Whether an individual is active or not, there is a considerable amount of energy expended as natural biological processes occur within our bodies. Each time we breathe, we use energy. Each time our heart beats, we use energy. We utilize energy while we are sleeping, metabolizing food, speaking—- at every moment.
Now, for the athletes of the world, or anyone who expends additional energy through exercise, it is important to understand where our bodies get their energy and how that energy is used. While we all know that human fuel is food, not all fuel is created equal. When it comes to properly fueling our bodies, there are three general compounds we need to consume. Of course, these compounds are fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.
The Basics of Human Metabolism
The word ‘metabolism’ is often thought of as a thing within us that determines how efficiently we process our calories. While not entirely untrue, it’s better to think of metabolism as a series of processes that help keep us alive and fueled. By definition, metabolism is the set of life-sustaining chemical reactions in organisms. The three main purposes of metabolism are the conversion of food to energy to run cellular processes; the conversion of food/fuel to building blocks for proteins, lipids, nucleic acids, and some carbohydrates; and the elimination of metabolic wastes.
For metabolism to occur, our bodies need the three compounds mentioned above. Here is a breakdown of these three compounds and the purposes they serve.
- Fats - Fats play a vital role in the body, helping with the absorption of essential nutrients needed for cell growth. Fats also reduce the glycemic impact of what we eat, helping to stabilize blood glucose levels. We can’t survive for long without fats in our diet.
- Carbohydrates - Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy helping to fuel the brain, kidneys, heart, and central nervous system. The body relies on glucose to function and once consumed, the carbs we eat are broken down into this life-sustaining compound.
- Proteins - Every cell in the body relies on proteins to function. They help build, repair cells and body tissues. In addition, proteins are fundamental to important physiological processes such as blood clotting, immune system responses, and hormone creation.
Apart from simply sustaining life, these compounds, also known as macronutrients, work together to build up our bodies, increasing strength and energy levels if consumed in the right quantities.
Staying on Top Of Your Macronutrients
We are often told to ‘count our macros’ and make detailed accounts and logs of the things we eat. As the importance of these macronutrients has been outlined, it may make a little more sense as to why this could be beneficial for the body.
When seeking peak athletic performance, what we eat is a huge determinant of our success. Using the science within our bodies to our benefit through diet is one of the most impactful ways to gain an edge. Professional athletes performing at the highest levels are not passive about what goes into their bodies. Everything is carefully calculated and planned so their internal engines can receive the fuel they need.
The proper macro splits to build your diet around are dependent on many factors such as age, body type, gender, and more. For this reason, it is a good idea to consult a professional who can help formulate a customized solution for your needs. That being said, some general macro splits can be used as a baseline. Here are a few to consider:
- For those who are long and skinny with a high tolerance for carbohydrates try the 25/55/20 split. This is to say 25% protein, 55% carbohydrates, and 20% fat.
- For those with a long, more muscular frame, try the 30/40/30 split. This is to say 30% protein, 40% carbohydrates, and 30% fat.
- For those who are more broad and thick, try the 35/25/40 split— meaning 35% protein, 25% carbohydrates, and 40% fat.
Step It up at Performance One
For more information about how to achieve elite performance both inside and outside of the gym, contact us at Performance One. We are a Utah lifestyle gym that specialized in athlete training and fitness for those who want to reach the next level. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned professional, we can help you achieve your goals.