Fit Tip Friday – Nutrition Basics
Nutrition and fitness are inseparable. Food is the fuel for your movement, and the man in the pew should be familiar with the basic nutritional concepts. There is a lot of nutrition-related information out there to wade through. New diets, new fads, new rules, new super-foods, and new studies come out faster than we can digest them. While this article won’t address all the ideas that exist, I want to deal briefly with the basic nutritional concepts that are the pillars for understanding how to eat: calories, macros and eating good food. At the end I’ll provide two resources that have helped me build a foundation in my own nutritional journey.
A calorie is a unit of measurement for the amount of energy in your food, and energy is your body’s fuel for movement. As a general rule of thumb, if energy input exceeds energy output, your body will store that excess energy and you will gain weight (stored as fat). If energy output exceeds energy input, your body will shed the weight (stored as fat) to provide for the extra energy needs.
Energy and bodily function are made possible by three main macronutrients, or “macros“: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Each has a role to play in your body’s systems. Your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose which is used as your body’s primary source of energy. Your body uses proteins for growth and tissue repair. Fats are involved in a variety of bodily functions, such as energy storage and hormone regulation.
Here are some foods divided into their macro categories:
Carbohydrates: Vegetables, Fruits, Grains, Beans, Lentils, Oats, etc…
Proteins: Fish, Meats, Egg Whites, etc…
Fats: Nuts, Seeds, Food Oils (olive, avocado, etc..), Egg Yolks, Dairy, etc…
Recommended intake for each of these macros depends on a variety of factors (including the recommendations from your doctor and/or nutritionist). But here are some general principles you can apply:
Remember that your body’s primary source of energy is carbohydrates, so eat a variety of natural and unprocessed carbs (vegetables, fruits, etc…).
Eat all three types of macros as each provides a specific service to your body.
Limit the consumption of sugary, high-sodium, nutrient-void, and overly-processed food (sugary drinks and cereals, most fast food, chips, etc…).
Drink plenty of water.
Michael Pollen’s “Food Rules” (no affiliate links) is a simple and quick read on the basics of eating good food. In this book, he provides over 60 entertaining principles on how to guide your eating. Eat the food that is actually food, not the factory-made stuff. Look over the ingredients list of what you purchase and try to carve out anything processed. Can you pronounce the ingredients on the food label? How many steps is the packaged food you are eating removed from being in or on top of the ground? This quick read will help teach you some of the basic principles of eating.
To outsource the tracking of my calories and macros, I use the free My Fitness Pal app on my smartphone (no affiliate links). The app has a barcode scanner that allows me to scan in the food I consume, or the option of searching for it in its large database. The app also provides an automatic count of how many calories I consume each day, along with a breakdown of my food consumption across the three macros.
And remember, “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Remember the false teachers in 1 Timothy who prevented the flock from eating certain types of food, as they forgot God in their dogmatic declarations. Be wise and disciplined about what you eat and train yourself for godliness.
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