Posts Tagged ‘fatty acids’

Understanding Food: Proteins

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Last week, I gave a layman’s breakdown of dietary fat — that perennial bogeyman — and what types are out there and what you should and should not eat. Up this week: protein.

I will first say this: if you eat meat and some occasional legumes, you’re probably getting adequate protein levels for a sedentary activity level. Protein is very important to create a favorable glucagon-insulin balance. (Glucagon is a peptide hormone that is stimulated by protein, or decreased blood sugars, via fasting and exercise. Insulin, on the other hand, is released in response to elevating blood glucose and/or amino acids. What we don’t want is consistently high insulin levels, as that leads to a condition called insulin resistance (aka Metabolic Syndrome), which is bad stuff. Boo.)

Anyway. I digressed. Holy cats.

Let’s just put it this way: unless you are active or an athlete, you probably don’t need to supplement with protein. You don’t have the recovery needs of an athlete. You just need to make sure you’re getting enough.


Understanding Food: What Are Fats Besides a Bad Word?

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For the past three (four?) decades, the macronutrient we were most often told to avoid is fat. Fat is joined by protein and carbohydrates to form the triumvirate of macronutrients you hear bandied about the media so often. Fat, a short form of ‘fatty acids’, is thought to make you fat, predicated on the fact that fat has 9 calories per gram, whereas protein and carbohydrate only have 4. Fat is fattening, so says the mainstream, because it’s caloric energy is over twice that of neighboring macronutrients.

While fat is more calorie-dense than protein or carbohydrate, that’s where the ‘danger’ ends. (The Inuit, whose diet is comprised of 90% fat, would probably agree). Without writing a biochemistry text, here is what you need to know about fat.

Saturated Fat

There have been no two more demonized words over the past 30 years than ‘saturated fat’. Which is too bad, because these form some of the most basic structural fats found in a healthy human body, and they’re a primary energy source for the human metabolism.

We have been relentlessly bombarded over the past 30+ years to think this type of fat gives us heart disease and makes us fat, and that’s simply not true. The fact is that you can eat as much of these as you want if you’re metabolically healthy, and be better off for it.