The function of water is required for formation and maintenance of blood plasma, passage of substances in and out of cells and enables life sustaining reactions to occur within the body. Water can be found both inside and outside the cells and there must be sufficient quantities present in order to support life. Water quantity required will depend upon: environmental temperature, body temperature, humidity, physical activity, respiration rate.
So as you can see it’s important that you have a good variety of all the macro nutrients – carbohydrates, fats and proteins as well as the vitamins, minerals and water to keep you healthy and to aid other goals such as body composition and performance.
Ok, so there it is, the basic information on calories and nutrients. Keep an eye out for our latest articles and blogs based on basic nutrition and training.