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Understanding Nutrition: A Guide to Macronutrient Balance


Why Should We Care?


Embarking on a health and wellness journey requires the understanding of what your food is made of. Macronutrients—proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, are the building blocks of your diet and play unique and essential roles in body functioning and overall health. The American diet, often referred to as the Standard American Diet aka SAD is characterized by high consumption of red meat, processed foods, pre-packaged meals, high-sugar beverages, and high-fat dairy products.  We overconsume sugar, fat and sodium while we lack fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. Our diet has been linked to various conditions such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes due to its high calorie content and low quality in nutrients (nutritionfacts.org).

We collectively need to be more aware of the food we are consuming. The future of our species depends on it. When you educate yourself on WHAT you’re eating and HOW it affects you, the truth of the FDA surfaces. This opens your eyes to the artificial substances that are disguised in our everyday foods, causing disease, destruction, hormone imbalance and changes to our biological composition.

 



Understanding Protein:


Protein is crucial for muscle building and muscle recovery, making it a staple for everybody’s diet. There is a common misconception that protein is only essential for athletes and fitness enthusiasts, however, there are many reasons why individuals who are over 65+ need to make sure they consume adequate protein as well.

You may have heard of amino acids before. They are the building blocks and what make up the structure of protein. What we need to know about amino acids is that there are 20 total and only 11 are produced naturally within our body. That means we need to get the additional 9 essential amino acids from our FOOD.

Protein assists with muscle repair and muscle growth. Eating diverse food such as chicken, fish, eggs, dairy, legumes, and plant-based options like tofu and tempeh are recommended to achieve a complete amino acid profile, essential for optimal muscle health.

 



Understanding Fats:


Fats, often misunderstood, are essential for several bodily functions, including making certain hormones and absorbing vitamins our body needs to remain healthy and in proper balance. Fats get a bad rep, so it is crucial to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy fats.

“Bad Fats”: Saturated Fats and Trans Fats:


These 2 fats are generally considered less healthy, “bad” fats. These fats raise harmful LDL cholesterol levels. Increased levels of LDL have been associated with heart attacks and heart disease. These fats are commonly found in boxed goods, baked goods, and in fried food. Other foods to look out for are packaged snacks, frozen meals, and coffee creamers.


The following ingredients are Trans and Saturated Fats to look out for:


1. Partially Hydrogenated Oils

2. Full Hydrogenated Oils

3. Palm Oil and Palm Kernel Oil

4. Lard

5. Margarine

6. Shortening (including Vegetable Shortening)

7. Corn syrup

 

“Good Fats”: Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats


These fats include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are known as "good fats." These are crucial for brain health and inflammation reduction and are found in foods like olive oil, nuts, and fatty fish. Incorporating these fats into your diet can improve cholesterol levels and offer protection against heart disease. These fats work against LDL fats to dissolve LDL within your body. This helps to create space for blood flow, lowering blood pressure and risk for heart disease.

 



Understanding Carbohydrates:


Complex Carbohydrates


Carbohydrates are the primary energy source for the brain and are vital for maintaining cognitive function. They break down into glucose, the only form of energy the brain can utilize effectively. Emphasizing complex carbohydrates, such as those from whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, is beneficial as they provide a sustained energy release and are rich in dietary fiber, which helps regulate blood sugar levels. A complex carbohydrate is one that makes you feel fuller for longer.  


Simple Carbohydrates


Simple carbohydrates or “simple sugars” are easily and quickly digested in the body. This form of carbohydrate causes the sugar crash we may know well. Foods that contain simple sugars are candy, chocolate, sodas and sugary drinks, refined grains like white bread, white rice and pasta made from while flour and baked goods like cookies, cakes and pastries. These foods can lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar and are often low in nutritional value, contributing to weight gain and other health issues when consumed in excess.

TIP Nutrition Label Help: The following ingredients are added sugars to moderate 

Manufacturers are becoming aware that consumers such as yourself are limiting their sugar intake. This has caused them to include artificial sweeteners that are marketed as “sugar-free”, or “diet”. The sweeteners provide no calories and do not affect blood sugar levels like regular sugar which makes them very popular among diabetics and those managing calorie intake. However, there have been studies linking them to changes in our gut bacteria, appetite regulation and an increased desire for sweets via hormone production. I recommend raw honey as a sweetener.


The following ingredients are artifical sweeteners to look out for:


1.      Aspartame

2.      Sucralose

3.      Saccharin

4.      Acesulfame potassium

 



The Consequences of Excessive Dieting


When it comes to weight loss, a common misconception I often hear is people decreasing their caloric intake significantly, essentially putting their body into starvation mode. While it's important to manage caloric intake, excessive dieting can be counterproductive.

Severely restricting calories below your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) can decrease your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which is the number of calories required to perform basic life functions like food digestion, breathing, walking and other movement. This metabolic adaptation can lead to weight gain over time, as the body becomes more efficient at conserving energy. Furthermore, extreme calorie restriction can lead to muscle loss, weakened immunity, and nutrient deficiencies, highlighting the importance of a balanced diet.

 



 Conclusion:


Balancing the intake of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates is essential for achieving health and wellness goals. Understanding these macronutrients and their impact on the body empowers you to make informed dietary choices. Whether your goal is muscle building, weight management, or general health, a balanced approach to macronutrients is key.

By educating yourself about these essential nutrients and their roles, you equip yourself with the knowledge needed to make choices that support your health and wellness goals, ensuring a happy, heathy body.

 

 

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