The old adage – you are what you eat – is very true. Think about nutrition in the same way as the fuel that you put in your car. The higher the octane of petrol that you put into your car, the better it will run. Put in a lower octane and it won’t run as smoothly and putting no petrol won’t make your car go at all.
Nutrition is the fuel for our bodies. The more nutrient-rich food that you eat and for more that you hydrate will make your body perform better. However, the more junk food we eat and alcohol that we drink will cause us to feel sluggish and not perform up to scratch.
In this article, we have a look at the three macronutrients and why you need these in your diet.
Carbohydrates consist of the sugars, starches as well as fibres that are to be found in fruit, grains, vegetables as well as milk products. These are responsible for providing the energy that your body needs to function daily.
When choosing the carbs that you want to include in your diet, look for slow-release carbs. These keep you feeling fuller for a longer period of time and also function to sustain your energy levels. Refined carbohydrates, which are the exact opposite, will spike your blood sugar. This will give you a spurt of energy and, very quickly after this, will leave you feeling listless.
Protein is the building block of muscle. Many diets advocate upping your protein content and slashing your carb intake. However, it would help if you were cautious of eating too much protein as this could damage your kidneys. Also, protein is not calorie-free food – a portion of protein has just the same amount of calories as a portion of carbohydrates does, so if you don’t use the calories, you will put on weight.
When you lift weights, the muscle/s that you’re working tear microscopically. For them to rebuild stronger, you need to consume protein (in the form of either low-fat protein or a protein shake). However, this is only if you want to see quick gains. If you don’t consume protein directly after your training session, your muscles will still rebuild stronger, but it might take a little more time.
Fats are substances which help the body to use certain vitamins and also keep the skin healthy. There are two types of fats:
- Saturated Fats (‘bad’ fats), and
- Unsaturated Fats (‘good’ fats).
Saturated fats are to be found in animal foods such as beef. However, a few plant-based foods (such as coconut, coconut oil, palm oil as well as palm kernel oil) contain high levels of saturated fats.
Unsaturated fats are divided into two categories:
- Monounsaturated fats, and
- Polyunsaturated fats.
Monounsaturated fats are to be found in high concentrations in foods such as olive oil, avocados and nuts that you snack on as you decide where to play. High levels of polyunsaturated fats are to be found in sunflower oil, walnuts, flax seeds, fish as well as canola oil
Omega-3 fatty acids are another division of polyunsaturated fats. They are essential fatty acids as the body can’t make them and help to prevent diseases such as heart disease and stroke. The most common source of omega-3s is fatty fish such as salmon.