Energy Distribution Among Nutrients

The choice of foods according to their energy value represents the basis for building-up the energy-controlled dietary regimens that are required under different conditions, such as reduction of body weight (in overweight or obese patients), increased energy demand during recovery from illness or surgery, or high-level physical activity [11,12].

Dietary fiber

Hexoses

Succinate

Pyruvic Acid

Acetate Butyrate

Actynomices Clostridia

Bifidobacteria Eubacteria

Clostridia Fusobacteria

Eubacteria Peptococci

Fusobacteria

Lactate

Actinomycetes

Bifidobacteria

Clostridia

Lactobacilli

Streptococci

Ethanol

Bacteroides

Clostridia

Acetate Butyrate

Actynomices Clostridia

Bifidobacteria Eubacteria

Clostridia Fusobacteria

Eubacteria Peptococci

Fusobacteria

Propionate

Bacteroides

Clostridia

Fig. 2. Metabolic products of carbohydrate fermentation by colon microflora

Table 2. Distribution of foods according to the four energy categories3

Foods Kcal/100 g edible part

Energy-dense foods

Oils and lard 900

Butter and margarines 750

Nuts 650-700

Chocolate 550 High-energy foods

Biscuits, cakes, crackers 400-450

Salami 350-450

Cheeses 300-450

Sucrose 400

Milk creams 350 Moderate-energy foods

Bread, pizza 250-300

Pasta, rice 300-350

Legumes (dried) 300

Meats 120-200

Fish 100-150 Low-energy foods

Fresh fruits 20-60 Vegetables and fresh legumes 10-40

aValues are referred to raw, uncooked weights (Data from [8])

However, in addition to the importance of controlling the total amount of dietary energy, food choices should be directed towards a balanced distribution of energy among nutrient sources. Epidemiological and experimental studies have led to the establishment of correct energy distribution among carbohydrates, fats, and protein, in order to prevent the onset of chronic diseases and to assure the maintenance of a good nutritional and health status. In this view, in the USA, more than 20 years ago, a Senate Select Committee stated that the energy distribution compatible with good health and that should be reached by the American population (dietary goals) should consist of 58% of energy from carbohydrates, 30% from fats, and 12% from proteins. Among carbohydrates, 15% of calories should derive from sugars and 40-50% from complex carbohydrates, while, among fats, 10% of calories should come from saturated fats and 20% from unsaturated fats [13].

Since then, many other studies have indicated more detailed distribution among dietary energy sources, with particular regard to the quality of carbohydrates and fats. For carbohydrates, there is now the tendency to ignore the previous distinction between simple and complex compounds (based on molecular weight) because physiological processes in the organism are not strictly dependent on the molecular complexity of the carbohydrate itself. In fact, the glycaemic index of foods (the response of glycaemia after carbohydrate ingestion) is influenced by factors other than the chemical nature of monosaccharides (glucose has a value of 138, while fructose has a value of 32, referred to the white bread = 100) and of starch (amylose, amylopectin, and resistant starch). These include cooking, other types of food processing, and the presence of other food components, such as fats and proteins, antinutri-ents, organic acids, dietary fibre. For example, among cereal products, cakes have a value of 87, cornflakes 119, spaghetti 59, and linguini 71; among potatoes, baked 121, boiled 80, and French fries 107 [14].

Therefore, the actual recommendation is consuming foods with a low glycaemic index value rather than excluding simple sugars from the diet. Nonetheless, control of the amount of energy

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