It is the process of taking food which comprise of nutrients which our body absorbs to produce energy to survive. There are six basic nutrients needed for energy, maintenance of tissues and regulation of bodily processes:
Proteins are essential nutrients for the human body. They are one of the essential building blocks of body which take cares of bones, tissues, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood and can also serve as a fuel source. Proteins are made up of hundreds of smaller units called amino acids that are attached to one another by peptide bonds, forming a long chain. Ultimate value of any protein is in its amino acid composition. Many physiological processes relating to bodybuilding from energy, recovery, muscle hypertrophy, fat loss, and strength gains are linked to amino acids. Even though scientists have discovered over 50 amino acids, only 20 are important for human body. Of those twenty, nine are defined as essential. The other eleven can be synthesized by an adult body. Thousands of combinations of those twenty are used to make all of the proteins in our body. Essential Amino Acids are Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, and Valine. Whereas non-essential Amino Acids are Alanine, Asparagine, Aspartic Acid, Glutamic Acid. Some of the Amino Acids are known as conditionally essential which are Arginine, Cysteine, Glutamine, Glycine, Proline, Serine, and Tyrosine. Dietary sources of protein include both animals and plants: meats, dairy products, fish and eggs as well as grains, legumes and nuts. Vegans can get enough essential amino acids by eating a variety of plant proteins It is commonly believed that athletes should consume a higher-than-normal protein intake to maintain optimal physical performance. The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. This amounts to 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man. However, the academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that bodybuilders require 1.4 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram, or about 0.63 to 0.77 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day which comes out to be more than 100 grams per day. We normally cannot take this amount protein through normal diet therefore, protein supplementation becomes necessary for building muscle mass.
Carbohydrates are one of the main types of nutrients which are an important source of energy for our body. Our digestive system changes carbohydrates into glucose (blood sugar). Our body uses this sugar for energy for our cells, tissues and organs. Carbohydrates provide fuel for the central nervous system and energy for working muscles. They also prevent protein from being used as an energy source and enable fat metabolism. They are also important for brain function. They are an influence on mood, memory, etc., as well as a quick energy source. Dietary sources of carbohydrates are bread, beans, milk, popcorn, potatoes, cookies, spaghetti, soft drinks, corn, and cherry pie etc. They also come in a variety of forms. The most common and abundant forms are sugars, fibers, and starches. The healthiest sources of carbohydrates are unprocessed or minimally processed whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans which promote good health by delivering vitamins, minerals, fiber, and a host of important nutrients. However, unhealthier sources of carbohydrates include white bread, pastries, sodas, and other highly processed or refined foods. These items contain easily digested carbohydrates that may contribute to weight gain, interfere with weight loss, and promote diabetes and heart disease. Fibers are essential for digestion, promote healthy bowel movements and decrease the risk of chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease and diabetes. However, unlike sugars and starches, fibers are not absorbed in the small intestine and are not converted to glucose. Instead, they pass into the large intestine relatively intact, where they are converted to hydrogen and carbon dioxide and fatty acids. It is recommended that people should consume 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories. Sources of fiber include fruits, grains and vegetables, especially legumes.
Fats are the third macronutrient besides proteins and carbohydrates. There are different types of fats, with some fats being healthier than others. To stay healthy, it is important to eat unsaturated fats in small amounts as part of a balanced diet. When eaten in large amounts, all fats, including healthy fats, can contribute to weight gain. Fat is higher in energy (protein and carbohydrates both contain 4 calories per gram, while fat provides 9 calories per gram) so eating less fat overall is likely to help with weight loss. Saturated fats raise LDL (bad) cholesterol level which puts us at risk for heart attack, stroke, and other major health problems. We should avoid or limit foods that are high in saturated fats. Eating unsaturated fats instead of saturated fats can help lower your LDL cholesterol. Most vegetable oils that are liquid at room temperature have unsaturated fats. There are two kinds of unsaturated fats, Mono-unsaturated fats which include olive oil, canola oil and Polyunsaturated fats which include safflower, sunflower, corn, and soy oils. Another type of fats called Trans fatty acids are unhealthy fats that form when vegetable oil hardens in a process called hydrogenation. They can raise LDL cholesterol levels in our blood as well as lower our HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Trans fats should be avoided to stay healthy.
Water is an essential nutrient because it is required in amounts that exceed the body’s ability to produce it. All biochemical reactions occur in water. It fills the spaces in and between cells and helps form structures of large molecules such as protein and glycogen. It is also needed to transport compounds via the blood, maintain cellular structural integrity, regulate temperature, etc. Water accounts for 50-80% of body weight, depending on lean body mass. On average, men have a higher lean body mass than women and higher percentage of body mass as water than in women. There are many different opinions on how much water we should be drinking every day. The health authorities commonly recommend eight 8-ounce glasses, which equals about 2 liters. This is called the 8×8 rule and is very easy to remember.
Vitamins are organic compounds that are needed in small quantities by human body to sustain life. They help the body to grow and develop normally. Vitamins fall into two categories: fat soluble and water soluble. The fat-soluble vitamins are A, D, E, and K which can dissolve in fat and can be stored in our body. The water-soluble vitamins are C and the B-complex vitamins (such as vitamins B6, B12, niacin, riboflavin, and folate). They need to dissolve in water before our body can absorb them. Because of this, our body can’t store these vitamins. Any vitamin C or B that our body doesn’t use, passes through our system and are lost through urine. So we need a fresh supply of water soluble vitamins every day.
Minerals are like vitamins substances found in food that our body needs for growth and general health. They are important for building strong bones and teeth, blood, skin, hair, nerve function, muscle and for metabolic processes such as those that turn the food we eat into energy. Minerals are inorganic and hold on to their chemical structure. That means the minerals in soil and water easily find their way into our body through the plants, fish, animals, and fluids we consume. There are two kinds of minerals: macro minerals and trace minerals. Macro minerals are minerals our body needs in larger amounts. They include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and chloride. On the other hand, our body needs just small amounts of trace minerals. These include iron, copper, iodine, zinc, fluoride, and selenium.