NCSF Personal Training Study Guide Chapter 8 – Understanding Nutrition 1

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    Chapter Goals:

    • Know the roles that energy-yielding and non-energy-yielding nutrients play in the body.
    • Understand the energy values of food and the aspects such as glycemic index.
    • Know the importance of the various mineral and vitamins in our diet.
    • Recognize the risks of excessive intake of protein.
    • Understand daily requirements for the macro and micro-nutrients.

    Energy Values of Food


    The law of conservation of energy states that energy is not able to be created nor destroyed, and instead will be transferred from one state to another through many different mechanisms. This is the first law of thermodynamics.

    Humans have the ability to consume, store, and release energy.

    Energy humans use will have started from plants, and then get to the body through many processes.

    A calorie is the basic unit of measurement for heat, and it is defined as the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius.

    Energy Value of Food

    The value of the energy of our food is respective of the heat yield when the product is used.

    Energy-yielding macronutrients are the ones that provide energy, which we call macronutrients.

    Non-energy-yielding nutrients are the micronutrients, which include vitamins and minerals, and these are necessary for the homeostasis of the body.

    Carbohydrates and proteins both provide 4 kcals per gram.

    Fats provide 9 kcals per gram.

    And alcohol is a nutrient that provides 7 kcals per gram.

    The net energy of food is going to be affected by the digestion and absorption process, and this is referred to as the coefficient of digestibility.

    Dietary Nutrients

    The factors that play a role in dietary sufficiency are:

    Food and nutrient timing

    Food quantity and type

    Variations in nutrient digestion, absorption, and assimilation

    Individual requirements for energy based on physical factors: age, sex, physical activity

    Other influences, such as dietary practices, preferences, and risk of food allergies

    Energy Yielding Nutrients

    The energy-yielding units are going to give the body tissues a way to make the ATP needed to do muscle actions and survive.

    Once energy is put into the bloodstream, the chemoreceptors in the tissues pinpoint each specific type of nutrient and determine the action that needs to be taken depending on the internal environment’s status.

    Some fundamental steps to understand when it comes to the use of energy in the body:

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    First, the energy nutrients are eaten, and the process of digestion breaks these food items down into their most basic form of energy.

    Next, the small intestine works to absorb these small nutrient forms into the blood and transport them to the tissues where they are needed for their respective jobs.

    Last, the metabolic organs find the ultimate outcome of the energy taken in via the regulation of hormones.


    All nutrients are needed for the proper functioning of the body, but carbohydrates are perhaps the most important nutrient relating to physical activity and the central nervous system.

    The carbs are going to fall into three categories:

    • Monosaccharides are the simplest form of carb. These come in the form of glucose, fructose, and galactose.
    • Disaccharides are the carbs formed when two monosaccharides bond to one another. These come in the form of sucrose, lactose, and maltose.
    • Polysaccharides are complex carbs that have long chains of monosaccharides. These come in the form of cellulose, starch, and glycogen.

    Glycogen is the storage form of carbohydrates in animal tissue, and starch is the storage form of carbs in plant tissue.

    Fiber is a non-starch polysaccharide that classifies as a carb. Cellulose is the most common form of fiber in the diet.

    Soluble fiber is a fiber found in nuts, seeds, oat bran, barley, beans, and some veggies and fruits. It attracts water and turns to a gel during digestion, thus slowing the digestive process.

    We find Insoluble fiber in wheat bran, veggies, and whole grains. It helps to add bulk in our stool and helps food pass easily through the intestines and stomach.

    Fiber does these beneficial things:

    • Enhances gastrointestinal (GI) function
    • Reduces irritation to the intestinal wall
    • Mobilizes harmful chemicals and compounds, inhibiting their activity
    • Shortens the time for intestinal transport and excretion
    • Decreases the length of time carcinogenic materials stay in the intestines
    • Slows down the absorption rate of carbs, which has a positive effect on blood-glucose dynamics

    Glycemic Response

    The glycemic index is a measure of the blood-glucose raising potential of the carb content of food. a 100 value is pure glucose.

    The glycemic response is the effect a food or meal has on blood glucose following consumption.

    Glycemic load is the index that describes blood-glucose raising potential of the carbs in food along with the quantity in the food.

    Low glycemic index food is considered to be a value lower than 55.

    A medium glycemic index food is considered to be a value of 56 – 69.

    A high glycemic index food is considered to be a value of 70 or more.

    Processed Carbs

    Food manufacturing manipulates the integrity of many sources of food, and this affects the glycemic response.

    These conditions may be associated with high dietary sugar intake:

    • Obesity, cardiometabolic disease, and systemic inflammation
    • T2DM or normal-weight diabetes and hepatic insulin resistance
    • Elevated visceral fat storage
    • Hyperlipidemia
    • Increased cortisol levels
    • Young age arthritis

    Hunger is the biological need to eat in response to a decline made in blood sugar levels.

    Appetite is the motivational drive to obtain food, and this often will be influenced by one’s own experiences and environment.

    The thermic effect of food is the amount of energy expenditure higher than metabolic resting rate due to the cost of processing food for use as fuel or storage as fat.

    Carbohydrate Depletion

    Carbs affect more than energy output; they also deal with metabolic biochemistry.

    As we’ve discussed, in times where the availability of glucose for energy is low, the body will result in using its protein for fuel.

    Some issues that come from the loss of protein-sparring mechanism:

    • Extended use of lean mass catabolism can reduce metabolism.
    • Oxidation of fat is reduced as the body relies on carbs for the metabolization of fat.
    • The incomplete breakdown of liberated triglycerides causes the buildup of ketone bodies, which increases acidosis risk.

    Carbohydrate Need

    The storage capacity of glycogen in the body is around 300 – 500 grams or around 1200 to 1500 kcals of energy. 75% of this is stored in the skeletal muscles.

    These numbers can be altered with specific changes in diet to assist with the storage of more glucose.


    Fats are known also as dietary lipids. These represent the other main source of energy that the body uses to fuel biological work.  

    There are also three categories of lipids:

    • Simple lipids are ones formed from fatty acids like waxes, fats, and oils.
    • Compound lipids are the lipids conjoined with other substances like phospholipids, glycolipids, sulpholipids.
    • Derived lipids are substances derived from simple and compound lipids by hydrolysis.

    Lipids perform many functions, like:

    • Provision of energy
    • Transportation of molecules in the blood
    • Storage of nutrients and vitamins
    • Service as conduction canals in the nervous system
    • Formation of hormones
    • Protection of organs
    • Regulation o