Let’s get textbook proper for a minute…
Understanding weight management is really a simple concept, but the media and fitness industry has complicated it so much that you have to question everything that you hear. Granted, we should be somewhat skeptical anyway because with so much information out there how would we really know the truth unless we find it out for ourselves? So after reading this post, go back and do your own fact check on my facts and tell me whats what.
The reason for this post is because I hear about people going on no carb diets, no fat diets, or MADDDDD PROTEIN diets, and I want to bring a little clarity to the issue and hopefully tell you what role macronutrients play in weight management.
First, lets understand what is a macronutrient. A macronutrient is a compound that, when ingested, provides the body with energy. They are broken down into fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Now lets dig a little deeper and find out what these macronutrients do in the body and what they don’t do.
Fats do not make you fat!! Fats or Lipids as they are also called, are used in the body to help carry different vitamins from cell to cell. They also help in the function and structure of the cell, they aid in the digestion process, insulation and satiety of the body, meaning, you feel full after you eat. Essential fatty acids such as omega-3s and omega-6s are needed because the body cannot make them itself. The fats that are good for you are unsaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. They have been known to promote low cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease. Saturated and trans-fatty acids are the ones you want to stay clear of because they raise cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease. Foods with good fats include, oils (olive, canola, peanut, and vegetable) most nuts and seeds, and fish. Saturated and trans-fatty acids can be found in, meats, butter, cheese, eggs, whole milk, most baked goods, fried foods (chicken and donuts), and fast foods. Consuming fats in excess can cause weight gain because they are the most energy dense macronutrient at a whopping 9 calories per gram, meaning, if something has 13 grams of fat, expect that food to come with 117 calories from fat alone. Fats should make up about 25 to 30% of your daily caloric intake.
Proteins do not make you fat!! Proteins are use in the construction and repair of body tissues. They also help in the production of hormones, enzymes, and can be used for energy if fat or carbohydrate levels are too low. Proteins are made up of amino acids. The body uses 20 of them to do what it has to do. 8 of those amino acids are essential acids meaning that they must be taken in from outside sources, the other 12 are nonessential and semiessential meaning that the body can make these amino acids from dietary nitrogen and fragments of carbohydrates. When it comes to weight management, I hear it almost daily, “drink protein shakes, protein helps you build muscle, you have to turn your fat into muscle…” First of all, the day someone turns fat into muscle will be the day I turn fried chicken into birthday cake! They are two separate compounds made up of totally different stuff, one cannot become the other. Second, yes protein will help you build muscle, but believe it or not, if you eat a well balanced diet and get 20 to 30 % of your daily caloric intake from protein, you’ll be alright. There wont be a need to supplement because you get all you need. The average person needs about .8 grams of protein per kg of body weight per day. To find your weight in kg, divide your weight in lbs by 2.2. So if you weigh 220 lbs, divide that by 2.2 kg and your weigh is 100 kg. That would mean you need 80 grams of protein per day at .8 grams per kg of body weight.
Now I know someone is saying, “Why then do bodybuilders drink protein shakes and eat MADDDD protein?” Well, the short answer is because they’re bodybuilders and unless you’re one too why would you do what they do? That’s like giving a newborn baby fried foods just because other humans eat it. That baby has different nutritional needs and cannot eat the way his parents might.
Good ol’ carbohydrates. They are either the best friend or the enemy of all things healthy. Lets get this straight. CARBS DO NOT MAKE YOU FAT!! Carbohydrates are the body’s main source for all energy needs. They are usually classified as starches, sugars, and fiber. During exercise, the body uses stored energy in the form of muscle glycogen from carbohydrates stored in the muscle. So to limit carbs from your diet is to limit the amount of energy that your body has available. And don’t say “Well if I don’t have carbs, my body will burn fat.” This is a half truth because yes the body will use the most available source of energy but carbohydrates help in the oxidation of fat. This means, fat burns in a carbohydrate flame. Your body’s ability to burn fat is restricted when you are on a low carb diet because fat burning is dependent on the consumption of carbs. Your low carb diet to lose fat will eventually fail.
The truth behind weight gain and carbohydrates is simple. When you gain weight it’s because there is an excess of stored energy. When you don’t exercise enough your body continues to store this energy and that’s when you gain. You lose weight when you create an energy, or caloric deficit and burn more energy, (calories) than you take in.
So, the moral of the story is to stop blaming macronutrients for your failures and laziness. Get up and become more active. Crash diets never last and restricting your body from what it needs will end up in failure. Your body needs fats, carbs, and protein, so give your body what it needs. Just do it in moderation and control your intake. Push the plate away, put the chips down, and go run, get fit! Get Healthy. Change your lifestyle, not your DIEt.