Two weeks ago we touched on flex nutrition and the different types of fuel the body needs to function. Nutrition is very important for firefighters because roughly fifty percent of all the line of duty deaths every year are attributed to heart disease. The answer to this nutrition quandary is flexible dieting and it’s based on the simple principle that food is fuel and the three main types of fuel the body needs are protein, carbohydrates and fat. The first of these fuels is protein.
Protein: Protein is a catch all term for amino acids. Amino acids serve three functions within the body; First they help the body repair from injury, second they help the body with muscle hypertrophy (make muscles bigger) and third they help give the body overall structure. Protein is absolutely essential for anyone that lives an active lifestyle because without consuming enough your body goes into a catabolic state and burns off your muscle for energy. The second fuel type the body requires is carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates: People see carbs and they automatically run screaming to the hills because they have been conditioned over time to think over time that carbs are the devil. Carbs are not the devil!! If you are athletic in the least bit and training hard on a regular basis you have to have carbohydrates to be able to perform at an optimum level. The way this works is the body has two types of metabolisms; aerobic (in the presence of oxygen and glucose) and anaerobic (lack of oxygen of glucose). Anaerobic metabolism functions primarily on burning off glycogen stores in the liver and converting them over to energy for the body. Without glycogen stores the body turns to muscle for energy and starts burning built up muscle for energy; especially when you are putting in serious training. The other problem with limiting carbohydrate consumption over a long period of time is it damages your metabolism often times leading to post diet weight gain. The third and final fuel that the body needs to function is fat.
Fat: Fat just like carbs has gotten a bad rap over the years. Fat does not make you fat, end of story. Fat is necessary for many life functions within the body; it provides a secondary source of energy for the body and is necessary to help the body process certain fat soluble vitamins. Fat also helps provide cushioning for the joints and bones.
Utilizing these three macronutrients and figuring out how many calories your body needs you can do several things. You can loose weight, gain muscle, cut fat and perform better all while eating what you want when you want to eat it as long as you don’t go over you daily allotment of protein, carbohydrates, fat and calories. The third article in this article will go figuring out your macro nutrients and calories along with figuring out what caloric state that you want to be in depending on what goals you’re trying to achieve.
- Cagney, K. (2014). WTF is a Macro? In FD 2.0 A Flexible Nutrition Solution For The Modern Athlete (2nd ed., pp. 52-57).
- Biophysics 354 Lecture 2. (n.d.). Retrieved March 24, 2015, from http://www.life.illinois.edu/crofts/bioph354/lect2.html