The basic nutrients


I am currently reading The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding by Arnold Schwarzenegger and I will summarize what I have learned in a series of posts about health, nutrition and diet. I highly recommend reading the book.

This is part 1 where I learn about the basic nutrients of food.

Disclaimer: I am not a certified nutritionist and make no claims to the contrary. Each individualโ€™s dietary needs and restrictions are unique to the individual.


The building block of muscle tissue, consisting of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. A positive nitrogen balance, or anabolic state is the ability to build muscle, while a negative state is catabolic, meaning losing muscle. In order form most to less usable protein, you can find it in eggs, fish beef, milk, rice, whole-grain wheat, peanuts, beans and white potato.

Aim for a combination of protein and carbohydrates from balanced whole-food diet to metabolize efficiently.


The primary form of energy, are sugars. The glycemic index is used to measure how quickly carbs are metabolized. A high index mean that the carbs are metabolized quickly and these are the simple carbohydrates for short-term energy. A low index means, as you might have guessed it, that the carbohydrates metabolize slowly, these are the complex carbs for long-term time-release energy.

When you eat carbohydrates, they are turned into glucose in the blood and glycogen that is stored in the muscles which in turn increases the muscle size.

Carbohydrates are also the main energy source for the brain and carbohydrate deprivation could cause effects on mood, personality and mental ability.

Carbohydrates is the energy source for intense training: they fuel the anaerobic exercise for short periods in absence of oxygen. Carbohydrate replenishment is best 20 minutes of finishing the training in order to have enough carbs in the system after training, otherwise the body uses amino acids for energy instead.


The most energy-dense of the 3 macronutrients, can be simple, compound or derived. It is the source of stored energy. It helps cushion and protect the major organs and it acts as an insulator to protect the body heat and against cold.

Aerobic exercise uses 50-50 of fat and carbohydrates but the longer you exercise, the high is the fat percentage.

Fat can be saturated which is risk for heart disease and high cholesterol, unsaturated and polysaturated. You should aim for 2/3 from polysaturated fats.


The major body component at 40-60%, is a vital nutrient and it helps transport chemicals in the system. Muscle tissue consists of 72% water. If you get dehydrated, the body retains water to protect itself, this water ill get contaminated and the kidney can’t filter it properly so the liver has to help the process which causes the liver not to be able to do it’s main function to break down body fat. Water retention can be also caused by excess sodium. It is recommended to drink 8 12 ounces glasses of water per day.


Vitamins act as catalysts to help trigger the reaction on the body. It can be water or fat-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins can be taken daily, they are not stored in the body and excess is flushed out in urine. Fat-soluble vitamins are dissolved and stored in fatty tissues of the body.


Minerals play a part in the metabolic processes like synthesis of glycogen, protein and fats. You can get minerals by eating plants or animals that eat plants.

Experts claim that there is not enough adequate amount of vitamins and minerals in the daily food intake. Supplements can add to energy, strength, endurance and ability to recover for hard training. According to Dr. Linus Pauling, the body cannot tell the difference between natural or synthetic.

Be careful about mega-dosing or minerals and vitamins, fat-soluble can build up to toxic levels stored in the body. You can find by trial and error what works best for your body and metabolism. Medical consultation and advice is recommended.

Essential amino acids

Parts of proteins that we obtain from food.

Essential fatty acids

Obtained from plants and fish oils.


  • The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding, by Arnold Schwarzenegger