Understanding The Principles of Natural Dieting
Being on a diet and eating healthy food is necessary to be successful in reaching your goals. Having an understanding what of what makes up the foods that you eat is also important. Many people are familiar with the macronutrients whether they know it or not. Aside from counting calories and making healthier choices, it’s important that your diet have a good distribution between the three macronutrients.
Before you get an understanding of the macronutrients, let’s talk about nutrients in general. Nutrients are what make up the food that you eat and the drinks that you drink. They are important for many things such as brain function, digestion, heart health, tissue repair, energy, and the list goes on. Having an adequate amount of nutrients in the body is crucial for life. Nutrients are divided into two categories: macronutrients and micronutrients. Micronutrients are nutrients that the body needs in small amounts. These micronutrients are essential for produce enzymes, hormones, and other substances that are needed for proper growth and development. The micronutrients are water, vitamins, and minerals. Macronutrients are nutrients that are needed in large amounts for proper growth and development. Food is composed of some combination of three macronutrients. The three macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. These three nutrients are what the body uses as a source of calories, or energy. You have probably heard all about calories and what they do and how they are “bad” for you but they really aren’t. These three macronutrients that provide those calories are absolutely essential for living and even more importantly, are crucial to reaching all of your fitness goals.
Carbohydrates are what the body prefers to use as energy. Each gram of carbohydrate contains four calories. For example, if you were eating something that contained 200 calories with 20 grams of carbs, 80 of the calories come from carbohydrates. There are many kinds of carbohydrates: monosaccharides, disaccharides, oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides. It isn’t absolutely necessary to focus on which form of carb you are eating when dieting. Aside from the kinds of carbohydrates there are, carbohydrates are split up into two categories: simple and complex. There has been much debate over which is better for you. Complex carbohydrates usually take more time to break down which provides the body with energy for a longer time. Simple carbs break down relatively easy and don’t provide as much nutrition as complex carbs. When it comes to incorporating carbs into your diet, stick to complex carbs such as whole grains, brown rice, and legumes and avoid simple carbs like soda, sugar, white rice, white bread, and cookies.
Fats, also known as lipids, are the densest of the three macronutrients. Compared to each gram of carbohydrate having only four calories, fats provide nine calories per gram. You may see on a nutrition label right under the total calories that is says “calories from fat” and this is what it’s talking about. If that number is high, that food is probably high in fat. Fat gets a really bad rep when it comes to dieting and weight loss. Many people try to avoid fat and purchase many “low fat” products. While eating too much fat can become problematic, fat in small amounts is necessary for many aspects of life. Some functions of fat include insulation, cell structure, vitamin absorption, and hormone production. There are a couple of kinds of fats, some better than others. The fats that should be consumed in the diet include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats have been shown to improve heart health as well as decrease abdominal fat. Fats that should be avoided include saturated and trans fats. Consuming large amounts of these fats can clog the arteries which can lead to heart disease down the road.
Like carbohydrates and unlike fats, each gram of protein contains 4 calories. Proteins are the building blocks of both humans and animals. The number of functions that proteins play in the body is ongoing. To name a few, proteins form most structures in the body such as the brain, nervous system, hair, skin, muscle, and blood, it helps to transport vitamins, minerals, and oxygen to all parts of the body, and protein also helps to control the acid base balance of the body. Proteins are made up of amino acids. There are two categories of proteins: complete and incomplete. The complete proteins contain all of the essential amino acids. Proteins from animal sources contain all of the essential amino acids making them complete proteins. Incomplete proteins are proteins that do not contain all of the essential amino acids. Foods from plants such as fruits and vegetables are classified as incomplete proteins. There is only one exception: soy. Soy is a plant based, complete protein. Many vegetarian diets are high in soy because it’s the only food that does not come from animals that is an excellent protein source.
Now that you know what you should be eating, you also need to be knowledgeable in how much you should be eating. In order to stay within your nutrient needs and maintain a healthy lifestyle, your diet should break up the macronutrients by: 45-65% of your daily calories coming from carbohydrates, 10-35% of your daily calories coming from protein, and 20-35% of your daily calories coming from fats. This is a general rule of thumb for all people. There are numerous ways that you can distribute all three macronutrients to make a diet. Here are two of the most common diet types that distribute the macronutrients differently. High carbohydrate diet: 60-70% of your daily calories coming from carbohydrates, 15-20% of your daily calories coming from protein, and 15-20% of your daily calories coming from fats. The most popular kind of diet is a high protein, low carb diet. Distributing your fats, carbs, and proteins in this way has been shown to significantly decrease body weight. Nowadays, people consume way more carbohydrates than they should so being on a “low carb” diet is actually quite normal. Carbohydrates are very important for many functions of life so it’s important that you do not cut them out completely. Follow this distribution and you should be golden: 15-20% of your daily calorie needs coming from carbohydrates, 60-70% of your daily calorie needs coming from protein, and 15-20% of your daily calories coming from fat.