Let me ask you a few questions. Do carbohydrates make you fat? How was fat added to your body? Is sugar the culprit that makes us fat? Is the Atkins diet the way to go?
Last time we talked about an overview of metabolism, what your basal metabolic rate is, why just using the scale isn’t the best way to measure progress, and why maintaining or adding lean body mass is so critical to your metabolism.
This week’s fitness University 101 class is on carbohydrates and protein. So let’s get started.
Starting with carbohydrates: What are carbs? Let’s start with sunlight. When sunlight strikes on the plant, the energy from the sunlight is transformed in the plant into energy. Carbohydrates are the most abundant organic substance on the planet. Carbohydrates are made of three molecules: carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen — CHO.
I’m sure you’ve heard so many people say “oh, carbohydrates are bad for me.” But that is just not the case. We need carbs for energy. Carbs are broken down and transformed into glucose or simple sugars. Glucose is used to fuel the brain, nervous system, and the muscles. Carbohydrates along with the other two macronutrients — protein and fat — in excess will convert into stored energy also known as body fat.
Here are some basic guidelines for how much carbohydrates one should eat. You can eat between as high as 70% and as low as 50% of your calories from carbohydrates. You could go lower, but my experience has shown a decrease in performance.
Now let’s talk about carbohydrate sources. The best sources are going to come from natural sources. These are sources like vegetables, fruits, and tubers. What in the world is a tuber? A tuber is a potato, sweet potato, or yam and the like.
Let’s move on the proteins. Proteins are the building blocks of our body. If you break down a protein, you will find amino acids.
There are essential and non-essential amino acids. Essential amino acids we must get from our diet. You can think of protein as the lumber and building materials that you need to build a house. Proteins help create structure and rebuild muscle after exercise. Protein also helps regulate bodily function including hormones.
Before moving on, let’s take a step back and think about those essential and nonessential amino acids. The essential amino acids you must get from complete protein sources. These complete protein sources come from anything that walked, swam, or flew at one point while they were alive.
Some have said, and it very well may be close to the truth, that you can combine certain incomplete proteins to form complete proteins. But why should we do the job of nature when we can choose sources of fresh meat, chicken, and fish that are complete sources of protein?
So, students, these are the basics of carbohydrates and protein — and let me emphasize basics.
Think of it like this. Your body is a house. The proteins you eat help to build the house, they create the foundation: sturdy, straight and plum walls, the roof, all of the structure that is in the house. Carbohydrates help to fuel all of the functions of the house. The fireplace, the stove, the lights, and all of the electricity in the house carbohydrates.
OK, class, we will see you next time for chapter 5 and 6. In those chapters we will study fats and aerobic exercise.
Until then, train hard, eat right, and always be you, only better! Please check out my websites, www.ramonafitness.com and www.ramonastrainer.com for articles, workouts, videos and how you can get started on your path to you, only better!
Peter San Nicolas, a Ramona, owns Ramona Fitness Center, 558 Main St.