In a society where the next nutrition craze is just around the corner, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of nutrition to help you smell the B.S. of the next fad. Nutrition information always seems to get muddled up and then if you add in the power of marketing companies and it’s easy to feel lost. We may: forget that fat is essential for our well-being and be confused about what good quality fat is; lack a keen eye for hidden sugars; and even forget that vegetables and fruit are carbohydrates!
Knowledge is power, and having even the most basic information can help you to navigate through this crazy food environment! So here’s a little refresher…
Protein, fat and carbohydrates are the macronutrients. We need all of these nutrients in larger amounts than the micronutrients, which are vitamins and minerals.
What do these nutrients do? Essentially, carbohydrates are transformed into the sugar that goes into the blood stream and is used for energy. Fats are broken down into fatty acids and become the building blocks for hormones and cell membranes. Proteins are broken down into amino acids, which then are rebuilt into the various proteins in our bodies. Vitamins and minerals have endless uses, including for energy production, brain function and more.
Remember, diets that focus on “fat-free” or “no carbohydrates” aren’t sustainable or healthy, as essential nutrients will be missed. A deficiency in these nutrients, especially the macronutrients can lead to depression, fatigue, inability to concentrate, a slower metabolism …and the list goes on.
Of course, quality is key! For example, fat doesn’t make you fat, but ensure you are consuming good quality fats such as nuts, seeds, wild fish, grass-fed meats, grass-fed dairy products, free-run eggs, and legumes. Poor quality fats, such as rancid oils and trans-fat will contribute to weight gain and lead to an unhappy heart and brain. Did you know that trans-fat (which are not naturally occurring) will actually displace healthy essential fats in your brain? Quality carbohydrates are also important. Refined carbohydrates, especially sugars and wheat, cause weight gain and are very hard for the body to deal with. Aim for quality carbohydrates such as whole grains, legumes, and vegetables and fruit. Usually when people say they aren’t eating carbohydrates, they are referring to refined carbohydrates, not vegetables and fruit.
Would you be interested to learn more about the basics of nutrition? Be sure to check out our other blog posts within Nutrition Tips, including Why We Crave Carbs and Get to Know Your Fats and feel free to contact us with specific questions!