Diets are everywhere. We are constantly bombarded with restrictions and controversy on what not to eat. It’s enough to make your head spin in confusion. So how do you figure out what to do?
Having been in the fitness industry for 17 years I have seen trends come and go, very little research to back certain diets but one thing has remained the same which is whole foods and the benefits on the body. My philosophy for combating the debates and constant crazy claims is: Fuel your body for how you want it to perform.
What does that mean? Fuel yourself for health, instead of restriction. When we neglect whole foods and avoid essential food groups we will be fatigued, lethargic, and become couch potatoes. If we fuel with good foods that provide health we will feel better, be more energized, and able to keep our movement in the direction we desire.
Carbohydrates: a word that is often cursed is actually essential. There are six major functions of carbohydrates within the body:
- Provide energy (4 cal per gram) and regulate blood glucose
- Sparing the use of proteins (muscles) for energy
- Breakdown of fatty acids and preventing ketosis (severely dangerous for diabetics to become ketosis)
- The primary source for your brains high energy demands
- Flavor and sweeteners
- Dietary fiber
Proteins: most people assume only bodybuilders need proteins but everyone needs protein for normal daily functions. The purpose of protein in our body is:
- Growth and maintenance of muscle and tissues
- Biochemical reactions in the body (digestion, energy production, muscle contraction)
- Some proteins are hormones and are chemical messengers that help communicate with your cells, tissues, and organs
- Provide structure to cells and tissues (keratin, collagen, and elastin)
- Maintain proper pH in your body
- Regulate your body’s processes to maintain fluid balance
- Improve immune health (form immunoglobulins or antibodies to fight infection)
- Transports and stores nutrients throughout the bloodstream
- Provides energy (4 cal per gram)- however, you don’t want it to be your primary source of energy as protein works in so many ways within your body you want carbohydrates to aid in providing energy
Fats: all the rage lately with Keto diets and all sorts of low carb diets. Fats are important with a balance of protein and carbohydrates. There are four different fats in the foods we eat and they all have a function: saturated fats, trans fats, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats. Fats have different chemical structures: saturated and trans fats will be more solid at room temperature (butter), monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are more liquid (olive or vegetable oil). They can also have different effects on cholesterol levels in your body- monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can lower “bad” cholesterol. The purpose of fats in your body is to:
- Energy (9 cal per gram)
- Support cell growth
- Protect organs
- Body temperature regulation
- Absorption of some nutrients and help produce hormones
What can be your big takeaway? Eat food. That’s it. Food is essential for our body's normal daily function, then add activity, treatments, health, recovery on all of that and we require more of it. Food isn’t bad, it’s our relationship with food that becomes bad. Food is good, find balance, moderation, and enjoyment.
Food is fuel.
about the author
Linnley joined the HealthTree Foundation in January 2020 as the Fitness Events Manager. Her husband is a childhood cancer survivor as well as a cancer biologist. Finding a cure, better treatments, and balance through treatments is what drives their family. Linnley is an Advanced Cancer Exercise Specialist and focuses on finding what you can do rather than can't.