Ready for your nutrition lesson? If your head is spinning at this point, feel free to skip this section read up when you are not so overwhelmed. Jump down to Suggest Food List and come back to this later.
There are Six Essential Nutrients broken into Energy and Non-Energy Nutrients
The Energy Nutrients (Macronutrients) are Carbohydrates, Proteins, & Fats.
Carbohydrates are considered the body’s most preferred source of energy for all metabolic functions. Approximately 50% of the energy obtained by the foods we eat is derived from carbohydrates and the remaining 50% is derived from proteins and fats. One gram of carbohydrates yields approximately 4 calories.
All carbohydrates can be categorized as follows:
- Monosaccharide – A Glucose and Fructose (sugar found in some fruits, fruit juices, and honey), and Galactose (a component of the milk sugar
- Disaccharides – Found in conventional table sugar; Sucrose (fructose/glucose), Maltose (glucose/glucose), and Lactose (galactose/glucose); the principle carbohydrate in milk.
- Polysaccharides – Basically Starch (corn, wheat, potatoes, beans), and Fiber (raw fruits, and vegetables).
The “simple sugars” (mono and disaccharides) are, for the most part, easily digested by the body, whereas starches, also known as “complex carbohydrates,” require longer enzymatic action. It is very important to understand that all sugars, regardless of whether they are simple or complex, are eventually broken down into glucose for energy use within the body. It is also important to remember that glucose (blood sugar) is the primary fuel source for the brain and nervous system.
Therefore, to achieve the highest level of mental and physical performance, it is critical to maintain and regulate the body’s blood sugar.
We will focus on mainly eating complex carbohydrates that are low in simple sugars.
Protein plays a major role in the maintenance and development of body tissue. The primary function of dietary protein is to provide the body with building blocks (amino acids) needed to support many vital biological processes. Since each individual varies in their age, lean body mass, stress, sleep, activity level, and type of activity, etc. it is NOT likely that any one standard of protein intake will apply and/or provide effective nutritional support for everyone. One gram of protein (complete or incomplete) yields approximately 4 calories.
For the most part, dietary proteins can be divided into two categories:
- Complete Proteins – beef, chicken, dairy products, eggs, fish, lamb, soy, and turkey. These proteins are called complete because they contain all the nine essential amino acids These amino acids are termed essential because the human body cannot synthesize them, therefore they must be supplied to the body via diet, and/or supplementation.
- Incomplete Proteins – nuts, seeds, rice, pasta, potatoes, yams and most beans. Incomplete proteins are simply protein-containing foods that do not contain all or enough of the nine essential amino acids.
Complete proteins are superior in amino acid content per unit weight than incomplete proteins. This is an important fact, since the role of amino acids (protein) in human metabolism is to build and maintain the tissues of the body and promote the breakdown and release of fatty acids from fat.
Protein replacements shakes – Protein shakes have a place in your meal plan but they should NOT be a main source of your meal unless you have no other healthy foods around to eat. Shakes make great snacks but only use it as a meal in the case of an emergency when you have no other healthy foods around to eat. Be sure to read the labels carefully, as many of these shakes have a TON of sugar in them.
You want a good quality shake that is low in sugar and chemicals you can’t pronounce. My favor shake is Shakeology (*note that I am a Shakeology distributor) but it can be expensive. My next favorite is Sun Warrior. It doesn’t have all the nutrients that Shakeology does, but it is a good, clean, healthy shake that has a very good flavor.
The good thing about Shakeology is that it provides you with enough vitamins and minerals that you won’t need to take a separate vitamin/mineral supplement. Price is the biggest obstacle. If you are interested Shakeology I will sell it to you at my price. A good place to get Sun Warrior is on Amazon or at Sprout’s when it goes on sale.
Food Bars – Like protein shakes, food bars can make great snacks but should not be consumed as a meal unless necessary. You will be amazed at the amount of sugar in these bars once you start looking at them carefully.
The parameters are the same for food bars as they are for shakes. Find a good ingredient, low-sugar bar. Some people are able to tolerate the artificial sugars and some not. It can give you diarrhea and creates stronger sugar cravings, but everyone is different. I recommend the Quest bars that are artificially sweetened, though there may be some newer, healthier versions. Oatmega is a wonderful bar without artificial sweeteners and 6g of sugar. GoMacro bars are a good, healthy option, but only ¼ at a time as they have 10+g of sugar per bar.
This brings up your emergency meal kit. Buy foods that fit into your ratios and are portable so you always have something on hand to eat when your blood sugar drops. This would include shake packets you can make with baggies and food bars,
Dietary fats are the most concentrated source of energy among the energy nutrients. Fats provide more than three times the amount of energy to the body than either protein or carbohydrate.
One fat gram yields approximately 9 calories.
Fats provide the following:
- Absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K
- The synthesis of all cell membranes
- The body’s most concentrated source of energy
- Helps regulate blood glucose levels
- Prolongs the emptying time of the stomach, creating a longer sensation of meal
- Greater food satisfaction
- Maintains healthy skin
- Provides the essential fatty acids
We will focus on healthy fats to fuel your brain and body and feel satiated.
The Non-Energy Nutrients – essential nutrients void of calories– (Micronutrients) are vitamins, minerals, & water
A vitamin is an organic substance that is essential to the human body and must be supplied in minute amounts to sustain life. For the most part, vitamins cannot be manufactured by the human body and must be obtained from the foods in our diet, or if necessary, through supplementation. Vitamins function primarily as regulatory substances and cannot be metabolized for energy.
Minerals are nutrients that are found within the body as well as in food.
Even though only 4 to 5 percent of human body weight is made up of minerals, these inorganic elements are essential for overall mental and physical wellbeing. Minerals are found in bones, teeth, soft tissue, muscle and blood. These essential elements also play a very important role in the skeletal system, heart, and brain as well as all the muscle and nerve systems within the body. Examples of
Because of the importance of these nutrients, it is recommended to take a good quality, multi-vitamin/mineral supplement daily
Water is probably the most underestimated essential nutrient in nutrition. It should be noted that the human body could survive for up to 5 weeks without protein, carbohydrates, and/or fats, and only 5 days without water.
Water performs three important biological functions in the human body: 1) It provides structure and form to the body, 2) provides the fluid environment for all cell metabolism, and 3) regulates the temperature of the body. It also helps keep you full and your skin and hair healthy.
******It is recommended that you drink at least half your body weight in ounces in water per day *********