Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Carbs, Fats and Protein = Energy

Body works best when it gets its daily requirement of carbs, protein and fats

   Carbohydrates, fats, and protein are known as the energy-yielding nutrients. These are the dietary components your body can actually break down to create molecules of energy known as ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate). While many diet plans emphasize focusing on one macronutrient over the others, a healthy diet represents balanced intake from all three groups. Lets take a quick look at each macronutrient and how it impacts energy levels.

Carbs: Carbohydrates are often seen as your body’s preferred source of energy because they can most easily be broken down to create ATP. In fact, for several of your body’s tissues, including your brain, carbohydrates are actually the main source of fuel.

   Simple carbohydrates, such as white bread, cookies, and anything made with refined flour, provide the body with a rapid rush of energy as they are quickly metabolized for fuel. Unfortunately, this energy rush is often followed by a fall in blood sugar, felt by the individual as an energy crash (and of course, hunger). On the other hand, a diet high in complex carbohydrates – whole grains, fruits, and vegetables – can offer unlimited health benefits. These carbohydrate sources contain dietary fiber, which provides a slower release of energy and contributes to feelings of fullness and satiety.

Fats: Just like carbohydrates, fat has received some negative publicity when it comes to a healthy diet. However, fat is actually the most energy-sustaining nutrient since it provides 9 kilocalories (kcals) per gram (protein and carbohydrates only provide 4 each). Fat is also digested more slowly and when consumed correctly, can help provide a steady, slow release of energy and contribute to feelings of fullness.

   Much like carbohydrates, when incorporating fat into your diet it is important to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy fat sources. While saturated and hydrogenated fats can negatively affect health, omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in nuts, seeds, and cold-water fish, can contribute to neurological and cardiovascular health.

Protein: Unlike fats and carbohydrates, protein is often touted as the healthiest of the macronutrients. It is true that protein, in addition to providing a source for energy production, is also required for the makeup of skeletal muscle and enzymes. Consuming meals high in protein can support lean body mass as well as contribute to satiety and blood sugar control. Food sources high in protein include meats and poultry, legumes, nuts, and quinoa.

   While no one food choice is the best for supporting energy levels, a balanced combination of macronutrients which provide a high dose of micronutrients, including B vitamins and other supportive nutrients, will give your body the nourishment it needs.

   For us marathon runners a balance between the right amount of carbs, protein and fats will lead to successful races and hopefully getting beyond the “wall.”

July 24, 2010 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Healthy Athletes Should Know Their Fats/Oils

You are what you eat!

Ever downed a cheesy slice of pizza, dipped a piece of bread in olive oil or enjoyed vinaigrette dressing drizzled over a salad? Chances you’ve eaten at least one (if not all) of the above, which means you know oil makes food taste better. And better yet, we need it!

 The fat found in oil is broken down by our body for energy and a host of vital processes. But with that said, we have to monitor our oil intake carefully, because consuming too much or the wrong kind can lead to serious health problems. Here are three rules to follow when choosing which kinds and how much oil to include in your diet:

Not all oil is created equal

1. Avoid oils that are high in trans fats. Stay away from food or cooking oils that contain trans fats. Avoiding trans fats should be easier now that they must be listed on labels, but beware: “0 trans fats” means there could be up to .5 g in each serving. Since the American Heart Association suggests you get less than 1 percent of your calories from trans fats, for a 2,000-calorie diet that would be about 2 grams (18 calories). So, after four servings of a zero-trans-fat food, you could theoretically hit your limit. 

 2. Limit saturated fat in all forms. Since our body makes saturated fats, we don’t necessarily need to eat them. Most of these fats are found in meat and whole-fat dairy products like milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream; however, some oils, like coconut, are particularly high in saturated fat. Saturated fats have been linked to elevated LDL and cardiovascular disease. 

 3. Stick to the serving size. For cooking oil, one serving is a tablespoon, not a sweeping flourish or a “glug-glug-glug” into the pan. In that tablespoon are 14 grams of fat, or 126 calories. That’s as many calories from fat as a large slice of pizza, or to put it another way, 15 minutes of moderate running (more or less, depending on your weight; but you get the picture, right?).

 For adults, the Food and Drug Administration recommends between 5 (about 1 1/2 tablespoons or 21 g) and 7 teaspoons (just over 2 tablespoons or roughly 28 g) of oil a day depending on age and gender. This includes oil from all sources (food, cooking oil, and condiments). For fat in general, the American Heart Association suggests you should get no more than 25-35 percent of your total calories from all types of fat. For a 2,000 calorie diet, that breaks down to less than 16 g of saturated fat, less than 2 g of trans fat, and between 50 and 70 g of total fat each day. Talk to your doctor for more information.

December 24, 2009 Posted by | Health and Fitness | , , , , | 1 Comment