Nutrient Partitioning

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Nutrient partitioning: What it is and how it works…

    Nutrient partitioning is essentially the manipulation of the macronutrient (carbohydrate, fat and protein) content of diet in order to help achieve fitness or physiological goals. The macronutrient content of a diet affects the ability of the body to make progress when it comes to bringing about a particular change, be it fat loss or muscle gain. We have to carefully balance how much of each food group we take in order to maximise our potential.
    Suitable nutrient partitioning will be the difference between a person achieving nothing and a person achieving amazing results! Combined with an effective training programme, there is almost nothing a person can’t achieve if they apply good science to their diet and dedicate themselves to the task!
    A well-constructed eating plan can be an excellent muscle-building ally. As the blood sugar (glucose) is transported into the cells, proteins, vitamins and minerals are absorbed into the cells also, which actively encourages muscle growth. Suitable resistance training with effective pre and post workout nutrition will have you packing on lean body mass quickly and without the need for strange cocktails of drugs!
    Alternatively, a cleverly designed eating plan can diminish fat stores with almost frightening efficiency! By entering a reduced calorie (negative calorific) state, the body is forced to use up its stored energy reserves (fat). In very simple terms, this is reason we lose weight. This only works however, if we are taking in enough quality calories- if we eat too little our metabolism slows down, holding onto fat stores.
    The manipulation of hormone levels, especially insulin, is important when promoting muscle gain or fat loss. Insulin is one of the more commonly known hormones, having gained attention due to its role in diabetes and syndrome X. It is required shortly after eating to shuttle nutrients into muscle cells. However, if insulin levels remain elevated for extended periods of time (due to over-eating), the body becomes insulin resistant. Insulin resistance is a major problem, as the muscle cells do not absorb glucose in the normal fashion. If the muscle cells do not use the glucose, blood glucose remains elevated and the excess not utilised by the muscle tissue is stored as adipose tissue (fat). Ultimately, the result of over-eating is plenty of fat, and not a lot of muscle, regardless of how hard you train!
    By separating the carbohydrate and fats in meals, you are avoiding simultaneous high blood levels of sugar, fat and insulin. Elevated levels of these macronutrients are one of the primary causes of fat gain. Although there are certainly other systems of the body that contribute to gaining body fat, diet, rather than a sedentary lifestyle is the area that most overweight people need to work on. This may sound obvious, but what I am trying to get across is that a sedentary lifestyle is not inherently a reason to be overweight- fat levels are usually proportional to dietary choices, not activity levels. You can be active and fat. Managing macronutrient content of diets is not especially easy with processed food choices, which is why it is a good idea to prepare your meals yourself- that way you have total control over what you eat.
    Despite the fads over the last few years, very low carbohydrate diets may be effective for some, but their long-term benefit remains at best, questionable and at worst, downright dangerous! High levels of ketones in the blood raise acidity levels, leading to a whole host of health problems. When body fat can be reduced effectively using other means, I cannot begin to understand why people would put themselves through the punishment and health risk of a low carbohydrate diet.
    When you consume protein with fats, you keep insulin under control. This is a perfect opportunity for you to ingest some healthy fats too, which are vital for allowing for fat metabolism and increasing testosterone levels. The protein plus carbohydrate meals allow the body to become very anabolic, absorbing large quantities of necessary carbohydrates and amino acids into the muscle cells for protein and glycogen synthesis. The bonus of using this method is that there is no excess fat in these meals, ensuring fat gain is minimized even if you’re eating a boatload of calories. Basically this allows you to eat a large amount of healthy carbohydrates and fats in the same day without worrying about whether or not your hard work has been in vain!
    One important thing to remember when bulking is not to binge on huge amounts of food in a single sitting. The human body was not designed to cope with massive amounts of energy in one dose. Taking too much on board send insulin levels through the roof, it causes lethargy when blood sugar drops afterwards. Long-term fat stores are increased, insulin sensitivity is reduced and muscle anabolism is not as effective as it should be. Well-balanced, high-calorie meals at regular intervals are for bulking.
    Remember- with food partitioning we are focussing on achieving a particular goal- not just weight loss. Studies have shown that when it comes to simply weighing less (something I urge people not to focus on), reduced calorie intake is more important than macronutrient profile of those calories. You will lose weight by simply not eating as much as you should, more than likely due to a loss of both muscle and fat loss. If you want to reduce your body fat, or increase your lean body mass, your diet takes on extra importance.
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