Updated: Jan 20
The first thing that comes to mind when we think about the word “nutrition” from a fitness coach is small portions, starvation and extreme diets in order to lose weight. But what if I am here to tell you that it is none of the above!
When you take a well researched, scientific approach to nutrition, the way you look at food and in-turn the nutrition/nutrients that you get from it, becomes very different. You learn to enjoy the process and the gains that you get from it speaks for itself.
So let us delve into this a little deeper. What then is this thing called nutrition, simply put, it is the study of nutrients in food, how the body uses them, and the relationship between diet, health, and disease. In food, there are two types of nutrients that are broken down by our body to gain fuel or energy- they are macronutrients and micronutrients.
We’ve all heard the term, “macros,” haven’t we? But instead of it being something intimidating that we keep counting and stressing about, let us break it down into something simple that we can understand and know how to get enough of the right amounts of it in the food we consume everyday.
Macros or Macronutrients are nutrients that we need in relatively large quantities in our diet each day. They are Carbohydrates, Proteins, Fats and WATER!
Let us discuss each of them individually so we can understand the role the nutrient plays and then understand how to incorporate it into our daily food intake and do it in such a way that we don't starve ourselves but develop a healthy relationship with the food we eat.
Sugar, starch, and fiber are types of carbohydrates.
Sugars are simple carbs. The body quickly breaks down and absorbs sugars and processed starch. They can provide rapid energy, but they do not leave a person feeling full. They can also cause a spike in blood sugar levels and these frequent sugar spikes may definitely increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and its complications. This is the reason why most nutritionists and fitness coaches ask you to stay away from processed foods that are high in sugar.
But, before we start distancing ourselves from ALL carbs, it is important to remember that not all carbohydrates are bad for you. There are some fibers and unprocessed starches that are good for you. They are called complex carbs. It takes the body some time to break down and absorb complex carbs. That is the reason why, after you eat foods rich in fiber, a person will feel full for longer. Fiber may also reduce the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and colorectal cancer. And I would say that complex carbs are a more healthful choice than sugars and refined carbs. So eat more of these!
Proteins consist of amino acids, which are organic compounds that occur naturally. There are about 20 amino acids and some of these are essential amino acids, which means that we need to obtain them from the food we eat.
Proteins are very important for our bodies to help maintain muscle mass and it adequate amounts of protein is required to promote muscle growth when we train. Eating food rich in protein increases the feeling of fullness (satiety) more than the foods high in carbs or fats and this can help in reducing the overall calorie intake, hence prompting in weight loss for those individuals who are on that path.
That is why when we do not eat balanced diets, we tend to have a lot of deficiencies, which in turn lead into other complications that eventually leads to our bodies having less resistance to fight disease.
As soon as we hear this term we think it is bad, but unfortunately this is not the truth. We need essential fats in our body for many important functions such as
helping organs produce hormones
enabling the body to absorb certain vitamins
preserving brain health
But, yes, too much fat can lead to obesity, high cholesterol, liver disease, and other health problems.
However, the type of fat a person eats makes a difference. Unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, are more healthful than saturated fats, which tend to come from animals.
So, all this information can seem like a lot to take in at once. Here are some pictures to help with understanding how to build a healthy plate that will keep you satiated and will help keep your energy levels high all day!
Remember good food is like premium fuel for your body! If you want to perform better in the gym and become better each day, nutrition and sleep plays a huge part.
The adult human body is up to 60% water, and it needs water for many processes. Water contains no calories, and it does not provide energy.
Many nutritionists recommend consuming 2 liters, or 8 glasses, of water a day, but it can also come from dietary sources, such as fruit and vegetables.
Requirements will also depend on an individual’s body size and age, environmental factors, activity levels, health status, and so on.
Micronutrients are essential in small amounts. They include vitamins and minerals that are found in small amounts in the vegetables and fruits or the food in general that we eat everyday.
So, now that we have a basic overview of what kinds of food contain what kind of nutrients, let us see how we can incorporate this information into our daily eating habits. When you choose to get onto the path of losing weight or gaining muscle we need to understand that the way we plan and eat our meals directly impacts our goals.
Most people are quick to jump on the quick weight-loss/quick muscle gain bandwagon, only to fail quickly as well. I see a lot of people who come to me for nutrition assistance who have tried every new fad diet that comes their way, but a majority of the time, I see that they do not tend to be consistent with the food habits and I believe this is where the problem lies. We need to make dietary changes that we can stick to consistently and those that will enhance our training and quality of life, not disrupt it!
This can all seem like a lot of information, but training to be a better, stronger and fitter version of yourself takes time. So invest that time to understand your body and its needs. Once you do that, there is no limit to the potential you have to achieve your goals.
Heres to a new you!