5 Pillars of Health (Nutrition)

Nutrition

Pillars of Health Fit By FatimaTo me nutrition is the number one pillar when it comes to our health. I truly believe we are what we eat, as everything we put into our body is transformed into “us”, it affects our energy level, our mood, our appearance, it simply becomes part of us.
We mostly do our best to understand what we are putting into our plate.

But before we go into details there are some point we need to take into consideration

Nutrition is not one plan fits all

You may have seen on a post or a paper, someone stating: “This is the perfect diet!!” “Do this and you loss 10 lbs”… well I am not going to tell you that it is not true, it may work for one person and may be for many others, but we have to understand that every body is different. We all have our unique metabolism and digestive system, for me when it comes to diet is a bit about trial and error to find the perfect one.

This is what I have been doing over the last few years. I take the information I know to be true, eat veggies, get a good amount of protein, focus on whole foods, avoid sugar and so on, then I try to find what suits my lifestyle, my culture and my taste. Yes, your diet should work for you not you working for it, if you are following a diet that is far outside of your normal way, it might be very hard for you to stick with it long term.

And let me point out one thing, we are not talking about nutrition to reach a specific goal, like change in body composition, we are talking about health. If your goal is to lose weight we know that the base is a “smart” caloric deficit, not starving yourself of course, and for hypertrophy (increase in muscle mass size) we need some extra calories and good amounts of protein.

Enjoy your food 

This is where some people get confused… “I enjoy chocolate and pizza and French fries…” I know, I know I enjoy those too. But I am talking about enjoying all parts of your diet. You know that for example, salad is a “good” option but that doesn’t mean that it has to be boring and not tasty. Get creative, try new flavours, experience new combinations and enjoy every bit of it. Remember if you don’t enjoy your eating lifestyle, you will most likely not be able to sustain it for long.

Balance is key

This point is important in anything in life but let’s stick with “food”. Having a balanced and variant diet will bring you all the nutrients you need without having to “sacrifice”. You can and should enjoy your “treats” with moderation. Learn to play with your diet, if you eat a bit extra in the morning cut down a bit in the night.

But don’t to that everyday, if once in a while you have a “cheat” meal or snack, that is not going to be the problem. If you are not sure of what each food has lot of calories or nutrients you may want to use an app to help you calculate your calories and macro-micro nutrient intake. You can use the health app on your smartphone or download My Fitness Pal, its easy to use.

Peel more unpack less

A sentence I got from a nutritionist and it makes total sense to me, hope it does to you too. I am a big supporter of whole food diet, I do use supplements when and if needed, but the base should always come from “real” food. Understand that when you open a package you have no control over what is in it, you can sure read the labels and make the “better” choice but nothing can compare to the “original”, for example compare a “box of pure orange juice” to you peeling the orange and squeezing the juice out yourself.

I also love cooking. I know not everyone is a chef, I’m not, but I try to prepare my own meals and I have fun doing it. Mixing the spices and flavours can be interesting and sometimes a disaster too. But overall I can say my mom taught me well.

Quality and Quantity 

I have had people say to me, I don’t eat that much and I still don’t get results… and I ask what are you eating?! Remember that quantity and quality are 2 very different things, you can have a full plate of food and a tiny slice of cake and the cake be more caloric then the plate of food. This is when you must learn what is what, check the next paragraphs.


Macro and Micro Nutrients

Macro-nutrients

Macro-nutrients are the nutrients we need in larger quantities which provide us with energy and body functions. These are categorized as Fats, Proteins and Carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates

All carbs consumed are eventually broken down by the body into glucose (main energy source for the body). In fact, specific organs like the brain, need glucose in order to function properly. Carbs are also used to synthesize amino acids (proteins) and allow for consistent bowel movements (fibres). It is recommended to have between %45-%65 of daily calorie intake from carbs.

There are 4 calories per gram of carbs. As we all know some carbs are simply delicious, so many times we eat more than we should. It is good to pay attention and keep track on daily intake to make sure the body has the right fuel but doesn’t go “overboard”.

Macro Nutrients Fit By FatimaProteins

Proteins are super important for our body and very often the intake is way below recommended.

Proteins allow our body to grow, build and repair tissues, and protect lean body mass. Proteins are broken down into amino acids which are classified into 2 types: essential and non-essential. Non-essential means our body can produce them, essential amino acids, on the other hand, need to be consumed to maintain optimal body function.

It is recommended to consume %10-%35 of daily calories from proteins, the minimum dosage recommend for adults is 0.8g per body kilogram, this amount should be higher if the individual is physically active (1.2 – 2grms). However very high levels (3grms or more) can have negative effect like kidney issues. Proteins have 4 calories per gram, so over intake can also cause weight gain.

Fats – most people can consider this the big villain, as small doses can be highly caloric, there are 9 calorie per gram of fat. The recommended amounts are %20-%35 of daily calorie intake. Fats serve as cushion organ, make of certain hormones, aid in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins and many other important roles. They can be classified in 3 groups: Unsaturated, Saturated and Trans. Trans fats are the “worse” for us found on many industrialized food. Saturated should also be consumed in moderation as they can cause high “bad” cholesterol. Unsaturated are known as the healthy fats, but remember to keep track of your calories.

Extra tip: when serving yourself start with the veggies and protein and leave carbs for last, you tend to eat more of what you put on your plate first.


Micro-nutrients

Micro-nutrients on the other end are nutrients we need in small amounts. They include vitamins and minerals.

Vitamins are necessary for the production of energy, immune function, blood clotting and many other functions. There are 13 different types of vitamins which can be acquired with a diet rich in variety (fruits, legumes, dairy, meats and so on). Sounds easy right?! Not really, getting all the vitamins in the right dosage can be very tricky, specially now a days with industry cutting on production cost of food available to us.

So turning to supplementation can be a plus, when chosen with the help of a specialist (nutritionist or dietitian), but remember a supplement is just an add on, NOT the base. Real whole food should always be the main source. One more things to consider, that most people don’t realize, is that there is a max recommended amount to every vitamin (upper intake level), so taking extra is not the solution.

Minerals play an important role in growth, bone health, fluid balance and more. Minerals are classified as essential and non-essential. Some essential minerals are calcium, potassium and magnesium, which like vitamins can be acquired from a good diet or with the help of proper supplementation.

Now that you have a basic understanding of nutrition, you have the power to make knowledgeable decisions. Nutrition can be fun and exciting, and like I mentioned before, it can be your best ally of looking and feeling your best.

Bone Appetit

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