For those of you who may be new to fitness, don’t want to over complicate things, or just want to learn about eating a healthy diet, look no further. Nutrition is the single most important factor to whatever your fitness goals may be, and at the height of this is good basic nutrition.
So what is good basic nutrition? Let’s take a closer look below.
Complex carbohydrates (whole grains) are carbohydrates that contain more than ten linked glucose units. Sounds boring, but the truth of the matter is these types of carbohydrates are the best types of grains we can put into our body. Unlike simple carbohydrates, whole grains digest very slowly, which allows for long term energy when they hit the bloodstream. Conversely, simple carbohydrates digest very fast, which in turn spikes insulin levels drastically in the blood. Once the insulin removes the simple sugars from the blood, the levels drop and this is why people report having a “crash” a couple of hours after ingesting them. With complex carbohydrates, there is no crash. Complex carbohydrates can be found in things like: oatmeal, shredded wheat, beans, 100% whole grain bread, granola, and an array of different grocery items as well.
Lean proteins are the proteins found in meat. Things like chicken, turkey, ham, and pork are all examples of these. Although proteins can also be found in things like grains, legumes, and nuts, most of these proteins are incomplete proteins (meaning they do not contain a complete blend of all nine essential amino acids). Because of this, it is recommended that a majority of proteins come from lean sources, since these contain the greatest quanity of all nine amino acids. For vegetarians, complete proteins can also be found in eggs and in many dairy products. For vegans, complete proteins can be found in different types of soy products and quinoa, a protein-rich whole grain.
Fat is probably one of the most controversial topics in nutrition today. Is fat good or bad? And if it is, what are the “healthy fats”? These are just some of the questions I get asked on a daily basis. There are three different types of healthy fats. Monounsaturated, saturated, and polyunsaturated. Now our doctors may have told us to stay away from saturated fat since it will give us “clogged arteries”, but if you don’t believe me when I say it is good for you, be sure to check out the Saturated Fat & Cholesterol section to the above left. Let’s take a look at the different types of healthy fats below. To learn more about the health benefits of increasing healthy fat intake, click here.
- Monunsaturated Fat: Monunsaturated fat is a fat that has one double-bonded carbon in the molecule. Liquid at room temperature, this type of fat is found in things such as: olive oil, canola oil, nuts, and avacado.
- Saturated Fats: Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and are saturated with hydrogen atoms, hence their name. These fats can be found in mainly animal products, such as: butter, eggs, meat, cheese, and whole milk.
- Polyunsaturated Fats: These fats have more than one hydrogen atom missing in the carbon chain and therefore contain more than one double bond. Found in certain types of fatty fish, walnuts, flax seed, and canola oil, these fats are very beneficial to your health.
Trans fats are hydrogenated by bombarding an oil’s fat molecules with hydrogen atoms, making it dense and raising its melting point, in order to make the oil become solid at room temperature. These fats are extremely bad for our health and have been proven to cause heart disease, strokes and certain types of cancers. Therefore, they should be avoided at all costs. These are found in things such as french fries, margarine, potato chips, doughuts, and taco shells.
Be cautious, just because a label says “0 grams of trans fat per serving”, does not mean that trans fat is not present in that food. If a food has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, then food manufacturers are allowed to put 0 grams of trans fat in the nutrition facts. To be safe, look in the ingredient list for the words “partially hydrogenated oil”. If the words are there, it means trans fat is in the food. If not, then you’re good to go.
Fruits & Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins and minerals and are extremely beneficial to our health. I recommend eating fruits and vegetables with every meal, since these wonders of the world have also been proven to help fight off certain types of cancers and other diseases. The benefits of adding fruits and vegetables to our daily diet are endless.
To Sum It Up
Hopefully after reading this we have a better understanding about how we should be fueling our body on a daily basis. Remember, once you ingest something your body then has to break it down and use it for energy, so put good things in and get good results back!