Nutrients are the life-sustaining substances found in food.
By Santiago Martín Pazos
I often ask myself why are we so tempted to eat the foods we should avoid?
I can pinpoint at least seven logical reasons: hunger, habits, economics, marketing, availability, convenience, and nutritional value, but probably the strongest reason to choose the wrong food is TASTE.
Our eating habits are sometimes associated with memories of happy occasions: family gatherings in the Holidays, birthdays and celebrations. The economy also plays a huge role in the way we eat. Cheaper foods are usually worse for you.
Since we all keep very busy lives, we may be tempted to pick up food that is easily accessible but full of toxic ingredients, pop a frozen dinner in the microwave, order mediocre delivery or just prepare those dishes that can be done in five minutes. These choices reveal the way we feel about ourselves, and stress definitely affects our nutrition. Before you pick up the next bag of fast food, stop to think about the nutritional value of what you’re eating.
Nutrients are the life-sustaining substances found in food. They not only supply the energy for our bodies, but also work to regulate the growth, maintenance and repair of body tissues.
Being a personal trainer allows me to educate people about the nutrients they need and the adequate amounts of food intake required for optimum health and fitness. We should remember that healthy body weight represents a healthy body composition. Here is a brief explanation of the essential nutrients need for good exercising.
Photo: Antonio Gravante / 123RF Stock Photo.
Body fat is our primary energy reserve. It is stored in the fat cells located between the skin and the muscles all over the body, as well as within skeletal muscles. Fat fuels light to moderate intensity exercise, and is a valuable metabolic agent for muscle activity. It is the most concentrated source of food energy and supplies 9 kilocalories per gram; protein (4 kcal/gram) or carbohydrate (4 kcal/gram). It is also necessary for the proper functioning of cell membranes.
The average diet should have between 40 and 50 grams of fat per day, although the type of fat you eat is very important!
• Saturated fat (full fat dairy products and meat should account for no more than 10% of your total calories)
• Trans fat (processed food, partially hydrogenated oil) close to zero
• The main sources of your dietary fat should be oils, nuts, seeds and fatty fish. Eating unsaturated fat instead of saturated or trans fat can help lower your cholesterol levels and decrease your risk of heart disease.
Since fat is essential to our diet, it's important to include good fats every day. It's also vital to meet your daily need for essential omega-3 and omega-6 fats. Omega-6 is easy to get since it's found in virtually all types of oils. Omega-3 is harder to find. For women to meet the daily-recommended intake of 1.1 grams, their diet should contain fatty fish, canola oil, flax, walnuts and omega-3 enriched products like milk, cheese and egg. For men the U.S Department of Agriculture recommends fewer than 65 g of fat or 585 calories daily if you are on a 2000-calorie diet, and fewer than 80 g of fat or 720 calories if you eat 2500 calories daily.
BUT! No attempt should be made to consume more fat, especially since most people (ejem ejem coff coff) consuming a high-fat diet typically consume fewer carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are the most important nutrients for exercising muscles. Adequate amounts of carbs are essential not only for muscular performance, but for the brain and central nervous system as well.
The principal functions of carbohydrates are:
• Primary energy source
• Ensure that the brain and nervous system function properly
• Help the body use fat more efficiently
There is one fact to have in mind, if you are having a hard time maintaining normal workout intensity, your carb release may be inadequate. Unless adequate glycogen levels are restored, exercise performance will continue to deteriorate to the point where even a low intensity workout causes fatigue. Glycogen is the form in which carbohydrates are stored in the muscle.
It is recommended that at least 55 to 60% of your total calorie intake come from Carbs (fruits, veggies and dairy products).
And then there is PROTEIN, which has the principal role of building and repairing body tissues, including muscles, ligaments and tendons. Contrary to popular belief, protein is not a primary source of energy except when you do not consume enough calories or carbohydrates.
Suggestion! An active adult needs about 0.8 to 1.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
Let me see (digging into my funny bag)! You can do this: your weight in lbs. divided by 2.2= weight in kilograms. Your weight in kilograms times 0.8= your protein requirement per day.
I hope this baseline helps to round up knowledge about how to care for your body’s nourishment. Sorry, good nourishment, which is the key to a long healthy stress free life! ■
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