This time of year, everything you read gives different advice on how to change your lifestyle through nutrition. Fad diets, detoxes, fasting, cleansing…how do you know what to believe?
We’ve put together this article, not on a particular diet or way to lose or gain weight, but just with the simple facts of what each food group consists of. Throughout January we’ll expand on this each week, bit by bit, so that whether your goal is maintenance, fat loss or muscle gain, you’ll have a better idea of what you’re putting into your body – along with when, how much and why!
There’s no need to detox for the first month of every year, or week of every month, in order to see results.
Finding a solution that works for you and your lifestyle that you can keep to consistently is the key.
The 3 macronutrients are: protein, carbohydrates and fat.
You need all 3 of these in your diet, as all have different functions, in order to have a balanced diet and healthy body.
How much of each you need will depend on your body type, activity levels and most importantly your goals.
Primary Function in the Body:
- Build and repair body tissues and structures
- Synthesis of enzymes and hormones
- Secondary source of energy
Primary Sources: Meat and Dairy Produce
Secondary Sources: Grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, beans and other vegetables.
Proteins are made up of amino acids. There are 20 amino acids – 9 are essential (you need them from your diet as your body cannot produce them) and 11 are non-essential (still needed daily by the body, but your body can synthesise them if need be).
A complete source of protein contains the 9 essential amino acids:
Primary Function in the Body:
- Primary source of energy
- Regulate digestion
- Regulate utilisation of protein and fat
Carbohydrates can be broken down into simple and complex, also known as sugars and starches. Simple carbohydrates are the quickest source of energy, often giving sugar ‘highs’ and ‘lows’, whereas complex carbohydrates take longer to digest and are often high in fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Simple Carbohydrates – white pasta, bread, sugar, dried fruit
Complex Carbohydrates – Starchy carbs, fruit and vegetables
This is a measure of how a food will affect a person’s blood sugar level.
Primary Function In the Body
- Provides bulk in the diet, thus increasing satiety value of foods
- Some ﬁbres also delay the emptying of the stomach, further increasing satiety
- Prevents constipation and establishes regular bowl movements
- May reduce the risks of heart and artery disease by lowering blood cholesterol
- Regulates the body’s absorption of glucose (diabetics included)
- High Fibre meals have been shown to exert regulatory effects on blood glucose levels for up to 5 hours after eating.
Insoluble: reducing the risk of colorectal cancer haemorrhoids and constipation.
Soluble: helps moderate blood glucose levels and lowers cholesterol
- Associated with increases in bad cholesterol levels (LDLs – low-density lipoproteins)
- Found in animal meat
- Associated with increases in good cholesterol (HDls – high-density lipoproteins)
- Monounsaturated fatty acids (found in olive oil and canola oils)
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids (such as omega-3 fatty acids found in cold-water ﬁsh e.g. salmon)
Function of Fat
- Cellular membrane structure and function
- Precursors to hormones
- Cellular signals
- Regulation and excretion of nutrients in the cells
- Surrounding, protecting and holding in place the vital organs such as the kidneys, heart and liver
- Insulating the body from environmental temperature changes and preserving body heat
- Prolonging the digestive process by slowing digestive process further promoting satiety
So important it’s getting its own blog post next week!
You should now have a good idea of what the 3 main food groups are, and how they function within the body.
You should also be able to see that by choosing the ‘right’ foods, you can have a balanced diet with all 3 macronutrients playing their part – and no need to cut any of them from your diet completely!
Disclaimer: We are not nutritionists, and nothing we recommend should take the place of a diet your GP or a Registered Dietian has prescribed for you. The above is intended as a source of information for the general public, you should see your GP if you are considering changing your diet dramatically.