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Macronutrient Guide

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macronutrients in bodybuilding

Macronutrients include the 3 groups of foods intended to provide energy to the body and ensure its vital functions : proteins, carbohydrates and lipids. Each nutrient having a distinct function in the body, we suggest that you take stock of these 3 categories, in order to better guide you in your health objective, muscle building, mass gain or weight loss.

THE PROTEINS

Dietary proteins

Their role in the body

Protein is essential for health. “Protein” comes from the Greek word “proteos”, which means “primary” or “first place”. Protein is made up of 20 amino acids that help form the thousands of different proteins in our body. One of the main functions of proteins is tissue growth. Every cell and tissue in our body contains thousands of proteins, and the amino acids we get from our diet allow our body to re-synthesize the proteins it needs to maintain the integrity of its tissues. For example, when our body is exposed to potentially harmful substances like bacteria or virusour immune system activates the protection of the system through proteins called “antibodies”. There are proteins in every cell of our body; from our hair to our nails, through our muscles and our organs. Protein also plays a vital role in transporting micronutrients including sodium and potassium into and out of cells to maintain proper electrolyte balance.

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Their role in muscles

As seen previously, protein is the building block of the whole body. When we exercise, muscle tissue is damaged and needs to be rebuilt through protein synthesis. This process is the basis of building muscle. Protein also affects our body composition by regulating hormones and water retention.

CARBOHYDRATES

Carbohydrates in our body

Their role in the body

At the biological level, carbohydrates are molecules that contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. One of the main functions of carbohydrates is to provide energy to our body. Most carbohydrates in the foods we eat are digested and broken down into glucose before entering the bloodstream. Blood glucose is taken up by cells in our body and used to produce a fuel molecule, called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Most cells in the body can produce ATP from several sources, including dietary carbohydrates and fats.

Their importance for muscle mass

When glucose runs out, the main risk is that muscles can be broken down into amino acids and converted into glucose or other compounds to generate energy. Consuming a minimum of carbohydrates in the diet is one way to prevent this loss of muscle mass. Carbohydrates reduce muscle breakdown and provide glucose as energy for the brain in particular, which needs it to function properly.

LIPIDS

Lipids in bodybuilding

Their role in the body

Fat is essential for the body: it provides energy, absorbs certain nutrients and maintains our body temperature. We need to consume fat every day to support these functions, but beware, some types of fat are better than others. Good fatty acids protect our heart and keep our body healthy, while bad fats increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. When carbohydrates (which are the main source of fuel in our body) run out, our system turns to fat as a potential source of energy. Lipids are the most caloric macronutrient. One gram of fat contains 9 calories, more than double the amount of calories from carbohydrates and protein. Also, certain types of vitamins depend on fat to be absorbed and stored, notably vitamins A, D, E and K (the fat-soluble vitamins), which cannot be effective without an adequate daily consumption of lipids.

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Their role in improving body composition

Testosterone, a key player in the muscle building process, is primarily derived from cholesterol. A diet high in “good” fats also increases our levels of “good” cholesterol, or HDL. It also helps us to produce more hormones, thus increasing the production of amino acids in our cells: useful both for muscles, but also for the loss of body fat. In short, there are essential amino acids but also essential fatty acids, which are also necessary to build muscle mass! More than 60% of our gray cells are made up of fat. Good fats, including omega 3, are mainly derived from nuts, vegetable oils and fatty fish.

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