Human Performance & Athletic Development
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Nutrition

Human Nutrition: The Basics

Eating food is the most intimate action you can take.

Think about how many thoughts we have in a day, how many steps and breathes we take, alongside all the of the small actions actions that occur within our bodies.

Any action your body takes is powered by our dietary lifestyle. With that being said, I believe it is essential for everyone to know the basics of nutrition since that is what the general population is in need of understanding.

What will be covered in this post:

  • Calories & Empty Calories
  • Macronutrients, what they are, and excellent sources

Calories

Simply, calories are the amount of energy available after you have digested food. Empty calories have the same description except they lack any nutritional or mineral content, which means it does absolutely nothing for you. Empty calories can be derived from junk foods and beverages that encourage a handful of side effects that deprive the human body.

Macronutrients

  • Protein- 4 Calories per gram
  • Carbohydrates- 4 Calories per gram
  • Fats- 9 Calories per gram

Protein

 

Protein makes it happen in our bodies. Aside from building muscle,  protein builds enzymes that encourage chemical reactions in the body. Protein also serves as the foundation of developing antibodies for immune system function while developing important structures such as hair, skin, nails, and blood. 

Excellent whole sources

  • Grass fed beef, lamb, and wild game
  • Chicken
  • Fish (Salmon, Mackerel, Whiting)
  • Eggs

Excellent vegan and/or vegetarian sources

  • Quinoa
  • Grains + Legumes 
  • Legumes + Nuts & Seeds
  • Dairy + Grains

There are plenty viable protein sources for vegans and/or vegetarians. The key not is that you do not have to have a complete protein every single meal; the combination throughout the span of a day will provide enough amino acids for protein regulation. I will talk about my experiment going Vegetarian and how I successfully went about proper nutrition and training.

Carbohydrates

I will start with what carbs are not; your enemy. Simple carbohydrates are the deterrents of health. Simple carbohydrates that come from fruit sources are not inherently negative either, but like any other food, has be ingested at moderation.  Carbohydrates are the human adapted preferred energy source which is stored in our muscles and liver as glycogen to be utilized for energy later. An over consumption of carbohydrates to encourage the storage of fat. There are three types of carbohydrates to be noted and will be explained along with their sources.

Simple Carbohydrates: Are either monosaccharides and disaccharides. Monosaccharides are the glucose, fructose, galactose, and lactose in the diet but are overwhelmingly dominated by glucose. Disaccharides are the sugars are combination of either lactose sucrose, and maltose. Even though all are do not provide negative health effects, these sugars are the main culprits in glucose and insulin spikes that if induced consistently over time encourages diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and a host of other cardiovascular diseases. 

Simple Carbohydrate Sources (Typical American Diet)

  • Sodas
  • Cookies
  • Baked Goods
  • Fruit Juice
  • Breakfast Cereals

Complex Carbohydrates are the good carbohydrates that promote insulin sensitivity by way of the slow digestion and low spike of glucose from their intake. Complex carbohydrates are not as easily broken down in your body therefore the release of insulin from the pancreas is diminished in comparison to simple carbohydrates which help keep health and waistlines on track.

Sources:

  • Rolled Oats
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Fruit*
  • Quinoa
  • Starch Vegetables

Fiber: There are two types of fiber that include functional fiber and dietary fiber. Functional fiber can be found naturally or synthetically but offer benefits in helping alleviate gastrointestinal symptoms and reduce cholesterol. Dietary fiber are usually found in vegetables and fruit that keeps you full 

Fat

Fats get a bad rap but a diet rich of good proportions of fats are beneficial for your health. They are the most caloric dense of the macronutrients so they should be monitored when eating the healthiest of fats. Fats can be broken up into three categories; saturated fat, trans fat, and unsaturated fats.

Saturated Fats: These are not your friends when over done. High amounts of saturated fats have correlated with heart disease due to the damaging effects on the cardiovascular system. These fats increase LDL levels which are deemed the "bad" cholesterol.

Sources: Solid at room temperature

  • Butter
  • Margarine
  • Tropical oils

Trans Fat: These fats are terrible for you. I will just list what they are in and avoid as much as possible.

Sources

  • Chips
  • Crackers
  • Processed Foods
  • Cookies
  • Shortening

Unsaturated Fats are the  healthy fats that include polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that encourage the increase of HDL which are beneficial for health. These fats are associated with good health and heart protective properties.

Polyunsaturated Sources

  • Vegetable oils
  • Safflower oil
  • Soybean Oil
  • Flaxseed Oil

Monounsaturated Fat Sources

  • Avocado
  • Nuts
  • Olive Oil
  • Peanut Oil

 

Knowing the basics of nutrition will give you an understanding of what to eat and how foods benefit you. Serving my clients, these basics are often skipped which lead to negative healthy patterns that are not understood. The basics are the essentials and what the majority of country should know and have proven to be extremely beneficial in my practice.