Have you ever wondered why nutrition is so emphasized upon? Is it really that important or is it just a fad that has been going on for the past few years? If you want a genuine answer, then it is a ‘yes’. Nutrition is of paramount importance and there is no second opinion about it. Nutrition is the basis for all types of physical fitness. Be it a combat sport like boxing, MMA, or Muay Thai, be it an endurance sport like marathon running or relay racing, be it athletics like sprinting, high jumping, long jumping, or be it sports, nutrition is always the epicenter of every physical ordeal. Any personal fitness trainer in India would tell you the same. But how is it that it governs such a large part of physical fitness? Well, let me break it down for you.
Nutrition is essentially what we eat. And what eat can be classified into two broad categories, that is, micronutrients and macronutrients. These are further explained below –
Macronutrients or macros, as they are called popularly among gym folks, are the major chunks of nutrients that are needed for the maintenance of all the bodily functions. Now, these macronutrients can be broken down into three sub categories, that is, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. They are further explained below –
- Proteins – Proteins are required for building lean muscle tissues. Without lean muscle tissue, carrying out various physical pursuits is not possible. Building lean muscle mass also leads to muscle hypertrophy, that is, increase in the size of muscles. Proteins are also important because literally all the cells in our body are made it. Proteins are also required for building and repairing damaged tissues and cells. Proteins can be further broken down into amino acids, which can further be divided into essential amino acids, semi-essential amino acids, and non-essential amino acids.
- Carbohydrates – Carbohydrates are the primary sources of energy for human beings. It also constitutes the largest share in diets. However, this fact depends on the needs of the person. Carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars, that is, glucose, which is then further stored as glycogen in the liver and in the muscles as a source of energy. Carbohydrates or carbs are needed by the body to carry our physical activity. Carbohydrates can be divided into two sub divisions, that is, simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates can be defined as the type of carbs that get digested very quickly and provide a very quick surge of energy. This also leads to a sudden energy crash also known as a sugar crash. Complex carbs, on the other hand, are long term and consistent sources of energy that get digested very slowly and gradually. They do not cause a sugar crash.
- Fats – Before explaining what fats are, it is important to clarify that fats are not the enemy. There is a huge difference between dietary fats and stored fats. Dietary fats can be actually used to burn more fat from the body, on the other hand, stored fats have no relation whatsoever with dietary fats. That being said, dietary fats are also used as a source of energy by the body when there is a low supply of carbohydrates. It can be said that fats are the secondary source of energy for the body. Fats can be further divided into trans fats, saturated fats, and unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats can further be divided into monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). Among these fats, unsaturated fats (MUFA and PUFA) are considered to be the healthiest of fats because they help burn even more fat from the body. Fats are also a key component in the popular ketogenic diets which emphasize on the usage of fats rather than carbs as the primary source of energy.
Micronutrients are the smaller particles in our nutrition that too play a crucial role in our well-being and physical fitness. Micronutrients are essentially the vitamins and minerals that constitute the food we eat along with macronutrients. Vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin B’s, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, and minerals like zinc, iron, magnesium, sodium, copper, selenium, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and antioxidants are very important components of our diets.