Weight Loss - Life's building blocks
Proteins are Complex Compounds made up of amino acids. Often called the "building blocks" of the body, amino acids are used to create, maintain, and repair all protein components of the body. These include body tissues such as skin, hair, bones, muscles, and organs, as well as digestive enzymes, hormones, various components of the immune system, and even genes.
The average adult needs about half a gram of protein per pound of body weight.
Infants need three times as much protein as adults to support their rapid growth, and children need twice the amount.
The richest sources of protein are animal foods, especially meat, cheese, and eggs. Protein is also found in some foods of plant origin, especially beans and nuts.
Regardless of a protein's source, how it is grown, processed, or prepared, the calorie count is the same. Every gram of protein contains 4 calories, the same gram for gram, as carbohydrates.
This does not mean that a gram of hamburger meat contains 4 calories. Hamburger and other meats contain both protein and fat. The 4 calories per gram is for pure protein. In fact, all calories per gram figures refer to these nutrients in their pure form. But most of the foods we eat contain combinations of nutrients.
The skinny on fats
Fats, or lipids, are non-water-soluble molecules that the body uses in many different ways. Fats supply immediate energy or can be stored for future use. They are an important component of many body cells. They transport nutrients, including fat-soluble vitamins, and playa key role in normal growth and development. Fats occur naturally in many plants and animals. Oils are pure fats in liquid form that are extracted from plant and animal sources.
Because of their high calorie content and the health risks associated with them, fats should make up no more than 30 percent of your daily caloric intake.
Many health experts recommend an even smaller percentage, going as low as 10 percent. The body cannot do without any fat at all, but in our culture there is little danger of anyone eating a fat-deficient diet!
Saturated and unsaturated fats
You have undoubtedly heard the terms saturated and unsaturated fats. To keep it simple: Saturated fats are solid at room temperature, whereas unsaturated fats are liquid. Butter and the fat you see around a piece of steak, for example, are saturated fats. Olive and other vegetable oils are unsaturated fats.
Although saturated fats generally come from animals and unsaturated fats come from plants, there are two exceptions. Coconut and palm (or palm kernel) oils are saturated fats, despite being of plant origin. This is a fact worth paying attention to since many commercial baked goods - cookies, crackers, and the like - are made with coconut or palm oil or both. Read the label before you buy or bite!
No matter whether they are saturated or unsaturated, animal or vegetable, natural, organic, virgin or processed, cold pressed or rendered, all fats provide the same amount of calories: 9 per gram.
How saturated and unsaturated fats differ is in the effect they have on cholesterol levels in your blood.
Saturated fats raise the level of LDL in your blood. And you know what happens to excess LDL. It is deposited on the inner walls of the arteries, leading to atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, and other health problems.
Unsaturated fats, on the other hand, do not increase the level of LDL in your blood. In fact, they lower it! That makes them a valuable addition to your diet. But beware: Even though unsaturated fats perform this cholesterol-lowering service, they still are packed with calories. Like any fat, unsaturaed fats contain 9 calories per gram.
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