by Bob Vandersluis
All people consume 3 macro nutrients through nutrition. Carbohydrates, Protein, and Fat. All three macronutrients serve important functions, and each vary in quality. Carbohydrates can be simple or complex, full of or lacking in nutrients, and can be composed of dense or diluted calories. Protein quality depends on amino acid completeness. Fats can be saturated, polyunsaturated, or monounsaturated, and may consist of essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6.
We are going to keep things pretty simple for the time being to ensure everyone get some great takeaways that they can implement in their nutrition and training routines.
The two main players in the training and muscle building process are protein and carbs. When amino acid rich meals are consumed around training, protein synthesis is stimulated and protein breakdown is suppressed. This means that we reverse the exercise-associated breakdown and kick-start the recovery process sooner.
Protein isn’t the only concern though. Intense activity uses stored carbohydrates, and those carbs have to be replenished. Thus, during the post workout period, protein and carbohydrates make an awesome recovery combination.
Though protein provides your body with 4 kcals per gram, giving you energy is not its primary role. Rather, it’s got way too many other things going on. In fact, your body contains thousands of different proteins, each with a unique function. Their building blocks are nitrogen-containing molecules called amino acids. If your cells have all 20 amino acids available in ample amounts, you can make an infinite number of proteins. Nine of those 20 amino acids are essential, meaning you must get them in the diet.
Protein needs for athletes have received considerable investigation, not only in regard to whether athletes’ protein requirements are increased, but also in relation to whether individual amino acids are a benefit to performance.
If protein needs are increased, the magnitude of the increase will depend heavily on the type of exercise performed. Resistance training is thought to increase protein requirements considerably more than endurance exercise. It is recommended that resistance trained athletes consume between 1.2-2.0g/kg of bodyweight.
Despite the increases in protein, it must still be ensured that energy intake from carbs or fats is adequate, otherwise protein will be used as an energy source, something that this nutrient is not designed to do efficiently.
Approximate Protein Content of Selected Foods
Poultry, beef, fish, 4 ounce: 28g
Broccoli, 1 cup cooked: 6g
Milk, 8-fluid ounce: 8g
Peanut butter, 2 Tbsp: 8g
Kidney beans, 1 cup: 13g
Whole-wheat bread, 1 slice: 4g
Whether they’re from a doughy bagel, a sugary cola or a fiber-rich apple, carbohydrates’ primary job
is to provide your body with energy. From each of these sources and others, carbohydrates provide you with 4 kcals/gram. Carbs are fuel. Glucose is the primary fuel for most of your cells and is the preferred energy for the brain and nervous system, the red blood cells and the placenta and fetus. Once glucose enters the cell, a series of metabolic reactions convert it to carbon dioxide, water and ATP (Adenosine Tri-Phosphate), the energy currency of the cell. If you have more available glucose than your body needs for energy, you will store glucose as glycogen (glycogenesis) in your liver and skeletal muscle. When your blood glucose drops, as it does when you’re sleeping or fasting, the liver will break down glycogen (glycogenolysis) and release glucose into your blood. Muscle glycogen fuels your activity. The body can store just a limited amount of glucose, so when the glycogen stores are full, extra glucose is stored as fat and can be used as energy when needed.
The fuel burned during exercise depends on the duration and intensity of the exercise performed, the gender of the athlete, and prior nutritional status. All other conditions being equal, an increase in the the intensity of an exercise will increase the contribution of carbohydrates to the energy pool.
If blood glucose cannot be maintained, the intensity of the exercise will decrease. Fat contributes to the energy pool over a wide range of exercise intensities, being metabolized at somewhat the same absolute rate throughout the range. However, the proportion of energy contributed by fat decreases as exercise intensity increases because the contribution of carbohydrates increase.
Fats are a necessary component of a healthy diet, providing energy, essential elements of cell membranes and facilitates the absorption of fat soluble minerals. Fat provides a concentrated source of energy—Fat provides more than twice the potential energy that protein and carbohydrate do (9 calories per gram of fat versus 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate or protein).Fat intake should not be restricted by athletes, because there is no performance benefit in consuming a diet with less than 15% of energy from fat.
Therefore competitive athletes would be unwise to sacrifice their ability to undertake high quality training or high intensity efforts during competition