Energy Nutrients – Foods That Supply the Fuel
Energy nutrients are those compounds that supply the fuel for your muscles and body processes. Carbohydrates, fats and protein all provide energy but in different ways and for different purposes. This article summarizes some of the more important nutrition aspects of getting energy nutrients in your diet.
Vitamins and Minerals:
Contrary to what energy drinks may want you to believe, vitamins and minerals do not supply energy for your body. It is true that vitamin B for example will help to metabolize carbohydrates and protein to release the energy they contain but they do not supply energy themselves.
True Energy Nutrients:
Eating a good supply of carbohydrates, fats and protein will give you all the energy you need. The amount of each will differ based on the type of training that you do – endurance versus strength and power. As a general rule, you should eat 5 – 12 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight, 1.2-1.7 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight and only enough fat to make up the remainder of the calories you need in your diet. It should not exceed 25-30% of your total calories.
Carb loading is a common practice of endurance athlete and involves the intake of more calories than normal for a few days before competition. This is a video I created explaining how to do it.
One of the more readily available energy nutrients during exercise is blood sugar. It will supply the energy for your brain so reducing the amount available will affect your mental focus and concentration. Mental fatigue will cause muscle fatigue so an intake of simple carbs in a sports drink during exercise can really help.
Eating complex carbohydrates before exercise is counter-productive as it does not digest very quickly. Eating easily digestible starch-based carbohydrates works well and simple carbohydrates (sugars) during exercise. During all other times, use carbohydrate sources like whole grains and vegetables that also have quality fiber.
As mentioned in one of my free books available in my newsletter, when you eat your calories is also important. Spreading out your meals into several per day instead of the traditional 3 concentrated meals has been proven to be beneficial to muscle development. This is especially true for protein. Eating about 30 grams every 2-3 hours is much better for recovery.
Of the three energy nutrients, fats have the highest energy at 9 calories per gram as compared to 4 calories per gram for both crabs and protein. As a result, eating too much fat can cause your body to utilize less of the other two and limit your recovery from exercise. Be careful of the amount as well as the type of fats you consume.
Due to the lack of animal protein sources for vegetarian athletes, they need to take other foods or supplements that will supply protein, calcium, zinc and vitamin B12.
Eat a complete, balanced diet and energy nutrients should not be an issue.
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