Basics to Nutrition
Nutrition is something that just about everyone seems to struggle understanding. I think that's partially due to the influx of information and diets available. People get distracted and lose track of the basic principles of nutrition. I am going to try and break some principles down for you and simplify it.
Lets get into it!
What is nutrition?
Nutrition is the process of providing or obtaining the foods necessary for health, growth and optimization.
That leads us into our nutrients. Macro Nutrients and Micro Nutrients.
Macros: These are your top tier nutrients. The ones your body needs relatively large amounts of. There are 3 types of Macros:
1. Carbohydrates- used for quick energy in cells
2. Proteins- used for cellular structure. Important for building and repairing tissue.
3. Fats- used to store energy. Also important for cushioning of organs and protecting cells.
Micros: These are your smaller groups of essentials- vitamins and minerals. Our bodies produce some of these but the rest we must get through our diets. These are called the Essential Nutrients. If you eat a real-food based diet (plants and animals) you should get all your micronutrients necessary for the body.
Whole Foods are obviously going to be your best option and route for optimizing your health. Whole foods simple means natural, unprocessed and most likely contains one ingredient...itself. Natural, whole foods tend to be more nutrient dense but low in terms of energy density. Meaning that they're loaded with nutrients but low on the calorie scale. Processed foods tend to be the opposite with no real value and high in calories. By adjusting what you are eating, adding these whole foods and reducing the processed ones, you'll undoubtedly reduce the poor food intake.
The Quick List: What to Eat!
Vegetables: Fundamental aspect to a balanced diet- low in calories and full of important micronutrients.
Meat and Fish: These have been the major source of protein throughout evolution. Staples to the human diet.
Nuts and Seeds: Like vegetables these can be a valuable source for quality micronutrients.
Eggs: The whole basket per say. Possibly one of the healthiest foods on the planet. A tremendous combination of protein, beneficial fats, and essential nutrients.
Beans/Legumes: Excellent source of fiber and protein.
Herbs and Spices: Often high in nutrients and beneficial plant compounds.
Foods to avoid- Limit intake, not eliminate
Sugary based products and refined Carbohydrates: Candies, sodas, white breads etc. You're junk foods.
Trans Fats: Luckily these are now illegal in the US after having been linked to serious diseases.
Processed low fat products: These products are disguised to be healthy but that isn't usually the case. When something has reduced fat, they've removed something and most likely added something back. In the case of something like yogurt, when fat is removed, there are more sugars added to enhance flavors.
When in doubt, remember Double P's- protein and produce! To me this is the best way to start organizing a meal. Pick your protein, pick your produce and you've got the start to a balanced meal. High in nutrition and low in calories. Start adding more whole foods into your diet and I truly believe you can start developing better nutrition habits slowly.