Macronutrients

Our body needs food for survival. I think we all agree on this. However, it is important to understand the three macro nutrients which our body can work with and can process: Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fat.

Protein

The building block of all our tissues is Protein. Protein is essential for growth and maintenance of our entire body. Aside from water, it is the most abundant kind of molecule and is the main structural component of all cells in the body. The energy value of protein is the same as Carbohydrate– 4Kcal x gram. However, lean protein has a high TEF (Thermic Effect of Food, also known as Thermogenesis – that is the amount of calories your body uses just to digest and process food). This can range between 20% to 35% of all protein calories consumed. A high protein diet will not only increase your metabolism, it is essential to maintain and increase muscle mass (if resistance training is applied), especially in a calorie deficit diet. It also helps you feel satiated. In Body re-composition, protein is essential to maintain, and possibly increase muscle and strength in general. Primary sources of protein can mainly be found in animal products, though they are also present in beans, legumes, seeds, nuts and soy.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the main source of fuel for the body. They are the sugars, starches and fibers found in foods such as fruits, grains, vegetables and starches. Though maligned in most recent diet fads they are important for proper body function and are the main source of energy for the brain. “Carbs” come in many forms but to simplify things one can classify them into “simple” and "complex" Carbs. The difference is at the molecular level but suffice to say that simple carbs are digested and absorbed by the body more readily and quickly than complex carbs. Unfortunately, in today’s society, carbs – especially simple carbs in the form of sugar – are everywhere and they tend to deliver “empty” calories. They are also particularly tasty. (Donuts anyone?) All carbs deliver 4Kcal per gram, but the TEF is quite low. The body transforms carbs into glucose and reserves are stored into muscle fibers as Glycogen (an average adult has about 400 gr of Glycogen stored into his skeletal muscles and another approximately 100 gr stored in the liver). Excess carbohydrate intake is easily transformed into fatty acids and deposited in our fat stores. This is why excess carbohydrate intake will make you fat, and quickly too.

However, when properly timed, the consumption of Carbs (no, not donuts) is useful for building muscle and making us function better.

Fiber also contains carbs, however, unlike sugar and starches, fiber is not absorbed in the small intestine and thus not transformed into Glucose. It passes straight into the large intestine where it is converted into hydrogen, Carbon Dioxide and fatty acids. Fiber is essential for healthy bowel movements and decreases the risk of chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

There are many proponents of a “Carb Free” lifestyle (The Keto diet for example), as Carbohydrates are the only macronutrient that the body does not need for survival, but rather – when adapted – the body can use fat as its main source of energy.

The Primordial Strength Training protocol does not shy away from carbs, both simple and complex. When properly timed, the consumption of good quality carbs is essential for body re-composition and strength building.

Fat

At 9Kcal per gram Fat is the most energy-dense macronutrient. Fat is also fundamental for many functions, from energy production to supporting cell growth. It also supports many hormonal activities and keeps many organs protected. Fat is definitely an important part of a human diet. Just not too much.

There are several types of fats (all delivering the same energy level) and some are viewed as BAD Fats and some as GOOD Fats.

There are four major dietary fats. Saturated Fats and Trans fats, (usually solid at room temperature, like butter which is a Saturated Fat), and Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats, (which are usually liquid at room temperature, (like olive oil which is a monounsaturated fat).

Saturated Fats and Trans Fats are considered the “bad” fats, though I don’t necessarily agree with the former. Saturated Fats come primarily from animal sources and primordial men have lived on Saturated Fats for thousands of years. They just have to be accounted for in your diet and no, when consumed in context they do not raise bad cholesterol in your blood.

Trans fats, on the other hand, are definitely a "no Bueno". Technically called Trans fatty acids, they are man-made oils produced by heating liquid vegetable oils in the presence of hydrogen gas and a catalyst. This process is called hydrogenation. Why is this done? Because this process makes the oils more stable and less likely to become rancid. It also converts the oils into a solid state, which makes them perfect for margarine or shortening. Not only, but they can withstand repeated heating, making them ideal for frying fast food. For these reasons they have become the mainstay in many restaurants and in the food industry – for frying, baked goods, processed snack foods and margarine.

Trans fats, even in small amounts, can raise your bad LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein, or Bad Cholesterol) and decrease your good HDL (HighDensity lipoprotein, or Good cholesterol). They will create inflammation – a reaction that is related to immunity and has been implicated in heart disease, stroke, diabetes, insulin resistance and obesity.

Trans fats are the primary cause of most obesity, insulin sensitivity and diabetes in today’s America. Avoid them at all costs, regardless of whether you want to lose fat or not.

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