Nutrition 101

Monday Lifestyle Education Discussion
“Nutrition 101”
What’s a carb? Are fats bad? How many calories do I need? Can coconut oil cure my ailments? Whether it’s Paleo, The Whole 30 or a diet seen on Dr. Oz, many are as confused as ever about nutrition! Let’s review the nutrition basics.

We EAT TO LIVE. It’s not in the best interest of our health to live to eat, but that’s exactly what most of us do. Eating has become a way to self-medicate, nurture and pleasure ourselves with food. Comfort eating is not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, but when it becomes habitual to abuse food, weight gain and chronic diseases follow. If you want a better relationship with food, it might be helpful to start with some very basic nutrition principles.

Calories: this is the measurement of the amount of energy a food provides. Energy (calories) is needed by the body to do work. Think of calories as “fuel” If you work hard (very active lifestyle) you will need more calories. Calorie needs vary per individuals. The best way to know precisely how many calories your body needs is to be tested (We offer that testing here for $99)

Macronutrients: substances needed for growth, metabolism and other bodily function. The “Macros” are Carbohydrates, Protein, Fat

Carbs: provides 4 cals/gm. Aim for 40-65% of calories coming from carbs. Typically higher range if involved in endurance events like cycling or running. Possibly a lower range if insulin resistant. It’s not “No” carbs, but “slow” carbs. Choose complex carbs over simple carbs

Protein: provides 4 cals/gm. Aim for 20-30% of calories coming from protein foods. Choose lean proteins such as chicken/turkey breast, fish, tofu, eggs.

Fat: provides 9 cals/gm. Aim for 15-30% of calories coming from heart-healthy fats. Limit Saturated fat and avoid trans fats.

Nutrient-dense foods vs Calorie-dense foods: nutrient dense foods contain a large amount of nutrients for a relatively small number of calories (vegetables, beans, fruits, whole grain products, lean meats/fish and low-fat dairy. Eat more of these and less calorie dense foods to lose weight

I’m sure to incite a few eye rolls or sighs, but the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is a good place to start for determining what constitutes a healthy diet. In there you’ll find recommendations to eat more vegetables, whole fruits, beans, and limit processed foods. They recommend consuming a variety of whole foods, while limited processed meats, saturated fats and cutting waaaaay back on added sugars and sodium. Sure, individual dietary needs vary, but most people aren’t doing the basics and you’ve got to start somewhere. Let’s stop majoring in the minors and make a plan to eat better. As author Michael Pollan famously said, “Eat food, not too much and mostly plants.”

Check out the guidelines here:

About the Author
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Weight Loss Coach specializing in lifestyle transformation