What should I eat and where do I start?
Let’s start with the basics; nutrition is a science that is focused on the interactions between living organisms and their food. It includes the study of the biological processes used in consuming food and the body’s ability to use the nutrients contained in the food. Nutrients are chemical substances contained in food that are necessary for sustaining life; they provide energy in the form of calories, contribute to the structure, and functioning of the body. There are four macro nutrients and two micro-nutrients. The macro-nutrients are water, protein, fat and carbohydrates and the two micro-nutrients are vitamins and minerals (which we’ll discuss in at a later date).
Let’s talk about proteins, fat and carbohydrates, the macro-nutrients. Any food that you eat is a protein, fat, carbohydrate or some combination of these three macro-nutrients.
First let’s discuss proteins, proteins are the building blocks of the body. Proteins are involved in all biochemical processes in the body, they help fight infection, carry oxygen and regulate most of the body’s functions. It is essential that we consume good, complete proteins to maintain a healthy balanced system. Approximately 30% of your daily caloric intake should come from good quality proteins. Examples of good quality proteins are pastured eggs, grass-fed/finished beef, and wild caught and low food chain fish.
Fat is an excellent source of energy and is required for optimal health and no, eating fat will not make you fat! Fat has many roles within the body, as mentioned above fat provides us a source of long lasting energy, fat is the building blocks of our cell membranes and our hormones. Fat is required to absorb fat soluble vitamins, A, D, E & K, which perform a variety of functions in your body. Fat helps regulate blood sugar, keeps us satiated and make food taste good. Good fat should make up approximately 30% of you daily caloric intake. Examples of good fats are animal fats from pastured animals, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, olive oil, avocado, and properly prepared nuts and seeds. Fats you want to avoid are hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated, processed and vegetable oils.
Finally, we come to the ever so controversial Carbohydrates. Today let’s just stick to what they are and the role they play in our body. Carbohydrates provide fuel to our brains, they are a source of quick energy for our muscles, help regulate the metabolism of fat and protein, and contain fiber which helps with regulation and elimination of waste. Approximately 40% of your daily caloric intake should come from unrefined complex carbohydrates, meaning vegetables, fruits and whole unrefined and properly prepared grains.
Let’s recap…As a starting point your daily caloric intake should come from 30% protein, 30% fat and 40% carbohydrates. Now remember this is just a good starting place. You may choose to adjust your protein intake depending on your personal preference and current goals. You may decide that you feel better eating more or less fat. You may also decide to increase or decrease your carbohydrate intake depending on your activity level. These percentages are just a starting guideline. Play around see what works for you and what allows you reach optimal health.