I can never emphasize enough the importance of eating a healthy diet. I also cannot believe how often this is ignored. You don’t have to go on a fish-and-broccoli only diet, but American’s have a terrible relationship with food as a whole. Make sure that the food you are consuming each day SERVES A PURPOSE.
Protein: Protein, aside from water, is the most abundant substance in our body. It is necessary to maintain muscles, as well as helps with proper functioning of almost every cell in the body. Everytime you work out, you will do micro tears to the muscle. You need protein to recover and heal these tears. Without protein, you will not build muscle. It is necessary for an active adult to consume protein. This doesn’t mean you have to start eating a chicken each day. In fact, there are plenty of protein sources that don’t require eating meat. If you are into that sort of thing.
Sources of protein: seafood, poultry, meat, eggs, egg whites, some dairy, soy, protein powders
Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are broken into two categories: simple and complex. Both types of carbohydrates break down into glucose molecules. From there, carbs become fuel for your muscles and brain. If your body does not immediately use it for energy, it is converted into glycogen and stored it in the liver and muscles to be used as energy in the near future. Your body can store about a half a day’s supply of glycogen. Excess glucose becomes fat.
Simple Carbohydrates: Many health professionals blame simple carbohydrate intake as the leading cause of obesity. However, simple carbohydrates can be useful in the time frame around or during your training. Examples of simple carbohydrates include: fruits, dairy, table sugar, honey, molasses, candy, and many processed snack foods.
Complex Carbohydrates: Complex carbohydrates provide more energy than its partner, simple carbohydrates. These carbs take longer to digest and often boast a lot of micronutrients. Examples of these include: Vegetables, oats, whole grain breads/pastas/etc.
Fats: Fats get a bad rap. Their name alone is just icky. However, they are important for the functioning of the body. They yield over twice the amount of energy per gram (9 calories/gram) as carbs and protein (4 calories/gram). Healthy fats help brain development, blood clotting, control inflammation, maintain hair and skin, and helps transport vitamins A, D, E, and K through the blood stream.
Saturated Fat: Saturated fat is okay in controlled doses. Molecularly, there are no double bonds between the carbon atoms, thus the carbon chain is saturated with hydrogen. This type of fat is clearly labeled on food labels and should be kept to less than 10% of your daily caloric expenditure.
Unsaturated fat: Unsaturated fat is what we think of when we think of good fats. They can help lower cholesterol when used as opposed to saturated fats. As I mentioned earlier, they are still quite calorie dense and you will want to keep their use to less than 30% of your caloric intake. Examples of unsaturated fats would be avocados, fish oil, and nuts.
Trans fat: Trans fat is bad, bad news. It is the result of hydrogenation, which is when vegetable oil hardens. Trans fat should be ELIMINATED from your diet for optimal health. It raises LDL levels, lowers HDL levels thus increasing your chances for getting coronary heart disease. Trans fat is mostly found in fried foods, processed foods, and margarine.
Now that you have some bare bone facts as to what the macronutrients are, make sure that what you are putting in your body serves a higher purpose.