November 7, 2011

What are fats and protein?

A fat is a waxy, oily substance and is essential for good health. Fat has double the amount of calories and so poses a problem to individuals who find it difficult to exercise.

If you break down a fat you break it down into something called a fatty acid and glycerol.

Proteins are made up of chains of amino acids and are necessary for your body to build enzymes, antibodies and haemoglobin. When you eat protein, your body breaks the protein down into amino acids and then tries to re-assemble them into other configurations to make other needed proteins for use around the body.

Carbohydrates, fats and protein can all be broken down into smaller units. Each one of those macronutrients can be sub-divided. In the case of proteins, proteins are made up of amino acids. Not all proteins have the eight essential amino acids that the body needs. If you are consuming protein and you miss out the essential ones for long periods of time, you are putting yourself at risk of becoming malnourished. In some cultures around the world where food isn’t so plentiful, children can become malnourished and develop diseases such as Kwashiorkor. The children have the distended tummies, however the rest of their bodies are fine, this unfortunately is caused by a protein deficiency.

Scientists can actually measure the quality of nutrients that people are getting. People will volunteer to be involved in a clinical feeding trial and they will hook these people up to all kinds of measuring devices to measure everything from body temperature to how much moisture they exhale. They weigh and eliminate brine in their feces and record everything they can about these patients. They will feed these people a controlled diet – controlling the amount of protein consumed. They can measure how much is excreted, how much weight a person gains and basically they can determine how much of that protein is utilized by the body. When they do that they can determine the quality of the protein and the amino acids that makes up the protein. They can determine how well the body absorbs protein and assign a number value to the protein as to how well it is absorbed. Some proteins are absorbed extremely well, an example would be egg albumin, which is a protein found in the white of an egg rather than the yolk. The egg white protein has an extremely high biological availability and all of the essential amino acids in the right balance. Gelatin though has many of the essential amino acids however does not have an amino acid called tryptophan and because it is lacking – it isn’t considered a complete form of protein. If it is combined with other sources of protein it is okay. The bottom line is if you are looking at carbohydrates, fat or protein, it is important to look at the composition of them. You can read the declarations of the food labels. Often snack foods will contain inefficient protein, or protein that does not contain all the essential amino acids. It is important to know that all carbohydrates, fat and proteins are made up of these building blocks and it is important to know to have a balance of all of these building blocks for good health.

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