Fat - a Concentrated Energy Source:
Besides fueling working muscles, fat also performs other functions for the body such as
transporting fat-soluble vitamins and providing essential fatty acids (required fats for
proper body function). Fat is a concentrated energy source. For good health, it is
recommended that we consume fat as one of our sources of fuel. Instead of focusing
on eating "fat free", the smarter thing to do is to get fat intake mostly from unsaturated
fats instead of saturated fats, and consume a moderate amount of overall fat intake.
Good sources of unsaturated fats are olive oil, canola oil, and fatty fish (omega-3 fatty
acids). Olive oil, canola oil, and fish oil from fatty fish contain fatty acids that can lower
the risk of heart disease by reducing the total cholesterol and "bad cholesterol" (LDL)
levels in the blood.
Fat helps to provide energy for activities such as hiking, marathon running, and aerobic
exercise. If you burn a lot of energy, your calorie needs are higher so your fat intake is
probably higher too. Fat doesn't convert to energy as fast as carbohydrates do. It is
recommended that both athletes and non athletes eat a diet low in saturated fat (and
cholesterol) and moderate in total fat. To get enough calories for sports without getting
too much fat, 20 to 30 percent of total calories should come from fat. For athletes,
most of your food energy (60 - 65 percent) should come from complex carbohydrates.
Good sources of complex carbohydrates are whole grains, legumes, and starchy
vegetables. A diet that is high in fat will result in a low intake of complex carbohydrates
Caution: Consuming too little fat may result in a low amount of food energy (calories).
Young athletes may not consume enough essential fatty acids required for normal
growth and development. Female athletes including dancers, gymnasts, and skaters - a
very low fat diet may interfere with menstrual cycles and create lifelong health problems.
The Importance of Protein:
Protein is necessary for many functions in the body including: building and repairing body
tissues; making enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals; transporting nutrients;
making muscles contract; and regulating body processes such as water balance.
It's not possible to be healthy without being fit. Fitness and a healthy diet are equally
important in a healthy lifestyle. Whether athletic or not, we all need protein. For athletic
purposes, when enough carbohydrates are not consumed for the high-energy demands,
then the body uses protein for energy instead.
Although protein supplies energy, extra amounts do not offer added performance
benefits. If the recommended amount for energy has already been consumed, then the
extra protein gets stored as fat and is not used for energy. For anyone, whether athlete
or not, protein should supply only 12 to 15% of overall energy intake. Base the amount
of protein your body needs on your body weight instead of your energy need. The
recommended amount for non athletes is slightly less than 0.5 gram of protein per
pound of body weight. For most recreational exercisers, the recommended amount is
0.5 to 0.75 gram of protein per pound of body weight. The recommendation for athletes
involved in strength or speed training is about 0.75 gram of protein per pound of body
weight. So for a 150 pound athlete the recommended amount of protein is about 75
to 115 grams per day. It is also recommended that athletes eat 2 to 4 ounces of more
meat, chicken, or fish per day than what is recommended for non athletes.
Caution: Extra protein is not stored in your body for future use as protein. It's either
used up as energy or stored as body fat. A high protein diet may also be high in fat.
Consuming too much protein or amino acids can be harmful. The side effects include
metabolic imbalance, toxicity, nervous system disorders, and possibly kidney problems.
When excess protein is consumed, more water is need to excrete the urea which is a
waste product formed when protein turns to body fat. So consuming excess protein
increases the chances of dehydration, and also increases the need to urinate in order to
Foods to Eat for a Low Fat High Protein Diet:
Carbohydrates: whole grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables.
Fats: unsaturated fats such as extra virgin olive oil and raw cold pressed flax seed oil.
Protein: lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, seeds, grains, and dairy.
To build muscle, consume enough calories from carbohydrates, unsaturated fat, and
protein as recommended. Regardless of where it comes from (carbohydrates, proteins
or fats) the body stores extra energy as body fat.
Source: American Dietetic Association: Complete Food And Nutrition Guide (2nd Edition)
Roberta Larson Duyff, MS, RD, FADA, CFCS
Low Fat High Protein Diet
A low fat high protein diet is
commonly used to reduce body fat
and increase muscle mass. For
many years this diet plan has been
favored among athletes, especially
body builders. A low fat, high
protein diet works well for those
who want to lose weight and build
muscle. Athletes prefer to follow
this diet because, a diet high in
protein and low in carbohydrates
and fat burns energy slower and
helps to maintain stable blood sugar
levels while helping to build muscle
mass and decrease body fat.
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remedies and before making any drastic changes to your diet or exercise program.
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