NUTRITION SIMPLIFIED

June 10, 2020

By: Admin

Did you know the foods you eat have drastic effects on your health?

It does not take much, but basic nutrition principles to lead a healthy eating pattern and lifestyle. Your nutrition status says a lot about your emotional, physical and mental well being.

What Do You Understand by the Term Calories?

Calories are the amount of energy you get after consuming food.

Counting on calories? Well, you should, not because its the 'Trend', but because its about your health. If you put in more calories than you burn, you will store them as fat in your body which will lead to weight gain. If you consume fewer calories than you burn every day, you will lose weight. Total calorie intake plays a key role in weight control, weight gain and weight management.

Understanding Carbohydrates, Fats and Proteins

Carbohydrates (carbs), fats and protein are all Macronutrients.

These nutrients are needed in relatively larger amounts for body functioning and provides calories.

  1. Carbohydrates : Gives 4 calories per gram. These are of two types; Complex Carbohydrates and Simple Carbohydrates.
  2. Complex Carbohydrates : All cereals (wheat, rice, legumes, beans. etc) and its products (whole wheat bread, gluten free pasta, vermicelli, brown rice, white rice, coucous, oats. etc) are rich sources of complex carbohydrates and primary source of energy in most of the types of diets. These if taken in moderation, helps in weight loss, blood sugar control as they are rich in a component called fiber.

Also, starchy foods like potatoes, sweet potatoes and other tubers and roots are high in carbohydrates and calories. All fruits, vegetables and juices have low to moderate carbohydrates in them. Complex carbs can be consumed most likely in the meals during the day, like in breakfast and lunch to provide energy to function throughout the day.

  • Simple Carbohydrates : Few sources of simple carbohydrates are sugar, honey. etc. These if taken in excess have bad effects on overall functioning of body organs especially heart and pancreas. Simple carbs can most likely be taken in the breakfast to boost energy levels after night long starvation.
  • Proteins : Gives 4 calories per gram. Main sources of protein includes meat, fish, poultry, dairy, eggs, legumes, beans and vegetarian alternatives like soya.

These are second primary source of energy in most of the diets and are useful for muscle building, brain functioning, controlling blood sugars. etc.

  • Fats: 9 calories per gram. Sources of fats includes nuts, seeds, oils, buttercheese, beef. etc. Healthy fats (avocado, nuts. etc) in controlled portions and eliminating or minimizing unhealthy fats (fatty meat, butter, refined oil. etc) should be the ideal goal in terms of fat intake.

How much of each macro-nutrient you should consume depends on your lifestyle and current health status. (overweight, underweight, having any lifestyle disorder or diseased condition).

Micro-nutrients are important vitamins and minerals that one requires in smaller doses. Some of the most common micro-nutrients are Magnesium (role in energy production, brain functioning and muscle contraction), Potassium (important for blood pressure control, fluid balance and the function of your muscles and nerves), Iron (maintenance of hemoglobin levels, improves immune and brain function), Calcium (for bones, teeth, heart, muscles and nervous system).

The daily requirement of each micronutrient varies between individuals. If you eat a real food-based diet that includes plant and animal sources, then you should get all the micronutrients your body needs without taking a supplement.

Natural, unprocessed or unrefined foods are healthier to eat as they contains more nutrients and are low in calories comparatively.

A Balance of all the Macro-nutrients and Micro-nutrients is ideal to consume on daily basis to lead and ensure a healthy lifestyle.

Try to base your diet around these healthy food groups:

  • Vegetables: Low in calories yet full of important micronutrients and fiber.
  • Fruits: A natural sweet treat that provides micronutrients and antioxidants that can help improve health.
  • Meat and fish: Rich in proteins and essential fatty acids that helps in muscle building and brain functioning.
  • Nuts and seeds: Contains proteins and healthy fats that can be taken in moderation as these are also high in calories per serving.
  • Eggs: Considered one of the healthiest foods on the planet, whole eggs pack a powerful combination of protein, essential fats and micronutrients.
  • Dairy: Dairy products are good sources of protein and calcium.
  • Healthy carbs : Quinoa, oatmeal, wholegrain breads. etc have proved to be healthy and nutritious.
  • Beans and legumes: These are fantastic sources of protein, fiber and many micronutrients.
  • Beverages: Water should make up the majority of your fluid intake, along with drinks that incorporate healthy ingredients like a dash of lemon, mint, orange, sweetlime. etc. coupled with little or no sugar.
  • Herbs and spices: These are often very high in nutrients and beneficial plant compounds.

While no food is strictly off limits, overeating certain foods can increase the risk of disease and lead to weight gain or compromised health.

How about a Tailored Diet Routine?

If you are overweight or trying to lose body fat, it's particularly important to monitor your portion size, calorie intake, lifestyle (physical activity) and sound sleep. As little as improper sleep and eating habits can make you gain weight.

Remember, no favorite food needs to be off limit forever, but can be reduced in portion size or a healthier version of it can be introduced in the diet.

Supplements - A Boon or a Bane?

As the name suggests, supplements are meant to be used in addition to a healthy diet. Including plenty of nutrient-dense foods in your diet should help you meet your daily dietary needs, and in that case, supplements may or may not be required.

For example, Vitamin D, major source of which is sunlight exposure is found less in foods. People who has insufficient levels can be on supplementation prescribed by a trained professional.

Similarly, supplements like Magnesium, Zinc and Omega-3s can provide additional benefits if you do not get enough of them from your diet.

In a perfect world, your diet would be full of nutrient-dense foods with no need for supplements. However, this isn't always achievable in the real world. If you are already making a constant effort to improve your diet, additional supplements taken in acceptable amount can help take your health a step further.

Who Says Sleep and Activity Do Not Play a Role in Achieving Good Health Status!

Sound sleep helps in maintaining body hormones. Researches have also proved that poor sleep interferes with appetite and can cause weight gain.

Also, physical activity helps burn fat and maintain body weight. It is further advantageous in good heart functioning and building stamina.

It is best to combine good nutrition with other healthy habits like physical activity, good sleep and minimized stress. This will also boost your health, lower your disease risk and help you control your body weight. Remember, balance is the key.

Shirin Al Shaikh
Nutritionist, Clinical Dietitian
Lifter Life Healthy Restaurants                                                           

NUTRITION SIMPLIFIED

By: Admin June 10, 2020