Food Fuels are so important that I am going to keep the information brief and memorable.
Food can be broken down into four main “fuel” categories: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and alcohols. Many of the things you consume are a combination of these energy sources, not just one or the other. Depending on the type of food consumed, there are variable amounts of energy (calories) attached to it. Here is a table that makes it simple:
Carbohydrates – 4 calories per gram
Proteins – 4 calories per gram
Fats – 9 calories per gram
Alcohol – 7 calories per gram
Now let’s think about it a little. Let’s say that we eat 20 grams of carbohydrates; well, we have consumed 80 calories, correct? The math is simple. There are 4 calories in each gram of carbohydrate foods so 4 x 20 = 80.
The same math holds true for a protein food. If it were 20 grams then it would be the same 80 calories.
When we eat fatty foods, the calories more than double. 20 grams of a fatty food end up being 180 calories since there are 9 calories per gram of fat.
Now that you know the math, you need to understand that fueling yourself properly is all about balance. Find a proper balance in the food fuels and you will lose body fat in a healthy and efficient manner.
The good news is that science and experience has shown us that there are excellent general parameters for how much of each type of fuel should be utilized by people looking to lose body fat through exercise and proper food selection. A sensible starting goal would be the following calorie percentages: 30-40% percent protein, 35-40% carbohydrates and 20-25% fat.
Knowing the goal is important, but it is equally important that you are aware of the main mistake people make in their daily eating (even while dieting), which is to consume far more carbohydrate calories than protein calories. Don’t let that happen to you, especially before and after exercise when protein is most critical. Think proportion. Think balance.