Nutrition: Back to Basics

A lot of people starting off dieting or changing their lifestyle are looking for a quick fix, and I was too. Google searching ‘7 Belly burning foods’ will do nothing to help your health and body recomposition efforts, in fact it will probably do the exact opposite. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but there are no quick fixes or magic weight loss foods. Losing weight and changing your body composition takes time, dedication and  a willingness to learn. In my opinion, one of the main factors driving the obesity epidemic is lack of education and the public being given misleading information from companies trying to sell you a product. In this post I want to lay out a few basic nutrition principles that I have come to learn over the years which I wish I knew when starting off my health and fitness journey that hopefully will be able to help you too.

  1. Energy in vs. Energy out

A very simple concept that a lot of people tend to over look is energy in vs. energy out. In simple terms think of food as energy. On days that you are doing a lot off activity your body will use more energy than on the days that you are doing less activity. To maintain body weight you must be expending the same amount of energy as you are consuming, to lose weight you must be expending more energy then you are consuming, and yes, you’ve guessed it, to put on weight you must be consuming more than you are expending.

It might seem obvious but being aware of this simple concept and trying to consider it on a day to day basis should make you a lot more mindful about how much you are, and need to consume.

Let’s look at a real example that might make this more clear. If you know you are going out for pizza and drinks tonight while trying to lose a bit of weight (need to expend more than consume), what do you have to do to achieve or come close to achieving your negative energy balance?

You have two options;

  • Get some extra exercise in to expend the energy you will be consuming later on in the day
  • or you can make better food choices, reducing the amount of energy you would usually take in earlier on in that day to account for the pizza and drinks (yes, alcohol contains energy/calories.

I personally like to do a bit of both. I will make sure that I get a good workout in that day, as well as making better food choices. For example, I try to eat more protein as it is keeps you fuller for longer. I will touch on protein a bit more in the next point.

2. Macro nutrients

There are three main nutrients. These are carbohydrates, fats and protein and they are known as macronutrients. Every food has a different macronutrient composition. Here are some examples to show you (these values may vary slightly due to a lot of factors):

Chicken Breast

Protein: 23g

Carbohydrates: 0g

Fat: 1.2g

Apple

Protein: 0.3g

Carbohydrates: 14.6g

Fat: 0.2g

Slice of bread

Protein: 2.7g

Carbohydrates: 10.6g

Fat: 0.4g

Tablespoon peanut butter 

Protein: 8g

Carbohydrates: 7g

Fat:  15g

1 slice of Large Pepperoni Dominoes Pizza

Protein: 12g

Carbohydrates: 34g

Fat: 12.5g

Everyone has different macro nutrient requirements based on their weight, height, age, body composition, goals and activity. Being aware of macronutrients and what the foods you are consuming are made of up of will help you to make better decisions when trying to eat ‘healthier’. I try to make sure that most of my meals include all of the macro nutrient food groups. I will talk about portion sizes and rough proportions in point number 4.

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Homemade protein shake 

3. Micronutrients 

While most of the health and fitness industry are obsessed with macronutrients, micronutrients shouldn’t be overlooked. A lot of people forget that if they aren’t supplying their body with the correct micronutrients, all of the macronutrients you are working so hard to have on point won’t be able to be utilised effectively.

Screenshot_20170423-130400

Micronutrients are the nutrients that will help to keep your insides healthy, happy and your systems working at full capacity. Where do you get micronutrients from? Fruit and vegetables. Only recently have I realised the true importance of getting my micronutrients in. I am always sick and hate knowing that every few weeks I will have to drop everything and stay in bed. I have been making a very conscious effort to try and eat one big portion of veggies in with every meal, and honestly I think it has helped my immune system. I haven’t been getting sick as often and when I do, it doesn’t feel half as bad as before.

Portions

Now that you have an idea about energy balance, macronutrients and micronutrients, let’s talk about portions. Like I previously mentioned, everyone will have different needs based on age, height, weight and nutrition goal. One thing you can consider that will give you a rough estimate of how much you should be eating of each food group is splitting up your plate, seen in the below illustration. Disclaimer: this is just a rough idea and is what I personally try to follow.

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Protein = Chicken. Carbs = Sweet Potatoes. Veggies = Peppers & Broccoli. Fat = Coconut Oil which the sweet potatoes were cooked in 

 

Another good thing to consider is Precision Nutrition’s hand guides:

Your palm determines your protein portions

Your fist determines your veggie portions

Your (single) cupped hand determines your carb portions

Your thumb determines your fat portions

So a good example of a meal based on these principles would be:

Omelette

  • Veggies: Big portion of a range of veg
  • Protein: Egg whites
  • Carbs: Slice of toast
  • Fats: Butter on toast
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Well balanced meal for any time of the day 

I don’t believe in cutting out full nutrient groups, eliminating or reducing carbs seems to be a popular trend among ‘dieters’. As you probably know if you are reading this, diets don’t last. This information is here to give you some tools that will hopefully help to change your habits and overall lifestyle. If you are looking for a 1 week diet to lose weight before your holiday that you are guaranteed to put straight back on you won’t get that information here. Sorry. I am interested in helping the people that want to change their life and who are willing to trust the process. I am no expert but if anyone has any questions feel free to get in contact and I will try to answer them to the best of my ability.

I hope you were able to take away at least one helpful point from this post. Thanks for reading and see you in the next one.

The Girl on the Go xx

 

 

 

 

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