“Those who have no time for nutrition and exercise had better reserve a lot of time for disease.” -Dr. Michael Colgan
Once you’ve spent some time around the gym, you’re likely to hear a lot about proper nutrition and hear terms like “macros”, “aminos”, “carbs” and “fatty acids” thrown around. What are they, and how do they affect your body? With this article, I hope you’ll have a better understanding of how and why basic, sound, nutritional principles are important to not only how you do in the gym, but to your overall health as well!
The Human body is basically a bio-chemical machine and requires daily nourishment to maintain the structural and energy requirements essential to metabolic and cellular function. You are made of about 50 trillion cells! Each one of these cells needs resources to do its individual, predetermined job - eye cells do eye things, bone cells do boney things, muscle cells pump you up - you get the idea! If the cells don’t get the food (resources) they need, in the form of amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, glucose, etc., then they fail to function optimally. The eye cells will fail to see as good, the bone cells won’t be as hard, the muscle cells won’t pump up or be strong - see how it works. The body can only sustain its systems a matter of days without nutritional food input before succumbing to degenerative illness or even death. If you’ve ever heard of the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance), this is the amount of the individual nutrients needed—not to be at your best health—but to prevent nutrient deficiency related illness, like scurvy - “I need all me teeth matey…Argh”
First off, there are Five Basic Principles of Nutrition. These are basically the rules that apply when thinking about how nutrients affect your body and health.
Nutrients do not function singularly. They function only by interdependent interactions with each other. It is the multiple interactions of nutrients that are the basis of their biological function.
Because of synergy, if one nutrient is deficient, it can offset the functional properties of its synergists. Likewise, if one is found in quantities too high, it can lower the absorption of its synergists.
Individual differences affect nutritional needs, such as training level, environmental pollution, age, smoking, stress, etc.
“RDA are recommendations for the average daily amounts of nutrients that population groups should consume over a period of time. RDA should not be confused with requirements for a specific individual.”
- RDA Handbook, 1980
More is not necessarily better, nutrients function optimally within a particular range, more than this can produce toxicity while less can lead to deficiency. Some nutrients, like vitamins, can be either water soluble or fat soluble. Water soluble vitamins will be excreted via the urine once the body is saturated with all it needs, however, fat soluble vitamins can be stored in the fat cells and build up over time and cause toxic problems.
5. Physiological Dynamics
Improved nutrition is not an ergogenic, or immediate effect, it requires the reproduction of new body cells and the renewal of body systems before its benefits show. That means popping an amino acid capsule or a one-a-day vitamin won’t create an immediate, noticeable benefit. Those nutrients have to be constantly present in the body while the cells undergo mitosis, or cellular reproduction, and create new, healthy cells using the quality resources present.
There are 6 Major Categories of Nutrients the body requires, and we’ll look at each of them in upcoming blogs.
Nutrients Essential to Health & Function