Really, How Important Is Nutrition
Nutrition is the thing that keeps us alive! We tend to look past the fact that food is the fuel for our bodies. When we struggle with weight loss the underlying factor that we never want to look at is, what are we putting into our bodies? Poor nutrition choices can greatly affect our day to day lives. A poor diet provides less nutrients and is more calorically dense making weight gain more likely. That’s why making the right choices on what we eat makes a difference in overall well-being.
What does making the right choices look like? Optimal nutrition is nutrient-rich foods, appropriate portion sizes, regular eating times, and hydration. Eating at the same time every day can have our bodies working more efficiently. That could be eating every two hours, having three meals per day, or skipping a meal (aka fasting). Whatever you choose, keep it consistent. Each meal should have a balanced amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Protein provides the building blocks for all tissues—muscle, bones, tissue, organs, brain—and supports growth and development to keep us healthy and strong. Carbohydrates or “carbs” are the main source of fuel for our body. They provide soluble and insoluble fibers that support gastrointestinal and cardiovascular health. Fats, primarily healthy fats, support joint health and the absorption of essential vitamins (A, D, E, and K). This is why it’s so important to include these key nutrients in every meal!
What is Healthy Food?
The next question you might ask is, what foods should I be eating? Most of the food that we think of as “good” or “healthy” food is the food that we should be eating. Lean protein/plant protein (poultry, beef, beans, tofu, etc.), carbohydrates in the form of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats (nuts, seeds, and oils). Look to make your plate colorful and that will make it easier to ensure you’re getting a balanced meal filled with plenty of vitamins and minerals. An easy way to portion these healthy foods out is to use your hand. For protein, the palm of your hand is the size of an appropriate serving. For carbs, the size of your fist, and for fats, the size of your thumb.
Our bodies are made up of about 60% water. Hydration is key and small changes can be impactful. When we’re dehydrated we can have headaches, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and impaired cognitive function. In order to avoid becoming dehydrated, we have to know how much water or calorie-free fluid to consume. To calculate this, take your body weight and divide it by two; that will equal the number in ounces of water/calorie-free fluid. For example, a 200lb man would need 100 ounces of water to stay at optimal hydration. The best fluid sources are water, coffee or tea (little to no sugar or cream!), or water plus a flavoring agent (crystal light).
Let’s put all of this into practice. We’re starting with making our eating more routine and consistent, being sure we have key nutrients (protein, carbs, fats), have the right food selection of those nutrients, following that with the right portion sizes (think palm, fist, thumb!), and finishing it with proper hydration. If we can put that on repeat every day then we are ensuring optimal nutrition and optimal well-being. Read a previous Training News entry to get into the more detailed aspects of nutrition!