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Roles and Functions of Macronutrients

Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats

When we exercise what fuel source do we use

Exercise intensity Exercise duration Fuel Used

Maximal Sprint
Low to moderate Severe

Moderate i.e. up to 2 hours Prolonged e.g. cycling

Carbohydrate and fat equally Less carbohydrates more fat

1. Carbohydrates are normally divided into 3 main categories Monosaccharides: these are simple one unit sugars (such as glucose, fructose and galactose) These types of carbohydrates cannot be broken down into smaller units. Monosaccarides can be used by the body immediately as they are digested very quickly and glucose is taken to the cells that need the fuel. Disaccharides; Such as sucrose, maltose and lactose these are made up of 2 monosaccarides. For example sugar (sucrose) is made up of glucose and fructose. Polysaccharides: These carbohydrates contain more than 2 monosaccharides and are called either complex carbohydrates (starches) or glycogen. All carbohydrates must be broken down into monosaccarides before the body can use them. Polysaccharides release energy over a longer period of time because the bonds between the elements need to be broken down. Polysaccharides can be divided down into either plant or animal polysaccharides.



Plant Polysaccharides Starch This is the storage form of carbohydrates in plants Found in seeds, corns, peas, beans and grains This is the most important source of dietary carbohydrates 2. Fibre Resistant to human digestion Technically not a nutrient High fibre intake is linked with lower occurrence of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Animal Polysaccharides Glycogen is stored in the muscles of animal meat which we eat. Once inside our bodies it can either be stored in the liver and muscles and glycogen or used as glucose. When glucose is needed for exercise our body needs to break it down to glucose to be used this is done through the process of gluconeogenesis

What are the functions of Carbohydrates

1. Energy Source- Glycogen and glucose each gram of carbohydrates gives 4 calories of energy 2. Protein Sparring- Using carbohydrate means protein is not used for energy production and therefore protein can be sued for its intended purpose of growth and restoration 3. Metabolic primer- Certain types of carbohydrates help the breakdown of fats 4. Fuel for the central nervous system

What food sources contain carbohydrates

Grains Fruits Syrup Candy Honey Pasta Vegetables Milk Sweets Sugar Rice Bread

Your body stores carbohydrates as Glycogen The main areas where glycogen is stored are the muscles and liver The reason glycogen is stored in the liver and muscles is because it can be used very quickly when exercise starts The glycogen is then broken down into its simplest form glucose for the body to use when exercising However if the glycogen stores in muscles are not replaced by eating or drinking after exercise then stores will fall and the athlete may perceive feelings of tiredness.

Carbo Loading
We know that if an athletes glycogen levels drop the athlete will start to feel tired when exercising. Carbo loading helps boost the glycogen levels within the muscles allowing athletes to exercise for longer and harder. This is because there is an abundance of glycogen in the muscles so when glucose is needed it is readily available. So How to you Carbo Load? Six days prior to a competition, the process begins. For the first three days the athlete consumes minimal carbohydrate and exercises so as to deplete the bodies glycogen stores In the last three days the athlete consumes primarily carbohydrate and reduces the training load

So how does it work? After the first three days the body worries that it is not getting enough carbs and therefore on the fourth day when carbs are eaten the body will store them as it is worried that it wont be getting any for a while. The body will replenish the glycogen stores over the second three days and top them up slightly as well. Beware during the first three days the athlete must continue to eat some carbohydrates as remember carbohydrates fuel the nervous system and the brain.

The most basic unit of fats are the fatty acids, this is the part of fats that are used for energy production. Fatty acids can either be: Saturated: this means that they contain lots of hydrogen which can be bad for the body, and is generally found in animal meat. These fats will tend to be solid at room temperature. Unsaturated: These do not contain the maximum amount of hydrogen and are generaly better for the body. They are most often found in plants and vegetables and at room temperature are usually liquids. Fatty acids are stored in the body in long chains called triglycerides.

Functions of Fats
Its is an essential component of cell membranes and nerve fibres It is a primary energy source providing the body with up to 70% of its energy when resting. Each gram of fat gives 9 calories Vital organs are surrounded and protected by it All steroid hormones in the body are produced from fats Body fat helps the body keep insulated. Fat helps you feel full up meaning you eat less.

How can an athlete utilize fats

Fats are an important energy store for athletes particularly those engaged in endurance events. As an athlete trains they become more able to use fats as a fuel, this is beneficial as fats provide more than twice the energy of carbohydrates per gram of fuel. It is easier for the athlete to use fats as more FFAs (Free fatty acids) are available to be used in the blood as triglycerides get broken down more quickly.

Protein is made up of amino acids of which there are 20. 12 amino acids are termed non essential i.e. our body makes them and therefore we do not needs to obtain them through food. 8 amino acids are termed essential and therefore we need to get them through eating or drinking. A dietary source that contains all of the essential amino acids is called a complete protein. Such a source is usually meat, fish , poultry or eggs. A dietary source of protein that doesnt contain all of the essential amino acids is called an incomplete protein such source of incomplete proteins could be vegetables of grains


Functions of proteins
1. It is a major structural component of the cell 2. It is used for growth repair and maintenance of the body tissues (anabolism) 3. Haemoglobin, enzymes and many hormones are produced from it 4. Antibodies that fight disease are made from proteins 5. Energy can be produced from proteins

Effects of protein on the athlete

An athlete needs higher levels of protein in his or her diet as it is used to repair the damaged muscles caused by training. When exercise uses all fat and carbohydrate stores the body uses the protein stored in muscles this is called catabolism and would result in the muscles wasting away. If taking part in strength training you will need up to 2.5 times the RDA of proteins however endurance athletes need only 1.5 times the RDA of protein despite the probability that protein is being used as a fuel. This is because the strength athlete needs the extra amino acids to use as a building block for muscle development. Any more than 2.5 times the RDA of protein places extra demands on the kidneys which will needs to remove the amino acids through urine. The alanine glucose cycle- This is difficult to understand so just try!! Not all protein in the body can be used for energy. However muscle protein can be, this can be broken down by alanine which turns the protein into carbon which can be turned into glucose through gluconeogenesis.

Methods of Improving performance through effective nutrition

Carbo Loading: As mentioned earlier Pre Match meals: The performer should aim to eat at least 350 grams of carbohydrates at least 3 hours before performing. This allows sufficient time for the glucose to be stored as glycogen in the muscle. The food should be easy to digest for example pasta or rice, these are complex carbohydrates (polysaccharides) which means energy will be released slowly The athlete should avoid at all costs fats and proteins during the pre match meal as these are more difficult to digest and could cause the athlete to feel bloated. The athlete should also refrain from eating too much simple sugars for example disaccharides or monosaccharides this would cause blood sugar levels to rise quickly. The body would then release insulin to counter act this and the body would start to feel tired and lethargic. High sugar drinks can however be taken in the last 30 minutes before a game when the athlete will actually be burning them during the warm up etc. Straight after a game or race the athlete needs to replenish the glycogen stores and he or she should do this as quickly as possible. Athletes can sometime find it difficult to eat a lot of carbohydrates straight after a game and therefore the best ways of getting carbohydrates into the body is through an isotonic drink for example Lucozade or Red Bull.