Back To The Basics – Nutrition 101
“Carbs are evil, don’t eat them!”
“You need carbs for energy! “
“Fat makes you fat!”
“Good fats are good for you!”
“Protein helps you lose weight!”
“Too much protein is bad for your kidneys!”
When reading information about how to get fit and healthy, I can almost guarantee at some point you have read each of the statements above at some time or another.
No wonder many of us are left confused and feeling helpless about what we can do to look and feel our best!
Well never fear, below I will clear up some of the most common misconceptions surrounding the nutrition basics, and arm you with the information needed to make good nutrition decisions in the future!
The word “carbs” has become a major buzzword over the last decade or so. What some people may not realize is that there are different categories of carbs and they have very different effects on the body. Here are the different categories with examples and how often they should be consumed:
Fibrous/Leafy Carbs: Eat these as often as you’d like in large quantities, at least 5-6 servings a day. Examples include: spinach, broccoli, asparagus, chard, cabbage, celery, sugar snap peas, kale, etc. And although not as fibrous or leafy, vegetables such as mushrooms, peppers, onions, cucumbers, etc. should also be regularly included in the daily diet. A serving of the fibrous/leafy carbs is typically 1 cup while a serving of the other vegetables is typically ½ cup. Keep in mind that if you increased your fibrous vegetable content too quickly, you may have some digestive issues, so a digestive support supplement may be a good thing.
Fruit/Sugary Vegetable Carbs: Eat 1-2 servings of these per day as they tend to be higher in sugar per servings than the carbs mentioned above. Examples include: all types of berries, apples, oranges, grapefruit, carrots, beets, cherries, etc. Also try and have these carbs with at least a little bit of protein and fat to help keep your blood sugar nice and stable. A serving of these types of carbs is usually ½-¾ cup.
Starchy Carbs: Eat 1-2 servings of these 2-3x per week (after weight training workouts) to help replenish muscle glycogen. Examples include: rice, oats, all varieties of potato, quinoa, etc. A serving of these carbs is typically around 1 cup cooked.
Refined/Sugary/Processed Carbs: These are not part of a healthy diet and should only be included as an occasional treat. Examples include: cake, candy, doughnuts, cookies, soft drinks, etc.
As you can see, not all carbs are created equal. Follow the advice above and you will on the right track to looking good and feeling your best in no time!
Myths surrounding the consumption of dietary fat may be some of the most pervasive myths in the health and fitness community, period. For years, dietary fat was demonized and everyone from Doctors to Nutritionists told us it would make us fat. During this time, fat was actually removed from many of the foods we normally consume, and was replaced with sugar so it would still taste good. What happened? We got fatter. Oops!
Here are just a few of the positive effects of a diet high in good fat: reduced body fat, reduced sugar cravings, reduced inflammation, increased ability to heal, more stable blood sugar, lowered bad cholesterol (LDL) levels, increased good cholesterol (HDL) levels, increased absorption of certain vitamins and increased production of mood-boosting chemicals in the body.
Sources of good fats: Consume a serving of one of these with each meal or snack every day. Examples include: olive oil, real butter, coconut oil, avocado, almonds/almond butter, whole eggs, walnuts, ghee, cashews, fatty fish, grass fed beef, etc. A serving of these fat sources is between 10-15 grams of fat and serving size will vary wildly among fat sources.
Sources of bad fats: Consume these as seldom as possible and in small amounts. Examples include: conventionally fried food, mass produced cakes/pastries, most vegetable oils (corn, soybean, cottonseed, canola, safflower), hydrogenated oils, etc.
As you can see, most of the good fat sources are natural and minimally processed, while most of the bad fat sources are highly processed and/or refined. So stick with the natural stuff and your body will thank you with a better mood, smaller waistline, and improved immune system…all great things of course! Oh, and did I mention that fat tastes incredible?
Unlike carbs and fat, there hasn’t been a major movement to slander protein in general. Sure there are debates about how much and what kinds to consume, but in general, most experts agree that protein is a good thing and we should eat it regularly. It can help decrease body fat, increase muscle tone, and keep you fuller longer. Keeping in mind that there is no evidence to suggest that high protein diets are harmful to healthy individuals, use the guidelines below to figure out just how much protein you should be consuming every day for optimal health and performance.
Minimal Activity Level (engage in strenuous, weight-bearing activity less than 1x/week):
.8 x body weight in lbs. So if you weigh 150 lbs, you would consume 120 grams of protein a day (.8 x 150 = 120)
Moderate Activity Level (engage in strenuous, weight-bearing activity 2-3x/week):
1 x body weight in lbs. So if you weigh 150 lbs, you would consume 150 grams of protein a day (1 x 150 = 150)
High Activity Level (engage in strenuous, weight-bearing activity 4-5x/week):
1.2 x body weight in lbs. So if you weigh 150 lbs, you would consume 180 grams of protein a day (1.2 x 150 = 180)
Extremely High Activity Level (engage in strenuous, weight-bearing activity 6-7x/week, usually collegiate or professional athlete):
1.5 x body weight in lbs. So if you weigh 150 lbs, you would consume 225 grams of protein a day (1.5 x 150 = 225)
Some good sources of protein include, but are not limited to: grass-fed beef, turkey, chicken, eggs, salmon, tilapia, cod, orange roughy, crab, tuna, shrimp, bison, pork, venison, lamb, elk, greek yogurt, and cottage cheese.
Although the guidelines above might seem like a lot of protein, you have to remember that the higher your activity level, the more calories you need to consume in general, and the more protein you will need to help repair your muscles. If you focus on having a large serving of protein at each meal, and some protein with your snacks, you should be able to meet your requirement in no time. You can also make up a protein deficit easily with a couple scoops of a delicious protein powder. You can see our favorite brand here!
A serving of protein is typically about 4 oz. or the same size as the palm of your hand, but you may have to eat more than one serving per meal to meet your protein requirements.
There you have it! An easy-to-understand breakdown of exactly what sources of protein, carbs, and fat you should be eating!
Let us know what you think below!