Most meal plans that are specifically tailored for fitness will include an element of carbs and protein. Knowing why both these elements are important can help you to better adjust your diet and get the right nutrition in order to achieve your fitness goals. If you’re confused about the benefits of carbs vs protein don’t worry we’ve simplified it for you to save time and get you up to speed quickly.
Your brain, heart and kidneys depend on carbohydrates for energy to function properly. If your diet does not include enough carbohydrates your body will take extreme measures to get the energy it needs; it will feed on carbohydrates stored in muscles. This is why a low-carb diet can be very effective for weight loss.
Reducing carbs tends to reduce your appetite and cause automatic weight loss, or weight loss without the need to count calories. For some people, a low carb diet allows them to eat until fullness, feel satisfied, and still lose weight. Many low-calorie, carb-rich foods are available if you wish to lose weight or maintain a healthy, balanced diet.
As a general guideline, adults should get about 40% to 60% of their daily calories from carbohydrates. Good choices include minimally processed products such as oatmeal, brown rice and whole-grain bread.
A common misconception of carbs is that they are fattening, perhaps because carbs are often associated with those low-fat cookies, crackers and chips that can add pounds if not eaten in moderation. Low-fat snacks are usually high in calories; it is those calories – not carbohydrates themselves – that cause weight gain when such snacks are consumed often or in large portions.
The human body is not good at storing carbs and therefore reserves of carbs are limited, so need replenishing before, and sometimes during, exercise.
Protein is the raw material your body uses to make and maintain healthy muscles, bones, skin and hair. Without an ongoing supply of this nutrient, you would gradually lose muscle mass, become weak and forfeit your ability to fight disease and infection. For those who exercise regularly, protein intake plays an important role in muscle repair and recovery.
Focusing meals around protein-rich foods improves your sense of fullness and satisfaction, helping to regulate your appetite and limit unnecessary trips to the biscuit bin. A high-protein diet may actually help you lose body fat rather than lean muscle mass, which is the aim if you’re looking to lose weight.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is a modest 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. The RDA is the amount of a nutrient you need to meet your basic nutritional requirements. In a sense, it’s the minimum amount you need to keep from getting sick — not the specific amount you are supposed to eat every day. However, if you are focusing on endurance and strength-training the guidelines from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada and the American College of Sports Medicine suggest consuming between 1.2 and 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for the best performance and health.
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