Following on from our last article we shall address the three key types of fuel your body needs to function well and burn away the excess fat, and how they help our bodies.
These are Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats.
Carbohydrates are a body’s primary source of fuel, containing a high level of the natural sugar. Without this fuel we would not be able to burn fat and function efficiently, quickly causing our body to store fat rather than burn fat. However, too much or too little sugar can have a negative effect on our bodies. Two different types of carbohydrates have a different effect on our blood sugar levels and therefore a strong influence over the control of our body’s fat-burning and fat-storing modes.
These are complex, and simple (or refined) carbohydrates. The former refers to whole foods that have been exposed to minimal or no processing, are still in their original state, and are higher in fibre.
Simple carbohydrates however, are those that have been refined and processed where the original grain is stripped of its fibre and nutrients and ground very fine to produce e.g. white bread, white pasta, as well as pastries, cakes, and biscuits.
Other simple carbohydrates are also those lower in fibre such as white rice. Extra carbohydrates come in the form of added sugars usually any ingredient ending in “-ose” and syrups. These sugars confuse our body, cause our blood sugar levels to fluctuate, and our body will store rather than burn fat.
Eating more complex and less simple carbohydrates, both in frequency and portion, is key to maintaining balanced blood sugar levels, and helping us to lose and maintain weight.
Proteins are the building blocks of our body. Their primary function in the body is as a structural component, in particular, muscle tissue, skin, hair and nails, and the production and stabilisation of hormone levels. They also help regulate our blood sugar levels, which in turn controls our fat-burning and fat-storing modes.
As the main material of our muscle tissue, protein has a big influence on our metabolism – the rate at which our bodies burn fat (for energy) even in the absence of any kind of activity.
Muscles use up a lot of energy when resting, and use up a significant amount more after we have exercised – when they are in their repair, toning and strengthening phase. This is why increasing your consumption of lean proteins is just as important as maintaining regular exercise. Unfortunately when we don’t eat enough of the right foods such as lean proteins and complex carbohydrates, our bodies burn the protein in our muscles for energy, not only impacting upon the shape, tone and strength of our figures, but slowing down our metabolism, resulting in our bodies storing more food as fat rather than burning it up as energy.
Fats not all oils or fats are unhealthy, small amounts are very healthy and some are even essential to heart, digestive, skin, nerve and brain health.
They are also essential for optimum weight management and body toning.
Omega 3 (O3) and Omega 6 (O6) are called Essential Fatty Acids. They are essential because the body cannot produce them, so we must obtain them from our diet. We naturally require a higher amount of Omega 6 to Omega 3. However the typical western (UK) diet contains far too much O6 to O3, which means we must now eat more foods rich in Omega 3 to rebalance our diet.
Heating certain oils such as virgin olive and sesame seed oils, can change their composition from healthy oil into dangerous oil which may increase the risk of high cholesterol, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, obesity and cancer. Therefore use only those underlined for cooking, and the rest for dressing our meals.
Typical bad fats are called saturated, trans-saturated, and partially or fully hydrogenated fats or oils. These fats are very harmful to the body, raising our bad cholesterol level (LDL), blood pressure, which if become blocked can cause heart attacks and strokes.
By swapping our consumption of high fat foods e.g. fried foods, red meats, dairy, and processed frozen and packed foods, with foods that are rich in healthy essential fats, you reduce your risk of causing heart disease, strokes and weight gain. Nuts and seeds contain essential fats which means controlled portions of no more than two servings daily will help provide essential nutrients such as selenium, zinc, magnesium and iron as well as B vitamins, protein and essential fatty acids.