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What Is Good Nutrition?

Now this might sound like a real easy question but what is Good Nutrition? Good nutrition can mean many different things to many different people. Depending on your sporting requirements, training requirement or even special needs you might have (diabeties, Crohn's disease), you will find that your nutritional requirements might be different to those around you. Now how many people here have been questioned because of their nutritional needs?

Think back to the latest family gathering you had where you hadn't seen people for a long while. When they find out that you train and eat a healthy balanced diet, they say things like 'when will you eat normally again?' Didn't you know that pizza and beer is a normal meal for most people. So what we will cover here is just a general overview of what good nutrition is. We will not go into specifics about what's good for what sport etc, just a brief overview.

Macronutrients

Macronutrients are the 3 different classifications of food. These are Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats. No matter what you eat, food is comprised of either, if not all 3 of these macronutrients.

Protein

Proteins are the 'building blocks' for all living cells in the body. Everything from your hard earned muscle you train for, to your skin, bones, organs etc are all made from protein. As you can see, protein is one pretty important substance. The biggest debate has always been how much protein do you need?

In the old days, the recommended daily amount was as little as 1.0 gram per kg of bodyweight. So this means that for a 100 kg hard training athlete they only need 100 grams of protein a day. Sorry folks, but you need a hell of a lot more. How much you say? Well, your protein consumption should be based on your total nutritional intake. On average, 50% of your daily calorie intake should come from high quality protein. You should focus your protein intake on such things as lean beef, chicken, fish, lite and/or skin milks, and supplemental protein powders, consisting of both whey proteins and calcium caseinate. Many of you will be a little confused now. Have you ever heard that too much protein, especially more than half your daily calorie intake is bad for you. You know, too much protein puts too much stress on your kidneys etc. Rest assured that this is may not be true.

To date there is no published conclusive evidence that a high protein diet produces any negative effect on metabolism in bodybuilders or any other type of athletes. Recently, a comprehensive study completed by Jacques Poortmans and Oliver Dellalieux, concluded that high protein intakes of 170 to 243% of the RDA show no toxicity, dehydration, calcium loss or impairment of kidney function. Also, the researchers cautioned that some of the upper-end clearance range.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the 'fuel' that our bodies need to function. Too little carbs and you become slow and sluggish. Too many carbs and you can have a little battle with the bulge. So what is the ideal amount of carbs to eat, and what sort of carbs are best? Amounts - Typically, carbohydrates should total on average 40% of your daily calorie intake. At this amount, you will obtain enough energy to power you through the day, yet not so much as to cause increases in fat.

This is a 'very' rough guide as well as activity level also plays a HUGE role in determining your ideal amount of daily carbs. For example, if you had 2 bodybuilders pretty much the same (both male, 25 and 80kgs), yet one sits behind a desk all day and his counterpart works in a high demanding physical job, the later will need more carbs (and total calories) to get through the day and still have enough to train and for recovery.

Carbohydrates used to be split into 3 different groups: Simple, Complex and Fibrous. Simple are your sugars and processed items like Soft drink, Complex are your typical pasta's, rice, grains etc and Fibrous are your vegetables like carrots and beans. I think this is a little outdated and I feel most of the fitness community feels the same way!

Today, we realise the Glycemic Index (GI) rating is more relevant when it comes to carbohydrate choices for one simple reason - it is more accurate. If you go by complex for instance, is all rice equal, right - wrong. Calrose rice has a GI of 87 while Basmati has a rating of only 58. Both these rice's will have different effects on your body, yet both are essentially classes as complex - see what I mean.

Now focusing on GI for carbohydrate intake, how do we tie this into our eating plan? You want to focus most of your carbohydrate consumption around low GI carbohydrate sources (excepting around training times). When it comes to your body storing energy, insulin is king. It is a fluctuating Insulin level which can result in massive weight gain (and that's not lean weight). This is caused when you follow the general yo-yo diet all day of snack foods, take away and soft drink.

To keep Insulin levels low, you should be focusing on low GI carbohydrate choices. Foods such as Basmati rice, rolled oats, sweet potatoes and an abundance of vegetables will do the trick nicely. By doing so, this will keep your blood sugar level nice an low, allowing for a more steady release of carbs other a longer period of time. This also enhances the fat burning process.

The only time you want to consume high GI carbs is directly before training and in the 3 hour window after training. This is when your muscles are more primed too utilise nutrients, and by increasing insulin levels, you open the flood gates so to speak, and your muscles literally soak up everything like a sponge. This will increase your chance of providing everything for muscle growth to happen and also greatly enhances recovery. But after the 3 hr period, back to low GI carbohydrates.

Yes it sounds like a lot of mucking about, but trust me, it is the most efficient way to delivery quality carbohydrates, and the most effective. Remember, there is a purpose to what we do

Fat

By understanding that not all fat is bad, you can greatly enhance not only your results in the gym, but also your quality of life. As most people know, you want to avoid all saturated fats and eliminate them from your diet. These have no nutritional benefit for you at all, and in fact, can and will have adverse effects on your health.

A bypass operation because of a clogged artery, caused by saturated fat consumption never sounded like fun too me. It is a mistake to avoid all fats though. Most people know of the Omega 3's which are mostly found in fish such as Salmon, but there are some other great sources of essential fats as well.

Flaxseed oil is another popular product, which is found in the fridges of most health food stores. You can also buy flaxseed (or linseeds) as seeds from a store, but if you do remember too choose the crushed variety. When still in tact, they are unable to release their oils when consumed. Eating the crushed variety does release it quite well, and when you add a tablespoon to your cereal in the morning, it develops a nice nutty flavour. With your daily calorie intake, fat should total approx 10%.

To sum it all up So there it is, a very brief intro to good nutrition. Just remember what might be good nutrition for you and your sport might not necessarily be good for someone else. We are all unique in our individual needs and requirements so instead of taking what someone else says as gospel, invest the time in yourself and find out what is GOOD NUTRITION for you.

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