I think for this edition of “Inspire Brantford Fitness” we’ll change it up and talk a little about nutrition. I’m going to break it down over the next few weeks regarding macronutrients, the science behind them, and the pseudoscience/myths behind them.
Protein, protein, protein…must consume more protein. We all tell ourselves this when trying to get in a fit state of mind. But this mentality can get you into more trouble than you might think on your journey to be fit (we’ll talk about proteins in another edition).
We seem to have come under the illusion that fat is the enemy, and we must limit it in any way we can. The problem with such foolish ideology is that it is plain wrong; I mean, science would utterly disagree. Peak performance and optimal health require fats just as much as you require carbs or proteins (therein lies a problem with self-control because of our evolutionary programming). Among peak performance and optimal health, fats also play a critical role in brain function and nervous transmission, hormone generation, are necessary for the formation and repair of cells (after you exercise, no fat = no proper repair), needed for fat soluble vitamin uptake (for all you weightlifters, vitamin D isn’t going anywhere without fat), etc. The virtues are relatively endless. The vilification comes from a lack of self-control and poor timing. Generally, there are more appropriate times you should consume fat, because on average it takes about six hours to break it down into a usable form (be it from ingestion or stored). So just be mindful of how much you consume and when you consume it.
Fat, of all the nutrients, provides the highest concentration of energy (at about 9 calories per gram used) thus has the most potential for energy storage and reserve. Fat will be your primary energy source for low intensity exercises. Thus it is extremely important you keep time during your exercise, so you can determine which energy system you’re using (carbs or fats).
With respect to your energy systems, fat is a very slow producer of your cell’s energy currency (i.e. ATP) and will only produce ATP in the presence of oxygen. As I had previously stated, fats will only be recruited during low to moderate intensity exercise. In terms of your heart rate, that means your energy systems will shift use from mostly fat to mostly carbs at around 75% of your max heart rate. Not to sound too repetitive, this is why it’s key to time your workouts and focus on your level of fatigue.
Only a few take home messages today. First, eat fats; just be mindful of how much you consume and when you consume. Do your own research on fats (both healthy and unhealthy). I encourage anybody reading this to read a little about the difference between Omeg-3 and Omega-6 fats – because it is extremely important. Second, understand what diet works for you (it will require a lot of trial and error). For example, I myself maintain around 7% body fat through consuming mostly fats and proteins. Last, pay attention to the time and intensity of your exercises to determine what energy systems you’re using.
Matt Picanco, BHSc.