All of the calories we eat comes from either a carbohydrate, fat, protein, or alcohol.
There are 4 calories in every gram of carbohydrate.There are 4 calories in every gram of protein.There are 7 calories in every gram of alcoholAnd there are 9 calories in every gram of fat. Aside from alcohol, the body needs all of these (carbs, protein, and fat) to function.
Protein is needed in the body to build and repair tissues, carry oxygen in the blood, and for a healthy immune system. It provides the building blocks for important hormones and digestive enzymes.
Protein is also important for blood sugar control and keeping you feeling fuller for longer periods of time. That is why it is recommend that every meal (and snack) should contain some form of protein.
Fat is needed in our diets to provide us with energy, make and balance hormones, form cell membranes, form our brains and nervous system, transport vitamins, and gives us omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that we can’t make on our own.
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for our bodies. Carbs are organic molecules typically classified according to their structure: simple and complex. Most of what we eat are complex carbs. Raw table sugar would be a simple carb. However, all carbohydrates we consume are broken down into simple sugars before they’re absorbed by the body, regardless of whether the food source is a simple sugar cube or a high-fiber bowl of oatmeal. The “healthier carbs” are digested and absorbed much slower while the “non-healthy” carbs are digested very quickly.
Once carbs are broken down and absorbed, these simple sugars go to the liver to fill energy stores. After that, they enter the bloodstream and other cells of the body. Insulin is then released in reaction to the sugar. A larger insulin response can be beneficial at certain times (like after an intense workout) and not so beneficial at certain times (like before bed).
The goal is to eat natural, whole foods.
“What is the diﬀerence between whole wheat and whole grain?”
Whole wheat is one kind of whole grain, so all whole wheat is whole grain, but not all whole grains are whole wheat. When buying whole wheat bread - or any whole wheat or whole grain product - Aim to eat carbohydrates with at least 3g of fiber.
Since we are talking about carbs, it is important to mention fiber. The recommended fiber intake is 25 - 35 grams per day for adults, or 10 - 13 grams for every 1,000 calories in the diet. The average American only eats about 11-13g of fiber.
This recommended amount should come from a combination of soluble and insoluble fiber, since each type provides different benefits.
Soluble fiber is "soluble" in water. When mixed with water it forms a gel-like substance and swells. Soluble fiber has many benefits, including moderating blood glucose levels and lowering cholesterol.
Good sources of soluble fiber include oats and oatmeal, legumes (peas, beans, lentils), barley, fruits and vegetables (especially oranges, apples and carrots).
Insoluble fiber does not absorb or dissolve in water. It passes through our digestive system in close to its original form (helps with digestion). Insoluble fiber offers many benefits to intestinal health, including a reduction in the risk and occurrence of hemorrhoids and constipation.
Most of insoluble fibers come from the bran layers of cereal grains.
Top choices for grains:
Bulgur (cracked wheat)
High fiber cereal
Whole grain barley
Whole grain cornmeal
Not so good choices:
Cookies + Candies