Let’s be real. Nutrition can be pretty scary when you first start out, so I think it’s time to simplify things! Eating well can seem like a lot of work, especially with so much information and different opinions going around.
When explained in the context of all its parts, nutrition sounds exactly like what it is: a complicated science!
Luckily, nutrition doesn’t need to be as difficult as so many people make it. You don’t have to read through thousands of pages yourself of books and websites to determine your body composition, and you definitely don’t need to intensely calculate Every. Last. Macro!
But! Having a knowledge of basic nutrition can help you keep healthy and balance your intake to help you meet your goals more effectively! After all, you’re probably not training for the Olympics, but you still want to rock that bikini body, right?
Got all that? Great! Let’s get to work! Don’t worry, we’ll keep it simple!
Put simply, calories are a measurement of energy - it tells you how much energy you could get from the food you are eating. The more calories you eat, the more energy you create - so if you eat more calories than you burn, you gain weight. If you eat less calories than you burn, you lose weight.
Pretty simple, right?
The most calorie dense macronutrient. Fat contains 9 calories per gram - that’s more than twice the amount of calories as carbs or protein, both of which contain 4 calories per gram!
Unfortunately fat has been given a pretty bad reputation in recent times. Both scientists and the public believed that the amount of fat we consume through our diet directly affects our body fat and weight status; we now know this isn’t true!
Yes, fat consumption can predict certain disease outcomes, but it is not the predictor of body weight and body fat that it’s made out to be.
Some types of fat have healthy, protective benefits that we’ll discuss later on, in Part II.
As I said before, carbs carry about 4 calories per gram. They are also probably the most recognizable. They are the obvious things like bread, pasta, rice, and grains, but also fruits, vegetables, beverages, and sauces.
Carbs have also suffered the same perceptions as fat, thanks to low-carb diets you may have heard like Atkins and South Beach. Both of these focus on carb reduction to control caloric intake and promote weight loss.
Your overall caloric intake is the most important part in weight reduction and maintaining your weight. Some research suggests that carb consumption plays a role in storing fat.
Also containing 4 calories per gram, protein is made up of individual amino acids that are basically building blocks for cells and tissues. If you aren’t getting adequate protein, your body starts to break down your muscles for fuel!
While the most of us get enough protein, the quality and variety of protein is most important. Be careful though, certain forms of protein increase the risk of disease - cured and processed meats have been shown to increase risk of stomach and colon cancers!