A lot of people label food as good or bad. This is not the best way to look at foods, we should view them as having more or less nutritional value.
When looking at weight, our body is only concerned with calories, you can put on weight eating so-called ‘healthy’ foods and lose weight from eating so called ‘unhealthy foods’. Focusing on calories does not mean that you ignore food quality, the two are not mutually exclusive.
A truly healthy diet should look like this:
Let’s delve further into nutrition and talk about Macronutrients
Protein (4 calories per gram)
Every cell in the human body contains protein. The basic structure of protein is a chain of amino acids. You need protein in your diet to help your body repair cells and make new ones. Your protein requirement will be bespoke to you depending on your physiology (muscle mass, height etc) and your goal (weight loss, weight gain, maintenance).
An ideal amount of protein per meal would be 30 grams. This will aid muscle repair/growth and also aid reduce hunger levels for several hours after.
Here are some examples of how you can get 30 grams of protein from various food sources.
Fats (9 calories per gram)
Fat is an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet. Fat is a source of essential fatty acids, which the body cannot make itself. Fat helps the body absorb vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin E. These vitamins are fat-soluble, which means they can only be absorbed with the help of fats.
Fat also gives your body energy, protects your organs, supports cell growth, keeps cholesterol and blood pressure under control, and helps your body absorb vital nutrients.
There are 3 different types of fats:
The important thing to consider is getting a balance of these in your diet.
Carbohydrates (4 calories per gram)
Foods high in carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy diet. Carbohydrates provide the body with glucose, which is converted to energy used to support bodily functions and physical activity.
There 2 different forms of carbohydrates
Complex & Simple
Inside of those there are different forms of carbohydrates/sugars:
As well as leaving you feeling full, high fibre foods contain lots of vitamins and minerals that are needed by the body. Fruit and vegetables which are high in fibre will keep you fuller in comparison to fruit juice which is higher in calories.
Fruit and veg will also replenish liver glycogen, which will keep you from feeling hungry.
Hydrogenated & trans fats
Hydrogenation is a process that fats go through to alter their state when turning a liquid into a solid. The problem with this process is that it alters the molecular structure of the oil and a by-product is created – trans fats. It is these trans fats that are harmful to our bodies. Try to avoid any hydrogenated ingredients and fats. You will see hydrogenated oils in products such as olive oil spreads, margarine and biscuits.
Being hydrated is very important, a cells hydration also governs its ability to contract – important when exercising. Drinking lots of water throughout the day has massive benefits, not only will it help you to feel fuller, but it also helps to lubricate joints and transport nutrients around the body. However, the body does not have a good hydration warning system as when you are thirsty you are already dehydrated. Beware that you will need more water on the days that you are exercising.
Alcohol or Ethanol is the first fuel that the body utilises before it reverts back to using carbohydrates or fats, so until all the alcohol in your system has been used your body ceases to burn fat.
Also, alcoholic drinks can be high in calories, plus, having a mixer with it, so a few drinks could very easily take up half of your day’s daily energy requirements without you even taking it into account. This would mean that you would not be getting the required amounts of macronutrients for the day.
There are also detrimental health affects alcohol has on your body; the big C, cardio vascular disease and sclerosis of the liver are all common with long term alcohol use above recommended amounts.