Get to know your food, the basics part 1

If you ever thought about eating healthy or changing your life around, it’s so important to know what you’re getting into rather than mindlessly following a diet or nutrition plan. When buying a new car, you want to know all the basics like: what model it is, what kind of fuel it needs and what the fuel efficiency is (amongst other things). You want to know all of these things because that’s why you buy that specific car. It should be the same thing when it comes to our nutrition. We need to know the basic science of nutrition because that determines what food we need. We eat to get nutrients out of food, to give us energy and help build/maintain your body structure. Getting to know your food is important, especially now, when there’re so many different diets and nutrition plans out there. It’s hard to know what you should be eating or what plan to follow if you don’t actually understand what nutrients you’re eating or why you’re even eating it in the first place.

That’s where this blog comes in. I want to show you the basics of your nutrition that will make it a lot easier to understand what you’re actually eating.

Macronutrients 101

Nutrients make up the consistency of our food, it’s a substance that provides our body with energy, a building block for our muscles and vitamins and minerals.

Macronutrients aka macros are the main nutrients our body get out of food. We divide the macros up into 3 different groups: carbohydrates (carbs), fats and protein. Our body needs these nutrients in such large quantities that we measure them in grams (think about a food label). The second thing we want to know about these nutrients is the amount of calories each of the macros provide us with. Carbs and protein give us 4 calories per gram and fats give us 9 calories per gram. Imagine a handful of blueberries (carb heavy) and a handful of almonds (mostly fats), the almonds will fill your body up way more because it provides you with more than double the number of calories as the blueberries.

Examples per macronutrient are:

  • Protein:chicken, beef, lamb, tofu, eggs, different kinds of beans and fish
  • Fats:different nuts, seeds, cheese, oil, avocados and fat heavy Greek yoghurt
  • Carbohydrates:rice, pasta, oats, bread, all fruits and vegetables

We could place some of these foods in multiple macronutrient categories. To keep it simple we always want to look at what macronutrient it contains most. Most fatty fish (example: salmon) contains a lot of protein as well as fats, it mainly provides us with protein so that is what we classify it as such.

2 Energy sources and 1 building block

Just like the macros provide us with different amounts of calories, they also serve a different purpose inside our body.

Fats and carbohydrates are our two sources of energy, carbohydrates are a fast source of energy, fats are a slow source of energy. Carbohydrates get metabolized and digested fast where fats are metabolized and digested slowly, the difference lies mainly in the calorie density of the nutrient. Because fats provide more calories it also takes longer to digest, in turn this means fats satisfy us more than carbohydrates. Did you ever wonder why eating bread in a restaurant is normal but it never seems to satisfy you? Because it mainly consists of carbohydrates, which doesn’t satisfy us nearly as much as fats do.

Protein is our one and only building block. It’s a building block that mainly serves our muscles, to keep them strong, help them grow and support overall muscle health. Someone who works out a lot needs more protein than someone who doesn’t, because that’s the nutrient our body needs to grow and recover.

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Categories: healthy food, nutritionTags: , , , , , , , , ,

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