Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Calories and Our Body's Fuel

Today's Activities
While waiting for my computer to install some software at my office, I decided to take a walk. The installation was going to take a while. So I just walked around the block and a bit more. I ended up doing it twice. The total time was about 12 minutes and the distance was just a little over a quarter of a mile. Not bad. But I still felt a little sore from yesterday. This evening I got on my stationary bike planning to do 15 minutes of moderate effort. As soon as I got on I found the batteries to the control unit were dead. So that meant I would only have easy effort. Instead of 15 minutes I did 30. Of course I did my stretches after. Yes I should have done them before, but I only did them after. I felt pretty good.

The Fuel For Our Body
Basically we have three types of fuel in order for our body to function correctly. These fuels need to be taken in a proper balance. If we get to many we can get fat and cause damage to our bodies. If we get to few, our bodies won't function properly and again we can damage our bodies.

Carbohydrates
This is the first fuel our body needs. It is the easiest for our body to digest and process directly into energy in the form of a sugar called glycogen. Our brains function on this sugar and it is essential to proper fueling of your body when doing any activity. If we get to much our body stores this fuel as fat and does so very efficiently. Most Americans get too much of this fuel in the form of sugar. Too much can also lead to being over weight, diabetes, migraines, stress, and insomnia, to mention a few. We also experience waves of energy and feelings of being tired. If we get to little we risk all sorts of problems too. Sports scientists have found that athletes that do not consume enough carbohydrates risk muscle damage that can lead to injury. It appears that as soon as our body runs out of carbs it then turns to its own muscle tissue for fuel when exercising. We also can become disoriented, hallucinate, and can pass out. If you are a diabetic, to little sugar can send you into shock and can lead to death. The amount of carbs you need is directly proportional to your activity level.

Protein
Protein is the building block of our bodies. Everything from your skin, muscles, internal organs, immune system, and even our blood is made up of protein. Americans in general get too little protein. Not enough protein can lead to muscle loss. Most people who diet actually loose more muscles mass than they had before dieting, because they don't eat enough protein. If you get to much protein your body can't store it as well as is does sugar, but it will turn it to fat. The by products of digesting too much protein can cause all kinds of long term health problems. You can get diaria to get rid of certain types of excess protein. Long term excessive eating of meat can lead to gout. Of course eat too much and you will become over weight.

Fat
Believe it or not fat is actually essential to proper body fiction. It keeps us warm and help regulate our temperature. Our nerves are covered with a type of fat. Our skin is water proof because of fat. Certain fats actually clean our arteries of cholesterol. Fat can keep you from starving to death. But as Americans we get WAY TOO MUCH Fat. These leads to being over weight, heart disease and ultimately our own untimely death.

Fiber
Fiber is more of a regulator. When you eat the proper amount of fiber, it slows the digestion of sugar and evens out how it enters the body. Think of our stomach as a source of immediate fuel like a stack of cut wood. Do we want to through all the wood on the fire or let the fire keep a certain size and add wood as we need it? Our bodies are similar. Our body wants to dump it fuel all at once, but fiber keeps the fire burning regularly and feeds in the fuel slowly. Fiber keeps us regular. Most Americans do not get enough fiber.

Bad Carbs
Of all the carbs we have to eat High Fructose Corn Syrup was invented by the devil him self. When I was growing up I drank a lot of Kool-Aide. 2 quarts had about 1 cup of sugar. That comes down to about 2 tablespoons of sugar per cup. That is actually a lot of sugar. Now just about every kind of drink there is, especially fruit juice is loaded with High Fructose Corn syrup. A glass of juice or soda can have as much as twice the sugar of Kool-Aide. That mean a 1/4 cup of sugar per cup of juice or soda. Avoid anything that says high fructose corn syrup on the ingredients.

What Are The Right Amount Of Calories
Your calorie need depend on your age, height, sex, and activity level. The best weigh to find out how many calories you need to to go to the Mayo Clinic web site on calories. It will ask you a few questions and give you the answer. Check it out here. Calories counting is important but can be very time consuming. Though I suggest you keep track of your calories, you may just want to go to the next step.

What Is The Proper Balance Of Fuel
Now you need to know, how much protein, carbs, fat and fiber you need. To find out go to the My Food Pyramid web site. It is run by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and gives you the answers in easy to understand measurements rather than a calorie number. Check it our here.

Good Luck and Get Healthy!
The key is going to sound like a broken record, but proper diet and excersise are vital!

2 comments:

All About Teri B. Clark said...

I looked at the list - I'd starve that way. 5 oz of beans/meats a day. Shoot, if I ate 2 lean cuisines per day, I'd get more than that.

All About Teri B. Clark said...

Hey everyone - I saw Sean walking to get his hair cut today. Just thought I'd let you know that he is REALLY doing what he said he was going to do!